Friday, April 11, 2014

New Opal cards for students & kids launched, but still no Pensioner/Concession Opal card availability

The NSW Transport Minister earlier this week launched the availability of Opal cards for Students & Kids, which can now be used as of yesterday (Friday 10th April 2014), but the question remained, what about the Pensioner/Concessioner Opal Card?

Well thats where a totally seperate press release was made a few hours later from Transport for NSW, in which the Transport Minister, (who in our own opinion is totally incompetent) Gladys Berejiklian stated that:

“I am pleased to confirm the Gold Opal Senior/Pensioner card will be available before the end of the year and fares for seniors and pensioners will remain capped at $2.50 for the day. I want seniors and pensioners to know that they will never pay more with a Gold Opal Senior/Pensioner card. They will have the same entitlements as the current $2.50 Pensioner Excursion Ticket.”

But it gets more interesting, the Minister then states this:

Customers will need to buy their Pensioner Excursion Tickets before they travel on buses from more than 1,600 ticket sellers across Sydney, including news agencies, 7-11 convenience stores, Australia Post and selected Woolworths stores.

It certainly seems that the Transport Minister doesn't live in Western Sydney or South Western Sydney, where most of these shops are far away from most bus stops and in deed most people with disabilities. Currently Pensioner Excursion tickets are valid from the day they are purchased and run out at 2am that night. Therefore the idea of pre-purchasing bus tickets is ludicrous and utter major stuff up from her office & Transport for NSW to say the most!

This certainly seems that little has been done to really think how this may impact and have operational issues for people who require and are entitled to the Pensioner Excursion Ticket/Fare, especially people with disabilities or the elderly who cannot walk or travel great distances to get these pre-pay tickets before trying to even board their bus service.

TfANSW has sought comment from the Ministers office and still awaiting any feedback regarding this matter, but also if the Pensioner Excursion ticket maybe be effected for all train travel on both Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink Intercity services.

You can read the full press release regarding the pensioner/concession Opal card availability here. You can also read about the Student & Kids Opal Card press release here.

Do you think the Transport Minister has through this out properly or do you think she should consult the disability and mature aged community regarding this change? Do you think the Concessioner/Pensioner Opal card should have been rolled out before now?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Inner West Light Rail now open but no Lift interchange at Sydney Trains stations in Dulwich Hill & Lewisham

Last Thursday, the light rail extension from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill opened to the public which much fan fair, however there are still two issues which the current NSW Liberal/National Government along with Transport for All haven't planned to fix prior to the opening for people with disabilities.

The two issues are namely based around the following:

1) lack of the lift availability at Dulwhich Hill and Lewisham heavy rail (Sydney Trains) stations
2) Lack of local accessible bus availability for customer to change at Lewisham West to either Lewisham or Stanmore heavy rail stations.

These issues whilst seeming somewhat unimportant for most commuters and a minor oversight as transport specialists have stated, they are in fact quite huge transport blackspots which the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian cannot blame on anyone else other than herself.

The lack of accessible transport interchange options, such as a lift at Dulwich Hill heavy rail station to say the least is quite the oversight. For example, someone requiring wheelchair accessibility from Lilyfield to say Bankstown, would have to change at Dulwich Hill onto the 412 bus to Campsie Station, then change for heavy rail at Campsie to Bankstown. This would add an additional 45-55mins travel on top of the ordinary travel time which is quite unfair and would be seen as discriminatory.

For Lewisham West, the lack of an accessible bus close to station which could enable travel and an accessible interchange capabilities to Stanmore heavy rail (which is wheelchair accessible) or the option to have Lewisham heavy rail station to become wheelchair accessible as well, with a connecting accessible local bus is again a major oversight.

"The option of not providing accessible interchange options at either Dulwhich Hill or Lewisham/Stanmore is quite disturbing and it shows that when it comes to accessible transport options, the current NSW Liberal/National Government are all talk but when push comes to shove, they don't seem to care about accessible transport" Alex Dennis - Transport for All NSW chairman stated.

"The Transport Minister has no one else than herself to blame for this two major oversights, after she delayed construction until 2012 - a year after the Liberal/National Government came into power and provided undertook additional detailed construction planning which would have identified these two issues should have been rectified and steps put in place to address these issues" Mr Dennis continued to state.

Transport for All NSW has sought comment from the Transport Minister and Transport for NSW as to what they plan to do to rectify this two issues, but we are yet to hear anything back from either party.

In the meantime Mr Dennis has suggested that the public speak to their local Liberal/National Minister and also undertake complaints with Transport for NSW as well.

Opal card now active on all Sydney Trains lines - NSW TrainLink by the end of next week but not ETA for Concession or Students cards

Opal Card certainly has been successful in its rollout, with the new ticketing system now available and operational on all Sydney Ferry routes and all Sydney Trains suburban lines, with NSW Trainlink availability to become fully operational by the end of next week (11 April 2014). However one question yet remains to be answered - when will concession card holders and students get their own cards?

Now whilst most people might see this as a petty move, it actually isn't. For example, since October last year, the Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink, Transport for NSW and the Transport Minister, Gladys Berijiklian announced that anyone needing to get concessional fares from the stations ticket windows after 9am, on weekends and public holidays, this caused major frustration and anger within the disability community, as this would make things a little more harder for people with disabilities.

For example, someone in a wheelchair, walker, or using walking sticks has to travel from Blacktown to Richmond or to Cambelltown cannot get a ticket from the Richmond line concourse, they need to head over to the main concourse to get their ticket, then travel all the way back to Richmond Line concourse to get on their services.

Now whilst Blacktown is only one "minor" case according to the Transport for NSW, there are similar issues at NSW TrainLink Stations such at Tuggerah, Wyong, Morisset on the Newcastle & Central Coast line, Mt Victoria on the Blue Mountains Line, Mittagong, Moss Vale, Bowral, Bundanoon on the Southern Highlands Line with Dapto, Albion Park, Dunmore, & Thirroul on the South Coast/Illawarra Line having similar issues.

Transport for All NSW has sought comment from TfNSW and the Transport Ministers office along with Cubic who run the Opal Card system on behalf of the NSW Government and we are so far still awaiting to hear or be given a reply in regards to this matter.