ORANGE seniors need to plan ahead and order an Opal card if travelling to Sydney via public transport or risk paying a higher fare because, according to residents, the government believes “nothing exists this side of the Blue Mountains”.
Orange senior Ann Williamson was caught short travelling to Sydney without a Gold Opal card because of a funeral and had to pay a concession rate rather than a pensioner rate.
The Gold Opal card for seniors and pensioners can only be ordered online or over the phone but can take a week to arrive.
Mrs Williamson said the “needs of country people had again been ignored or completely overlooked”.
Mrs Williamson had to buy a single, one-way paper ticket in Lithgow to get on a train from Blackheath to Sydney, and then had to buy a concession paper ticket at each train stop in the city because she was unable to obtain an all-day seniors pass, which was phased out on January 1.
“You can get [a standard Opal card] from newsagents in the area, but it could be very stressful for elderly people who may not know their way around Sydney,” she said.
“People need to know that you have to be prepared, because in an emergency you can’t get the seniors Opal card.”
Orange resident Tony Smith recently applied online for a Gold Opal card and said he could not fathom why there was no place in Orange to access any version of the card.
“It’s lunacy, I don’t think anyone from Macquarie Street realises that we exist,” he said.
“This was something they should have sorted out before they introduced it.”
While the Gold Opal cards are only available online or over the phone, Mr Smith said Service NSW in Orange should stock the regular Opal cards because the Bathurst centre does.
A NSW Transport spokesperson said seniors could only apply for the Gold Opal card online or by phone.
“This ensures only eligible customers are accessing the $2.50 daily fare cap which plays an important role in preventing fare avoidance which has cost millions of dollars in the past.”
Member for Orange Andrew Gee said in a statement he had raised the availability of cards with Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance.
Mr Constance said in a statement he looked forward to working with Mr Gee to “encourage seniors and pensioners to apply as soon as possible for the discount travel card”.
To obtain an Opal card call 13 67 25 or go online at opal.com.au.