SYDNEY — An electronic transport ticket called the Opal card is being rolled out across Sydney right now — and the public can't stop laughing.
This isn't the first time a state government has struggled to get public-transportation users on board with a new device. Ask any Melbournian about the Myki, and he or she will rant for 10 minutes about its shortcomings. Perth is one place people don't complain, though; It has the Smartrider, and by all accounts, it really is a smarter ride.
So why has the Opal card received so much backlash? Here are the things infuriating Sydney:
1. The creepy Opal Man chasing you at the train stationnam-
Hollywood Boulevard's crazy sidewalk characters have nothing on Sydney's local train station.
You duck, you weave, you run, but they're always shoving their big foam bodies in the way. If the Opal Man is trying to scare people on to the trains, it's working. It's the only safe haven from that nightmare. And the dance moves.
It also helps to kick in the realisation that your job isn't quite so bad.nam-
2. It could cost more than driving
It doesn't solve the traffic issue, but it does solve the smelly armpit-in-your face issue. The Daily Telegraph found that it was not only cheaper to buy a quarterly or yearly paper ticket than an Opal card in some Sydney suburbs, it may also be cheaper to get behind the wheel.
The website Opal or Not? will calculate if you should stay in pre-digital times forever, or face the Opal Man. Road rage is looking like a good option.
3. The Opal ads scare small children
If you thought queuing was bad, you probably haven't seen the ad with the woman dreaming of her life with Opal Man.
Be warned, this cannot be unseen.nam-
Kudos to NSW Transport for thinking outside of the box, but it ain't gonna get anyone wanting a long-term relationship with that weirdo. If this is adventurous, paper tickets are wild.
4. Everywhere does it better than Sydney
Sydneysiders hate not doing things first and better. The devastating reality is Opal is the daggy cousin of Smartrider. If you don't want short-term tickets, and enjoy waiting at the barrier for a few minutes before being let through to your train, even Myki looks impressive.
In good news, Sydney still has the harbour — it will just cost you an extra few bucks and a run-in with Opal Man to get there.nam-
5. Opal Man has your details, and may turn up at your door
Oh, you thought you were safe? If you get the Opal card online, there is a high chance you'll never fly under the radar again.
ZDNet reported that NSW Transport is collecting a "wealth of information" on passengers, including their travel history and personal details.nam-
NSW Transport reassured passengers and defended its practices, saying that privacy is important, but passenger's travel movements or personal details may be shared with law enforcement if the data is needed "to help solve crime and protect the public".
"This is consistent with other electronic ticketing systems," a spokesperson said in a statement.
If you want to avoid Big Brother, don't get an Opal card online — wait a few months, and then use a retailer to purchase an unregistered card. Hopefully, Opal Man has moved on by then.
6. You have no choice
So you still want to be part of the revolution? Lucky, because you don't have a choice.
From September, paper tickets will start to be retired in Sydney, finally getting the city up to speed with the rest of the country. Welcome to the world of Opal. It's going to be glorious.
Tags: MYKI, OPAL, OPAL CARD, SMARTRIDER, SYDNEY, TRANSPORT, TRAVEL & LEISURE, US & World, WORLD