Opal card loophole costs NSW government $1.3 million in lost revenue
Jun 22, 2017 under Travel 92 , Australia 87
The NSW government has lost at least $1.3 million due to an Opal card loophole that allows users to tap off with a negative balance and throw away the card, potentially saving $15 or more on a single journey.
Despite the NSW Audit Office flagging the loophole in its annual reports for the past two years, the number of passengers exploiting the system has surged.
Figures show that, between July 2015 and June 2016, the amount owing to the state more than tripled from $427,000 to $1.3 million.
The number of cards with a negative balance in circulation jumped from 134,000 at June 30, 2015, to 363,000 in 2016.
"Unregistered Opal cards with negative balances cannot be recovered unless the passenger adds value to top up the card," the 2015 Audit Office report warned, saying customers can simply "discard their negative balance cards".
As long as a passenger has the minimum balance on an unregistered Opal card to tap on, they can complete the journey and tap off with a negative balance.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said: "Put simply this is fare evasion and people should always travel with enough balance to get where they need to go."