Sydney rail and bus commuters found ticket barriers back in place this morning after a month and-a-half long industrial relations protest by workers that involved not policing Opal readers came to an end.

Following a threat of legal action by the state government on Thursday the Rail, Tram and Bus union called off a planned extension of the action, which is believed to have cost the state at least 10 per cent of revenue.

It brings to an end a confusing period where commuters were unsure whether or not they needed to pay rail and bus fares, as drivers refused to enforce the buying of tickets since August 13.

According to a spokesperson for Transport for NSW “around 90 per cent per cent of people continued tapping on during this period”.

Transport for NSW claims the figure is on a par with the proportion of commuters who tap on and off when Opal readers are operating normally, although Central News could not confirm this figure.

The RBTU are threatening the NSW government with a loss in revenue in a system that is already struggling with its long-term finances, according to reports and strategies released earlier this year by the NSW government. According to these reports, some train lines make back as little as 10 per cent of the money it costs to run them.

I’ve been too scared to not tap on! It’s so expensive, but I keep tapping on just in case.

Many commuters, however, were not aware of what their responsibility to buy tickets was, or their risk of being fined for not tapping on.

In addition only “some Opal gates” have been left open, according to a spokesperson for Transport for NSW.

“Central will be open, but Glenfield will be closed,” said student Gokce Caliskan, who commutes from Glenfield to Central for university each day.

She expressed her frustration at the lack of information about fines and confusion this had caused for commuters alighting at stations like Glenfield, where gates were still closed.

Many commuters were fined at Glenfield, where police maintained a presence during the industrial action.

“There’s people over there I can see that clearly didn’t know [the gates are closed] and just went through from Central, but at Glenfield, they couldn’t tap off because they were ‘tapping on’ basically,” Caliskan added.

She said police would see confused commuters do this and “go ‘yep, here’s a fine’”.

Opal Readers at North Sydney station remind commuters to “Always tap even if gates are open”.


Children’s entertainer Kathy Hua, 22, has been wary about increased police presence in stations she frequents such as Town Hall, Cabramatta, and Newtown.

“I’ve been too scared to not tap on! It’s so expensive, but I keep tapping on just in case,” she said.

Journalist Arshmah Jamal hasn’t been tapping on during the industrial action period in solidarity with the RBTU.

She saved over $180 on her regular journey from Leppington to Central station, even when she almost received a fine from NSW Police for not tapping on at Central.

“I don’t see the point. Why am I giving them the money?” she said.

Photos by Isabel Cant.