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No paper public transport tickets beyond single and return tickets will be sold from next year, Transport Minister Andrew Constance said on Tuesday morning.
The decision to stop selling most types of paper tickets means up to half a million pensioners and seniors will have the next five months to sign up for a Gold Opal pass, or otherwise be left paying full fare.
In his announcement on Tuesday, Mr Constance also foreshadowed the eventual closure of all types of paper tickets, and said the government was looking at whether to upgrade the Opal system to allow payment by "contactless" credit card or smartphone.
Among the 57 types of tickets that will not be sold from January 1, 2016, are the commonly used TravelTen for buses, Pensioner Excursion Ticket, and Family Funday Sunday tickets.
"There is no point continuing to run two ticket systems," said Mr Constance, who lauded the widespread take-up of the Opal card as one of the signature successes of the Coalition government.
About 70 per cent of all public transport trips are now made using an Opal card, and 3.3 million cards have been issued since the system began on ferries in December, 2012.
Mr Constance said the government would retain adult and concession single or return paper tickets for trains, ferries and light rail, and single tickets for buses.
He said a decision had not been made about when to also retire those tickets, but the day would come.
"Transport will keep an eye on it, and then phase it out at the appropriate moment."
But the closure of paper-based tickets will mean a change for hundreds of thousands of pensioners who have not signed up for the Gold Opal.
Seniors need to apply for this card, under which they are charged the same as those using a Pensioner Excursion Ticket, and provide their Pensioner or Seniors Card to prove they are eligible for it.
"We've seen 370,000 seniors seniors take it up, and we believe there's somewhere in the order of 300,000 to 500,000 seniors who will need to transition to the new Gold Opal over the next five months, which is why we will continue to promote it in our shopping centres, across the community," Mr Constance said.
With most public transport users having adopted the Opal, sales of other paper tickets have dropped dramatically. For instance, there were 83,120 MyBus TravelTen tickets sold in May, about 76 per cent fewer than were sold last year.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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