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Passengers who combine bus and train travel will be denied discounts offered to bus and tram commuters under Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian's policies for the new Opal smartcard.
In response to concerns from eastern suburbs residents that they will have to pay more when light rail is introduced in a few years, Ms Berejiklian said on Tuesday that trams and buses will cost the same under Opal.
But this policy - which will make light rail a more attractive proposition in the eastern suburbs - opens up a gap between what people who live near trains and trams will pay for public transport.
The light rail project to the eastern suburbs is being designed to replace large numbers of buses. Under Ms Berejiklian's policy, anyone who changes from a bus to a tram - for instance, at interchanges to be built at Randwick and Kingsford - will have to pay only the one fare, calculated from the start of the bus trip to the end of the tram trip. But anyone who catches a bus to a train station and then a train will continue to have to pay twice under Opal.
''Light rail and buses are comparable in an operational sense, with customers able to hop on and hop off easily, and under Opal fares will be the same for both modes,'' Ms Berejiklian said.
But the opposition accused the government of setting up a ''two-tiered'' fares policy for commuters depending on where they live.
''There is no fair reason why a commuter who catches a bus and then a train should be charged two fares while someone who catches a bus then light rail only pays one fare,'' Labor transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said.
Transport for NSW on Tuesday released its response to submissions on the eastern suburbs light rail line, to be running by about 2019. The response includes a number of changes put forward last year, including another pedestrian bridge over Anzac Parade.
However, it does not include another stop in Surry Hills, as requested by City of Sydney Council, and nor does it include more significant route changes through Randwick and Kingsford, as requested by community groups and Randwick Council.
Randwick mayor Scott Nash said the council was disappointed the government is not removing a stop at High Cross Park in Randwick, but was pleased with some improvements to the design of it.
But Brad Pillinger, a member of the Residents for a Better Light Rail community group, said the government probably always intended to make the small changes it announced. ''We were offered these concessions verbally the day after it was released,'' Mr Pillinger said of the original plan.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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