The Couple on the Train.

Almost There

Train travel is now almost done without rail employees. You can’t buy train tickets anymore. A few weeks ago we walked to the local train-station to try and travel to another station to pick up the grandsons. We hopefully went to the locket to order our tickets. The man behind the glass panel shook his head. ‘No way, tickets for the pensioners are now only available through ‘Opal’ ticketing system,’ he said. ‘If you don’t have Opal you have to pay full fare.’ ‘Fair enough,’ we answered. ‘Please, two returns to Campbelltown.’ ‘Oh, no again, you can’t buy tickets here.’ ‘You must buy from the machine near where you are standing.’ The full fare was $14.50 each. Normal pensioner tickets is $ 2.50 all day, no matter where you go to. The machine is complicated, at least for us, used to logic and straightforward paying with cash to a person and not a machine.

The really strange thing is that you can’t buy the Opal card at railway stations. You have to do that ‘on-line,’ or at certain News-agents or shops. I am proud to announce that I managed to achieve this electronic journey on-line without any assistance or nervous breakdown. Both Helvi and I now have an Opal Card tucked away in our wallets. We each have $20,- credit on it. The world is now our oyster and we can travel at any time by train. I wonder what happens to those credits when people cark it. I bet there are millions of dollars laying about from people whose last journey was the train to Rookwood. Feeling as ‘Crook as Rookwood’ is one of my most favourite expressions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rookwood_Cemetery_railway_line

Using Opal requires a form of tapping a pole each time getting on and off the train. No-one really checks if you have ticket. The poles all over Australia must store your identity and synchronises it with this Opal card which is in your name and linked to pensioner number. It also comes with its own pin number and password. Each time you tap the pole with your Opal card, the travel cost is deducted from the money that one has credited the Opel-Card with. Amazing technology, but what happens if you travel by train and walk past those poles? Does the pole do something? Do they take a photo? How does the pole know you haven’t tapped it?

We have as yet to try it out. I have seen the system in action. We watched people tapping the pole. It looks hilarious. I mean, who would have thought that normal adults, totally sane people, would get a card out and tap it against a steel post? The post doesn’t say or do anything. At least in supermarkets, the automated scanning cash registers give you a receipt and even are polite enough to thank you for having done the shopping. I always wait for the announcement, ‘Thank you for shopping at Woolworth, the Fresh Food people.’
I even answer, ‘no worries.’

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29 Responses to “The Couple on the Train.”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    You’ve just reminded me that I didn’t receive my travel vouchers from Centrelink. They’re picking on me again!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that’s right. Neither have we.

      Like

    • berlioz1935 Says:

      You don’t get vouchers anymore. But you still get free travel in NSW or half fare anywhere else. When you book on-line or the phone THEY know whether you are still entitled to free travel. Just try it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, they used to keep tab on your travel entitlements. I think the Government has a link to your travel habits.

        It used to be mandatory for pensioners to inform centre-link if you went overseas. What a dreadful idea.

        Are pensioners somehow not entitled to travel? Who cares where you travel to or where one lives.

        Our Dutch or Finnish entitlements do not impinge our dignity on having to divulge where we are travelling to or where we are living. It is none of their business. Grrr.

        Like

  2. jennypellett Says:

    I hate those automated ticket machines – I don’t trust them. To buy from a person, I have to get to the ticket booth during the rush hour because it closes at 09.30. But with my cut price ticket, I’m not allowed to travel until 10.30. I end up buying the day before I need so I’m not hanging around on a chilly platform. That’s ageist, if ever😕

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      In Australia one now has to make sure there is enough credit on the Opal Card. If not, I doubt the steel pole would fine or arrest you. The ticket machines have been replaced with Opal card technology.

      It must be so hard for older people to go on-line or provide pins and passwords.

      Australia has a very high rate of suicide.

      Not surprising when contact between real people is getting harder. What harm must be inflicted on travellers now when passing through the station gates, tapping a card against a non-communicative cold steel post.

      The same with automatic shopping, cash machines, banking, paying bills. All human contact is now absent, all is void and cold.

      For Christ’s sake, talk, and give hugs.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. algernon1 Says:

    I find it easier Gerard. Used to have the travel 10 on the bus and from the city its prepay during the day. With the Opal I don’t forget.I don’t like the fact that they’ve taken the free travel away after 10 trips but they are now 1/2 price. Don’t mind that you can transfer to a bus and that is $2 off. Given that when I train and bus the bus fare is either 5 or 10c I don’t mind. Getting to the station before 7am or 4pm gets you an off peak fare too. Just managed it by 8 seconds the other day. But I save $1.96 on my trip to Penrith.

    They do check, they have these mobile checkers and they can see if you’ve tapped on. Got checked twice on a train to Newcastle once. I was on a train the other day. Two blokes sitting in front of me on a Lithgow Train. Neither had a ticket and were travelling to Parkes. Goodness knows how they thought they’d get past Lithgow without one. $200 fine didn’t seem to faze them or any without one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Well, we are soon to try our Opal and are steeling ourselves for the experience, Algy.

      I am curious about passing one of the villages whereby a house has bolted on the tiled roof a large sign in dark blue, advertising ‘Funeral Services.’ It is complete with mobile number and all.

      The back yard features lots of coffins in all stages of completion. The funeral Director must be hoping for travellers to cotton on and take down the number in case of a looming death.

      I can’t get over the idea of the entrepreneur trying to attract travellers to entertain the possibility of death and coffins and to take down the mobile number.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Big M Says:

      I agree, Algy, I don’t use public transport much, but we do train to Sydney. Was in Melbourne last week, so stayed at the cbd and travelled by train to Monash Medical centre. It was pretty cheap and convenient, but had to buy a Myki card, as there is no national card.

      I too have had my Opal checked on the Newcastle train. We are probably seen as a bunch of train fare recidivists.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dorothy brett Says:

    Gerard, there are limits on the distances yountravel eg think you can get to Newcastle, and newcastle to Goulbourn is another ,but check on it before you renew your passport lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We shall try it out soon. I believe you have to activate the card within 60 days.

      The train trip Bowral to Sydney runs trains that do not have toilets. I have reached the stage I don’t want to be too far from a toilet. Are there any back-pack toilets available, Dorothy?

      You know, something you strap on and hide discretely tucked in one’s shirt hiding a small toilet in case of an intestinal emergency?

      Like

  5. Forestwoodfolkart Says:

    Up here they call it the Go Card! I think it is a bit silly too. All that money – some people have hundreds on dollars on there because they don’t want to top it up too often, or they arrange to auto top it up and link their precious credit cards to the big brother like system. My son doesn’t trust them and bans us from using auto top up!
    And if you forget to “touch off” – a ridiculous expression in itself, at your end destination you get charged the maximum fee. I wonder what tourists make of it?

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Here you can ‘top up’ at Newsagents. We were supposed to try it out today but Helvi did not want to. She is scared of those poles and needs more time.
      Perhaps I should buy a railway ticket collector’s uniform with cap and a good whistle and tell people to show me their tickets and clip them as they go through. Going back to the good old times.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    We haven’t traveled by train lately, but used to buy tickets at the local grocery store. They have “Fast Track tickets for driving across bridges. They somehow are “read” electronically. Don’t know how that works. Otherwise you pay cash to a real person as you drive through.

    I have a mental picture of all those poles ganging up on you if you forget to tap them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We have tags fastened to the front car-widow. It reads your car’s numberplate and owner. You pay each time from an account linked to your tag. The tag goes ‘beep’ each time. The main roads in Cities are now all pay roads.
      Real persons are now extinct in transport now. Some are hiding behind those poles.

      Like

  7. Curt Mekemson Says:

    No Opals out here, Gerard. We live in the sticks. But I am hoping that self-driving cars are around when I reach the age I shouldn’t be driving any more… And I will want the car to talk to me, and play music, and scratch my back.🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, The Netherlands is aiming to stop selling petrol and diesel cars by 2025. Electric cars only can be sold from then on. I ma sure the self-drive will also be electric. Pretty nifty, I reckon.

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        I am amazed at how fast it is all happening Gerard. The world of of our grandchildren may be truly unrecognizable, in a good way. That is if we can survive the current crop of political leaders. –Curt

        Like

  8. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Buying train tickets in a certain place sounds like a rigged system to me but then I reckon that’s how things are done in Aussieland.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I am not sure if it is rigged but not selling tickets and Opal at railway stations seems strange. I don’t know what tourists think of not able to get tickets from the railway organisations. I mean, where else would you go?

      Liked by 1 person

      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        Yep. Sounds really odd to me but then what do I know? Various countries have strange laws, etc and I reckon that the US is likely an odd ball to many folks that come here.

        Like

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        The oddest thing for foreigners about the US is the gun laws. Even though far more get killed by own guns than in wars, the gun owners seem to like that freedom. I don’t know how much freedom there is to enjoy in being dead.

        Like

  9. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Hmm. In the UK we still just show our Oldie Bus Pass (free travel) to the driver, but the Oyster credit pass, gets tapped in and out again. It is a worrying thought about the amount of money these systems gain over unused credits. We have a Dartford Crossing Toll credit (some guy-in-the-sky, watches your car pass and deducts a sum) I bet there will be money in that when we croak.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I have thought about this a lot, Hilary.
      When the croaking get neigh, I will close my accounts with Opal and all the pre-paid bridges and highway tolls and teach them a lesson.

      I will drive up and down all the toll-bridges, all the toll- highways and rack up huge bills. I will take the train and show utter contempt for the poles. I will cease to tap on or off at the poles, and scowl at the Opal card.

      At Rookwood cemetery there will be a simple grave; Here lies a man who defied Opal, Oyster, and all pre-paid tollways, including bridges. . .

      Liked by 1 person

  10. shoreacres Says:

    Well, I’m not for self-driving cars, or for systems that drive you crazy, whether you want to go there or not. Eventually, the laws of unintended consequences are going to kick in, and people are going to be needed again. Or, perhaps not — but I figure I’ll be gone before utter madness takes over, so I’m not worrying about it.

    The more I think about tapping that pole, the crazier it sounds. Of course, it’s just a variety of scanner: common enough. Still, it is quite impersonal and big-brother-ish. I don’t like that at all.

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It seems more of everyday things become less connected to people, yet there are more of us. It seems that an economy that depends on functioning with less and less people being employed is doomed. I don’t like it.

      Like

  11. The Couple on the Train. — Oosterman Treats Blog – Journal Edge Says:

    […] via The Couple on the Train. — Oosterman Treats Blog […]

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