THE unstoppable march of smartcards such as Opal, Myki and Go continues with a new card set to change how we travel - and force those of us who have shunned them to get on board the tap-on tap-off technology.
New machines began quietly spitting out a brand new type of smartcard last week and while transport bosses insist it's a trial they have admitted to news.com.au that all going well the new ticket will be "progressively activated" across the network.
Having already converted season ticket users and regular commuters, the ticket hold-outs - paper tickets for single journeys from A to B - are now in the smartcard's sights.
Their successor is a new spin on the travel smartcard which exists nowhere else in Australia.
Called "Opal Single Trip" cards, the new ticket has begun to be dispensed from a handful of ticket machines in Sydney.
The new tickets are lighter than standard smartcards and cannot be topped up.
At the end of the trip, you just throw them away.
"The new Single Trip ticket looks like a paper ticket but it contains a microchip and antenna that allows customers to tap on and tap off at Opal card readers when travelling," a Transport for NSW (TfNSW) spokeswoman told news.com.au.
"These machines offer an Opal Single Trip ticket as a 'last resort' option for customers if they leave their Opal card at home."
Although available in Singapore and the Netherlands, disposable smartcards are not available in any Australian city despite systems like Myki having been in place since 2008.
But don't hold your breath waiting for the tickets in other cities.
The cards are available at nine Sydney stations, mostly on the north shore as well as Blacktown and Granville. "The trial enables TfNSW to monitor the use of the Opal Single Trip ticket by customers in a real world setting," the spokeswoman said.
"New machines will be progressively activated for customers over the coming months as Transport technicians test and confirm their readiness at each location."
'YOU CAN SEE THE ELECTRONICS IN THEM'
The head of the Public Transport Users Association of Australia (PTUA), Daniel Bowden, welcomed the move in NSW but questioned why Victoria's Myki system had already done away with paper tickets but not brought in a replacement such as a single-use smartcard.
A Reddit user had posted that the single use cards were, "thinner than the plastic Opal cards, flimsy and made of paper. You can see the electronics if you hold them up to the light."
The PTUA's Mr Bowden said the introduction of the cards was a positive step.
"Ultimately authorities in each city need to make sure there are simple and easy to use options for passengers paying their fare including those that are making a one off trip such as tourists," he said.
"My assumption is Sydney would be phasing out paper tickets and using single-use smartcards instead."
SMALL COLLECTION OF SMARTCARDS
In Melbourne, paper tickets were ditched in 2012 forcing customers to buy reloadable Myki cards. But a year previously, the city ended its experiment with a "short-term" Myki card which has left many baffled.
"We've heard a lot of cases of people who left their tickets at home and have been forced to buy another $6 smartcard plus the fare just to travel," Mr Bowden said.
"In some cases they end up with a small collection of smartcards sat home in a desk drawer so offering an alternative is a good idea."
A spokesman for Public Transport Victoria told news.com.au, "The decision not to introduce a short-term ticket option was made by the government of the day".
He said Mykis were suitable for people taking infrequent trips and could be replaced free of charge if registered. Although it's unlikely this could happen before they had shelled out for a new card to get to work.
I n some stations 15 people have been seen queuing, with some saying they had missed their trains to work and home.
TfNSW would not confirm as much but it's possible the delay was at least partly due to the organisation waiting for new machines that can both top-up reloadable Opals and dispense single-use smartcards.
While NSW was late to smartcards, introducing them some four years after Victoria and Queensland, there have been persistent rumours the Opal card system will soon allow passengers to tap on and off with their debit and credit cards.
In December, TfNSW told news.com.au that the organisation's aim was to roll out smartcards "and then plan for the next stage."
"The Opal platform is flexible and scalable so it can migrate to the next proven and stable payments technology."