Privatisation push leaves seniors stranded

Privatisation push leaves seniors stranded Main Image

10 November 2022

Seniors in Lake Macquarie are being stranded with no access to Opal card top ups for use on public transport in suburbs across the Charlestown electorate.

Bus services are a mainstay for the region to access medical appointments, visit friends and family or enjoy community activities.

For seniors on a fixed income, the discounted daily rate of $2.50 on the Gold Opal Seniors/Pensioner card makes leisure activities affordable.

But many of the retailers who once provided Opal Card sales or top up services no longer do so. Eleebana recently lost its last provider of Opal services and they are not currently available in the Redhead, Dudley, Whitebridge, Gateshead, Hillsborough and Cardiff South areas.

“My office has been contacted by constituents who have no access to internet or telephone banking and have no way of topping up their card remotely,” Jodie Harrison MP, Member for Charlestown, said.

“If they tap onto a bus with a credit card, they are charged the full adult rate, not the concession rate.”

The adult rate is capped at $16.80 a day – a big hike from the $2.50 daily rate.

Ms Harrison said this was another failure resulting from the Liberal-National Government’s privatisation agenda.

“No one should face the embarrassment of asking a bus driver for a free ride, or possibly facing a fine, in order to reach an Opal card top up point.

“Charlestown commuters are being disadvantaged because this Government’s privatisation measures made no move to ensure access to this vital service,” Ms Harrison said.

“The result is that vulnerable people are missing out.

“We know that the privatisation push in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie has resulted in a poorer service for commuters. Now a failure to adequately plan for Opal card services means some seniors can’t even access public transport.”