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Fines and fare compliance

It is an offence to travel on public transport in NSW without being in possession of a valid ticket.

In Sydney and surrounding areas, you must pay your Opal fare on public transport using an Opal card, contactless payment card or device or Opal single ticket. On NSW TrainLink regional train and coach services, you need to book your seats in advance. On regional local buses, tickets are purchased from the driver.

While most people pay the correct fare, fare evasion still happens across the network and means there is less money to spend on extra services and new infrastructure.

Authorised revenue protection officers and NSW Police officers are responsible for ensuring ticketing compliance and patrolling public transport. They have the right to ask to see your ticket and concession entitlement at any time.

In Sydney and surrounds, they can carry Opal card readers to check your balance, recent transaction history and the card type (e.g. Adult, Senior/Pensioner, Concession or Child/Youth) on Opal card and that your contactless card or device is valid and accepted for contactless payments, where you tapped on or off and the fare you paid if the check is done after you have tapped off.

If an Authorised Officer scans your contactless payment card or device during a fare compliance check they can only see information they need to confirm that you have correctly tapped on or tapped off. They cannot see your credit or debit account details, your address, statement or any retail transactions other than the last 10 contactless transport fare trips on your card or device.

Depending on the circumstances, they have the authority to issue an official caution. While this does not require the payment of a penalty notice, your details will be recorded and a penalty notice may be issued if you are found to be committing a similar offence in the future.

If you are caught travelling without a valid ticket, not paying the correct fare or travel using a concession ticket without being in possession of your proof of entitlement card, you may be issued with a fine of $200 (Maximum $550).

Official cautions and penalty notices are either sent by mail to your residential address, or issued on the spot.

Paying a fine

If you have been fined, you will receive a penalty notice either on the spot or in the mail within 7–10 days.

If you wish to dispute the penalty notice, you have the option of writing a letter to the State Debt Recovery Office or elect to have the matter dealt with by a court. Less than 4% of reviews result in the fine being overturned.

You can pay your fine by mail, over the phone or online by visiting the Revenue NSW website, where information about the penalty notice review process is also available.

Travel in the Opal network

Tickets are not available on Opal Only or PrePay buses or at some train stations, ferry wharves and light rail stops. In these cases, you must have an Opal card with enough balance before you travel.

It can take time for your balance to update when you have topped up on the Opal website or the Opal Travel app. It is your responsibility to have sufficient balance on your Opal card or contactless payment card or device at the time of travel.

If you are travelling on any kind of concession ticket, you must be entitled to travel on this ticket and carry your proof of entitlement card with you at all times.

It is your responsibility to have the right ticket for your trip and you must ensure you have a valid ticket that covers the length of your entire journey.

Tickets are easy to buy and ticketing information is freely available. It is not a reasonable excuse to say:

  • "I was running late"
  • "I didn’t know the fare"
  • "I didn’t know what kind of ticket to buy"
  • "I left my concession card at home"
  • "I’ve lost my ticket"
  • "I thought I tapped on"
  • "I forgot to tap on"
  • "I didn’t realise my balance was so low"
  • "I topped up my card just before I tapped on"
  • "I couldn’t get a ticket or top up at the station"

You must always tap on at the start and tap off at the end of each trip with your Opal card or when you are using an Opal single trip ticket on metro, train, ferry and light rail services.

Your Opal card, single trip ticket or contactless enabled card or device is only valid once you have tapped on.

Even when you have reached your Opal daily, weekly or weekend travel caps, you must still tap on and tap off for every trip.

If you have been charged the wrong fare because the Opal reader was not working and you could not successfully tap on or off, then you can apply for a fare adjustment.

Find out more about how to tap on and off, Opal default fares and the minimum balance required to travel.

Exceptions

There is no need to tap on or off Opal single bus tickets.

The other exception is on Sydney Ferry services travelling to and from Manly, where you are only required to tap on. You do not need to tap off as there is only one destination on that service. The fare is automatically calculated and deducted when you tap on.

Each customer travelling must each have their own valid Opal card, contactless payment card or device or Opal single trip ticket.

If asked, you must present the contactless card or device you tapped on or tapped off with to an Authorised Officer.

Authorised Officers patrol public transport services in groups of two or more and can be recognised by their distinctive uniform and badge. They will scan your card or device in your presence to confirm if you are using your card or device correctly.

Authorised Officers have the right to ask to see your ticket, which includes the card or device you tapped on with, at any time. If you cannot produce your ticket for inspection you may be fined up to $550.

Authorised Officers may also:

  • Request your name and address*
  • Ask to see evidence which confirms your identity and address
  • Call the Police to verify your name and address

* If you do not comply with this request, you may be issued with a Caution or Penalty Notice.

A fare compliance check will have one of three outcomes:

All clear
Fare payment has been confirmed. You do not need to do anything.

Overnight check needed
The fare payment cannot be confirmed at this time so a check will be conducted overnight. Don’t worry! If you tapped on for this service with this card or device, nothing will happen. However, if you did not tap on with this card or device you will be charged a default (maximum) fare.

Non-compliance detected
The card or device presented to the Authorised Officer was not used to tap on for this service or cannot be used for contactless transport payments because:

  • it is expired or invalid or*
  • there is an outstanding transport fare debt owing on this card or device or*
  • there is a record of two or more prior fare evasion attempts using this card or device in the last 12 months**

* You may be issued a caution or an infringement.

** In addition to receiving an infringement, this card and any other cards or devices linked to this card will not be accepted for Transport for NSW contactless transport payments for 12 months.

Travel on Regional services

You may be required to produce photo identification at the time of purchasing a ticket or boarding a NSW TrainLink service. NSW TrainLink reserves the right to refuse service to any passengers who fail to comply with such a request and provide a refund of the purchased ticket.

Authorised ticket sales outlets reserve the right to confiscate concession cards, tickets or the like for misuse or any breach of conditions or an infringement of the conditions of travel.

Passengers shall not:

  • Put any part of their body outside any window or doorway of a NSW TrainLink service while it is in motion
  • Enter or leave a NSW TrainLink service while it is in motion
  • Board or leave a service that is not scheduled to pick up or set down passengers
  • Board or leave a service in circumstances where the passenger is not scheduled to board or leave it
  • Board a service without a valid ticket and/or reservation
  • Occupy a sleeping berth or seat without a valid ticket and or reservation
  • Board a service under the influence of alcohol, wearing soiled clothing or being offensive to other passengers.

If a passenger is in breach of a condition of travel NSW TrainLink has the right to refuse service and the contract for carriage between NSW TrainLink and the passenger is immediately terminated without right of refund.

If a passenger breaches any provision of the Passenger Transport Regulation 2017 staff may ask the police to remove the passenger from the service. Under the regulation, train drivers are authorised to direct that a passenger to leave the train in certain circumstances, for example where they are causing or is likely to cause, inconvenience to other passengers or to the driver of the train (whether because the person is under the influence of alcohol or another drug, or for any other reason).

Passengers on NSW TrainLink services are governed by the relevant law of NSW regardless of where the passenger purchased the ticket or in which state an offence is committed.

Further information about conditions of travel