Basmah Qazi

Retirement Income

Newstart Opal card? Push to lower fares for those living on $40 a day

Newstart Opal card? Push to lower fares for those living on $40 a day

Social services are pushing for the NSW Government to create a Newstart Opal card to benefit those on unemployment benefits.

If the scheme gets the green light, those on Newstart allowance who live on $277 a week would have a cap of $2.50 per day for public transport.

According to the NSW Council of Social Services, those living on the dole have the same living conditions as pensioners, and they argue that Opal fares should take that into account.

“Not having enough money to move around to access employment opportunities is an insurmountable one,” said the peak body to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Providing deeper concessions to the costs of transport for people living below the poverty line could make a big difference.”

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal is reviewing Opal fares for the next four years.

But Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that there is currently no plan in place to reduce fares for those on Newstart, as taxpayers heavily fund public transport costs.

“Newstart, as a program, is designed to act as a transition payment for people to go from being unemployed to a new job,” he said.

There are currently 200,000 people on Newstart with one in four aged between 55 and 64, with the Combined Pensioners and Superannuates Association saying public transport costs are at “crisis point”.

Opal concession cards are available for those on welfare, but the cap is currently $8 a day or $25 a week.