While it may be tempting to claim a free ride amid a cost-of-living crisis, Sydney commuters are being warned they can still cop a fine during the ongoing train strikes.
The gates at stations across the city have been left open as part of the ongoing industrial action by the Rail, Tram, and Bus Union (RTBU).
Union members will not be checking whether passengers have tapped on, and there are fears the industrial action could cost Transport NSW $10 million in lost revenue, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Yet commuters can still be slapped with a sizeable on-the-spot fine of $200 and are being warned they have a legal requirement to tap on and off, regardless of the gates being open.
A NSW Police spokesperson told Yahoo Finance Australia that while there is not an increased police presence, officers are seeking out fare evaders as part of their “regular operational” duties.
“It’s business as usual … it’s the responsibility of passengers to tap on,” they said.
A small minority of staff who are not union members can also issue infringements.
While the RTBU told Sydneysiders the open gates that began over the weekend meant “it’s a good time to go travelling”, a spokesperson clarified it was not saying commuters would not cop a fine.
“We’re not saying that people won’t get fined — that is a risk,” a spokesperson told Junkee.
“We’re just leaving the Opal gates open.”
Station staff who are union members will not be checking Opal cards until September 6.
One photo shared to Reddit over the weekend appeared to show a transport officer checking the fares of passengers onboard a Sydney train, prompting others to comment they too had seen staff checking tickets and issuing fines.
“They always increase their presence during strikes,” one person said.
Fines for evading a fare can rise to a maximum of $550.