Save on NSW regional trains using Opal

How I can potentially save $30 off a single one-way trip using an Opal card

If you live in or travel frequently to regional NSW, one way to travel to and from Sydney is to ride on one of NSW TrainLink’s regional train or coach services.  Services may be sparse and are still rarely packed.  North Coast services are a bit lengthy compared with a road trip on the Pacific Highway, but fares are generally cheaper than fuel for one person.

This week, I travelled home to Taree on the Grafton XPT NSW TrainLink service from Sydney (Central) – the trip took 5.5 hours and cost $46.80 – one way.  But on the way up to Taree, stopping by Broadmeadow and Dungog, I realised that there is potential to save even more!

If I swapped out part of my journey to use regular Intercity TrainLink services (the ones within the Opal network), I can potentially save around 70% of a regular one-way ticket.  A single one-way trip from Sydney to Taree costs $46.80, where as a single one-way trip from Broadmeadow to Taree costs $25.02.  Further shortening the trip from Dungog to Taree only costs $18.56.  Compare that cost difference with the maximum train fare on an Opal card which is $8.30 (peak) or $5.81 (off-peak).

This could mean your $46.80 fare could be reduced almost by half to $24.37 (Sydney to Dungog on Intercity services, Dungog to Taree on Regional services).  The deal is even better if you’ve reached your weekly travel reward cap of 8 journeys or travel on a Sunday when Opal fares are capped at $2.50 – where the minimum cost would be $18.56 and $21.06 respectively.

TrainLink Intercity Intercity Cost TrainLink Regional Regional Cost Total cost
Central to Taree $46.80 $46.80
Central to Broadmeadow
$5.81 Broadmeadow to Taree $25.02 $30.83
Central to Broadmeadow
$8.30 Broadmeadow to Taree $25.02 $33.32
Central to Dungog
$5.81 Dungog to Taree $18.56 $24.37
Central to Dungog
$8.30 Dungog to Taree $18.56 $26.86
Central to Dungog
(travelling Sunday)
$2.50 Dungog to Taree $18.56 $21.06
Central to Dungog
(weekly travel cap)
$0 Dungog to Taree $18.56 $18.56

So, if you don’t mind waiting at a station to change trains, you could save over half of your transport costs travelling to regional NSW.

Netflix launches in Australia with 1k titles!

Netflix has finally launched its Australian and New Zealand offerings. Needless to say, one of the first questions was “what movies/TV shows are being offered”?

Based on my initial number crunching, it looks like a total of 1,326 titles are being offered by Netflix in Australia. I’ve compiled a spreadsheet that lists all titles I was able to get from the Netflix site. There is also a US vs CA vs AU comparison on the second sheet of that spreadsheet.

Here’s a quick comparison grid for Netflix in Australia, the US and Canada.

Common titles in AU v US v CA
AU 676* ~145 ~138
US ~145 ~5,649* ~2,291
CA ~138 ~2,291 ~1,567*
AU+US+CA ~367 (common in all 3)
Totals in each countries
Total 1,326 ~8,500^ ~4,000^

* These are unique titles — titles are are only available on that country, and not the other two in this comparison
^US and CA titles are obtained from Netflix Canada vs USA list

Updated at 10:27AM with revised estimates: AU list is now broken down into seasons — this should fix things up a bit. Note, figures are not hugely different. Old figures are at the bottom of the post for comparison.

Please still take these figures with a grain of salt, and take note of the disclaimer below.

Update at 9:00AM: It has come to my attention that the comparison between AU and US/CA isn’t as easy as matching the title IDs as I have done… because of the way the data was extracted. The AU list was obtained by getting a list of titles (for TV shows, it’s the series name) – where as the US/CA list is broken down into each season of the TV show.

An updated spreadsheet is coming soon. Apologies for the inconvenience!

As usual, it looks like Australians are still getting less titles available. One can only hope the list of titles offered by Netflix in Australia will increase as time goes on.

Disclaimer: the numbers are estimates and for reference only. There is no guarantee of their absolute accuracy and may only be good for “order of magnitude” approximations.



NZ Chrous projected efficiency savings of fibre rollout

NZ aims for at least 75% FTTP, AU stuck at 26%

In a presentation to institutional investors yesterday, Chrous, the leading telecommunications company in New Zealand projected that at least 75% of premises will be connected using FTTP/B by the end of 2020 — in sharp comparison with the 26% planned for the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix National Broadband Network (MTM NBN).

In a world where the majority of the world is moving towards a full-fibre deployment to replace existing infrastructure, NBN Co and the Coalition’s policy takes the reverse approach in phasing out an FTTP rollout in favour for a inferior FTTN network topology. Under the MTM model, brownfields Fibre to the Premises rollout will stop by CY2018 with the remainder of the rollout being FTTN-only. This means that under this model as bandwidth demands grow, Australians will be provided an upgraded service without the capacity and capability of delivering the demand needed.

In the contrary however, Chrous NZ and other telcos in New Zealand will be taking the initiative of rolling out Fibre to the Premises to deliver the demands of the present and the future. As indicated by the graph on their second slide, four providers will continue to pass premises incrementally into 2020 — with Chrous leading the way with a stable forecasted rollout rate.

Chorus NZ Investor Presentation: Slide 2
Slide 2: Rollout of Fibre to the Premises continues to ramp up in NZ until 2020

Likewise, while Chrous is projecting continual efficiency savings in building a fibre network, NBN Co denied any cost saving measures can be implemented or found until 2017-18 when the rollout itself will stop. This is again, at odds with worldwide comparisons.

NZ Chrous projected efficiency savings of fibre rollout
Unlike NBN Co, Chorus seems to know how to save money… by finding efficiencies over course of the rollout

Congratulations to New Zealand for recognising that FTTP is the future. Yes, while we have to concede that a Fibre to the Node rollout will happen… the Coalition should really recognise the technological advantage of having fibre to the premises and the extreme reliability and upgradability of the technology. xDSL technologies will continue to limit Australia’s productivity into the future and will always be limited by distance.

Rather than phase out an FTTP build half-way through the NBN build, the network technology should really be ramped up as the demand grows. There is absolutely no logic in their rollout plans, at all.

New Zealand truly deserves to get a 75% FTTP deployment, what a pity no one in power sees the value of it in Australia today.

NZ Chorus FTTP vs rest of the world
While Australia lags, New Zealand will be the leader in high-speed broadband by 2020.

Secular state funding religious agendas

School chaplaincy program continued at a cost of $243.5 million over five years

The school chaplaincy program has been controversial, to say the least, since it’s conception. Why do we, in a secular society, fund for exclusively Christian spiritual advisory roles in schools.

This is not at all, a criticism of the work that chaplains do in schools. In fact, I believe they do play an important role in the wellbeing of students in schools — not only spiritually, but also socially and emotionally.

But is it conceptually right to enforce Christianity in a secular state? The Australian Government, unlike our British origins, is secular — meaning, not associated with religion or spiritual matters. As the Abbott Government extends funding to the program that required substantial law change as it was found “constitutionally invalid”, I find myself questioning yet again… why is it funding for school chaplains — why is it not a generic funding for “spiritual” or “emotional” advisors, in which chaplains would fit the role in.

Media hits a new low: Devine praises homophobia

We might live in the 21st century, but homophobia still forms a fundamental part of society — be it subliminal or deliberate. As are homophobic slurs, which seem to just flow out of mouths of most youths these days.

You know what I mean? “Gay this, gay that.” “Fag this, queer that.”. People are repeating these words like it’s about to run out of fashion. Is this really part of the Australian culture?

I don’t normally follow the NRL (nor the AFL for that matter), but recent developments have really caught my attention. Primarily after my research into the repeal of Section 18C, I’ve come to realise that rules against bullying, discrimination or bigotry in general is quite strict in the sporting codes. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that those two sports could in fact be the safest association for minorities to be “protected” from discrimination.

This is why when Mitchell Moses made the homophobic slur last week, which was caught on the referee mic, I was quite surprised it got the attention it did. While I’m not advocating or encouraging these slurs in any way, I do of course acknowledge that people do “slip up”. Perhaps being a carer debut, this slip up could be considered really bad timing.

Of course, you’ll have your naysayers, like “journalist” Miranda Devine wrote her ironicly offensive and completely missing-the-point article “NRL bosses are totally gay” to explain that in fact, what Moses said was not a homophobic slur! Wait, what? A homophobic slur was in fact… not homophobic at all? You have me dumbfounded. Let’s hear from the women herself:

“Gay” no longer just means “homosexual”. The word has changed meaning over the last decade. Young people use “gay” to mean lame, or dumb or stupid, as in: “That’s so gay.”

In my honest opinion, that’s the dumbest piece of crap I’ve ever read.

The only reason why the word “gay” is used in the derogatory manner it is today is because of the word’s meaning of homosexuality. The phrase “that’s so gay” does not directly translate to “that’s so dumb”. It’s because “young people” (as Miranda puts it) think homosexuality is unacceptable, something that should be challenged or humiliated for. The use of these words in the manner they’re expressed is the result of homophobic attitudes, full stop.

Before you start redefining the English language, Miranda, I remind you that I am a “young” person. I’m not gay, I would consider myself quite straight on the spectrum. I certainly do not agree with what Moses had said. I’m not in the position to comment on his personality, as I don’t know him at all! He might well be supportive of the LGBTIQ community… but if the NRL did not respond to those comments, it’s putting out a message that those comments are acceptable and tolerated in society. He is, I believe, the first of many martyrs in this growing movement against homophobic intolerance in sport.

The moment role models start using these slurs and “journalists” start believing that it’s “acceptable”… you seriously start to wonder the integrity of Australian culture. Mateship? Fair go for all? Nah, just a growing homophobic epidemic.