The new Sydney train timetable blamed for meltdowns on the network has increased demand and eased overcrowding one year on, a department report has found.
But the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) said it was “spin” the timetable had been beneficial for commuters.
The report findings come as Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced train users could touch-on using a credit card from Monday.
An extra 1500 weekly services were added to the network last November, before repeated system-wide failures early this year.
Transport for NSW on Monday labelled the timetable a success, saying it increased demand but still cut crowds.
There were 4.3 per cent more morning-peak passengers in the year to March on the target train lines – the T1 Western, T2 Inner West & Leppington, T3 Bankstown, T5 Cumberland, and T8 Airport & South lines.
At the same time, crowding on those lines dropped from 137 per cent to 127 per cent. It means crowding is now below the 135 per cent benchmark that affects service reliability.
Wait times reduced across the network by 5 per cent on weekdays and 8 per cent on weekends.
Meanwhile, demand for weekday travel increased 5 per cent over the year from March 2017 to March 2018.
“This report is proof that we couldn’t sit back and do nothing. This was the timetable that Sydney needed,” Mr Constance said in a statement on Monday.
RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens said the network had “no contingency room” and falls to pieces “when one thing goes wrong”.
“If something happens on one train line, it throws the entire city into chaos because the train network isn’t resourced or timetabled with the capacity to manage these incidents,” Mr Claassens said.
Government claims that the new train timetable has been beneficial for commuters is absolute spin.”
Mr Constance lashed the Labor opposition for saying the government should abandon the timetable when the network went into meltdown.
Sydney Trains cut 94 weekly services in March to ease pressure brought on by the more intensive timetable after a review into the chaos.
That report also recommended Sydney Trains quickly hire more crew and “untangle” rail connections to stop incidents cascading the entire network.
Mr Constance on Monday announced train users could now tap-on using their debit or credit card, or smart device if it is connected to a bank card.
The fare would be the same as an Opal adult fare, based on the distance travelled.
Concession prices, the weekly travel discount and the transfer discount are not available on the new technology.
“That said, if you lose your Opal card and you don’t have time, you can just pull out your credit card – or your iPhone or iWatch – and away you go,” Mr Constance told reporters on Monday.
The daily, weekly and Sunday travel caps will apply.
Mr Constance said an extra $1 transaction fee would temporarily be charged, but would be refunded.
Mr Constance described the announcement as “the largest transformation in the Opal system since its introduction back in 2012”.
He said the Opal card would not be phased out.
The technology – first trialled on ferries and light rail – will be rolled out onto buses in the first half of next year.