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NSW Public Transport Patronage Data on the Open Data Hub

Patronage data is information about the number of times a particular (public transport) service has been used, and is among our most popular data on the Open Data Hub. With more than 10 different patronage datasets available, it can be hard to know which is the best for your purposes. In this blog post, we’ll break down what’s available in each of these datasets to help you better understand their differences and possible uses. 

Opal Patronage
Our Opal Patronage dataset contains daily Opal patronage data for train, bus, ferry and light rail since January 2020. The data is available by public transport mode, day of the week and of key commercial centres in greater Sydney and regional NSW - within the Opal network. There is also a visualisation of the Opal Patronage data available on the Transport for NSW website. 

The Opal Patronage data is updated monthly, so if you’re looking for recent patronage information, this is the best dataset to use. It is ideal for comparing public transport patronage over both days and months in 2020 and 2021. 

Opal Tap On and Tap Off
The Opal Tap On and Tap Off datasets provide counts of tap ons and tap offs made on the Opal ticketing system for a number of non-consecutive weeks for certain years. There are currently 3 Opal Tap On and Tap Off datasets available on the Open Data Hub. 

Release 1 contains 2 weeks of data for 2016. These weeks are: 

  • 25 July to 31 July 2016 (before paper ticket retirement – paper ticket data is not included in the dataset)

  • 8 August to 14 August 2016 (after paper ticket retirement).

Release 2 contains an additional 2 weeks of data for 2016. These weeks are: 

The two weeks of Opal data are:

  • 21 November 2016 to Sunday 27 November 2016

  • 26 December 2016 to Sunday 1 January 2017

Both release 1 and 2 provide a count of Opal card taps against time, location and time with location by date and mode.

Release 3 contains 4 weeks of data for 2020. These weeks are: 

  • 24 February 2020 to Sunday 01 March 2020

  • 23 March 2020 to Sunday 29 March 2020

  • 24 August 2020 to Sunday 30 August 2020

  • 16 November 2020 to Sunday 22 November 2020

The 2020 release provides a count of Opal card taps by tap on and off time, tap on and off location, tap on and off time and location, and origin and destination by travel zone. These counts also include contactless payments. This dataset includes weeks that show the impact of COVID-19. 

Opal Trips
Our Opal Trips datasets contain utilisation figures based on an individual entering and exiting a wharf or station for each transport mode. Data is in the form of an aggregated monthly figure which represents the estimated number of trips. These datasets are great for identifying public transport utilisation trends over time, as well as comparison between months, years and modes:

  • The Opal Trips - Train dataset provides utilisation figures for Train (by month, operator, line and card type) and Metro (by month, line and card type)

  • The Opal Trips - Light Rail dataset provides utilisation figures for Light Rail services by month, tap on station and card type

  • The Opal Trips - Bus dataset provides utilisation figures for Bus services by contract area, month and card type

  • The Opal Trips - Ferry dataset provides utilisation figures for Ferry services by month, route and card type

We also have the All Modes dataset available which provides a consolidated view of these utilisation figures across all modes. Reported taps are a combination of Opal card and contactless payments.

Train Station Entries and Exits Data
The Train Station Entries and Exits dataset provides patronage figures as an average of a three day sample, representing 'a typical day' of customer entries and exits at each train station from 2016 to 2020 sorted by time slot as well as a 24-hour count. 

In this dataset you can also find Train Station Monthly Usage in Excel format, which contains the total number of entries and exits for each station from January 2017 to December 2020.

Patronage Data for On-Demand Services
We also have patronage data available for on-demand services and on-demand pilots. Our On-Demand Patronage dataset contains monthly patronage data for the On Demand Public Transport services operating in The Ponds and Norwest which commenced on 27 May 2019.

The On-Demand Pilots - Patronage dataset provides patronage data for NSW On Demand bus and electric bike pilots.

Can I get more recent/granular patronage data?
The Opal system is a ticketing system used to provide access control onto our network. The data from the system provides us guidance on patronage and is not necessarily 'real time'.  

Datasets released via a differentially private algorithm ensure that all known classes of privacy attacks (such as, re-identification) have little chance of success. In particular and very importantly the mathematical properties of the algorithm and resulting dataset provide the same protection for new privacy attacks that may be developed in the future, ensuring they too have little chance of success.

Due to privacy and security reasons, Opal data goes through a more thorough approval process before it can be published. The raw Opal data is anonymised by an algorithm for de-identification purposes. All of these factors means it takes longer to get that data out there. At this stage, we do not know when the next release of the Tap On and Tap Off will be.

Looking for more patronage data? Data requests can be made via the Open Data Forum and our Data Request Form. Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with data releases, innovation challenges, and more.