Opal card implant just ‘not the ticket’

By , 25/04/2020 19:36

A man who had an Opal card chip implanted in his hand has admitted train fare evasion (file).A ticket inspector who scanned a NSW travel card chip implanted in a man’s hand said “Wow, that’s crazy” when her reader pinged to confirm he had tapped on before boarding the train.

But that wasn’t enough to save Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow who, on Friday, pleaded guilty to fare evasion because he couldn’t produce the Opal card when confronted by the inspector.

Meow-Meow – his legal name – pleaded guilty in Newtown Local Court to attempting to travel without a ticket and not showing a ticket for inspection in August 2017.

The penalties were issued by Sydney Trains despite Meow-Meow’s hand implant returning a “valid tap-on” to the inspector’s Opal reader app on her mobile.

So surprised was the Sydney Trains inspector to hear her mobile phone confirm the chip read and see confirmation of the valid tap-on, she exclaimed “Wow, that’s crazy” but still proceeded to issue two infringements notices.

The 34-year-old was convicted, fined $220 and ordered to pay costs of $1000 for attempting to travel without a ticket. But no conviction was recorded for his failure to produce a valid ticket.

Court documents show Meow-Meow’s Opal card was tapped-on during his journey through Stanmore and had a credit balance of $14.07.

The media-savvy biohacker cut down his Opal card chip, had it encased in biocompatible plastic and then implanted it just under the skin on his left hand by a piercing expert in April 2017.

The operation, which made headlines around the world, was swiftly followed by a Transport for NSW threat to cancel cards that had been tampered with.

It took less than a day for Meow-Meow’s registered card to be cancelled but, because the chip under his skin was not linked to his name, it remained active until February when it, too, was cancelled.

Meow-Meow on Friday said he was disappointed to be fined and was exploring other options that would allow him to use an implanted chip to pay for his train travel.

“New technology can be scary if you don’t understand it,” Meow-Meow told reporters.

“People have been scared of lots of technologies when they come along.

“(But) this is the next evolution from going from paper tickets to Opal cards to something which means we don’t have to actually carry anything at all.”

Sydney Trains’ efforts to stop the bionic commuter may have been in vain.

Meow-Meow says newly developed implants that allow users to store up to hundred cards coupled with Transport NSW’s new rules allowing travellers to tap on using credit card and smart devices will see him back in action before the end of 2018.

“Next time I swipe on it’ll be completely legal and still implanted,” he said.

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