I got a Myki, and it only cost $1.3 billion

I tried Myki for myself on Saturday in Geelong. Bought one for the promotional price of $5 in the special Myki Shop in Ryrie Street and hopped on a bus to the station.

(HQ available if you click through)

Some brief notes on it:

  • It worked as advertised. Took $1.80 from my initial $5 balance
  • The scanners are slow, much slower than your typical big building door scanner, which does the equivalent job
  • The bus driver seemed delighted that three passengers in a row all scanned successfully, commenting “beautiful!”
  • As a first timer, I accidentally waved the ticket at the screen initially when getting off the bus. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s done this, though I guess it’s a mistake you’d only make once. Though I wonder how much time others would take to work it out.

I’ve since gone onto the web site and registered my Myki and looked at my transactions. The web site needs some work.

  • Despite a lot of the literature (including the ticket) giving the address, this doesn’t actually work. You have to go to
  • The registration page is pretty clunky
  • It doesn’t show you any detail of the transaction except the time and cost. Useful information like the zone(s) or route(s) you used aren’t shown.

I know it’s only the equivalent of beta testing, but given they’ve already pushed it into Geelong and Seymour, with Ballarat imminent, I’d have thought they’d have pretty much perfected it by now.

And while I think it’ll be handy (if it works properly, and if the current design flaws are fixed), I still don’t think it’s worth the huge cost. (At $1.3 billion, which includes building it and running it for ten years, it’s costing every man, woman and child in Victoria about $260 each.)

And I maintain that if they keep scan off, it’s going to cause chaos on Melbourne’s trams at busy times.

Previously noted problems with Myki

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

17 replies on “I got a Myki, and it only cost $1.3 billion”

Damn I was in Geelong last week if I’d known I would have got one.

So now you’ve got a myki Daniel, is it likely that will be the only one you ever need?

I think in order for this to be useful on Melbourne’s trams the scanners will have to be located much closer to the tram doors than the metcard validators are. This would give each person easy access to scan their card. When a tram is crowded I sometimes have to make an effort to get past people to validate my card as the validators are not always next to the doors. As you pointed out this would have to be done a second time when one gets off.

I have also noticed that many times I am the only one boarding a tram who actually bothers to validate their card. It seems most people just hop on and take a seat.

With the Myki system will a monthly card still be a flat rate or will people be charged for each trip?

What are the consequences if you scan on, but due to crowd pressure fail to scan off? Does it then mean you can’t automatically enter a train station or other bus/tram?

Also frustrating is that I can’t purchase a Myki online because I don’t live in Geelong. Seems a bit short-sighted if they actually want people to go and try it out.

Great information, thanks!

Looks like they need some more obvious graphics to show you where to scan, like the yellow circles the Metcard validators have had for years but never used.

I’ve noticed that most government web sites don’t load if you just type their name. You have to add the www. I don’t know why this is. My personal web site handles this without a problem and I know nothing about setting up a domain name.

This whole Myki situation is ridiculous. $1.3 billion dollars and it doesn’t look like it’s half ready for public consumption.

Nathan, who knows!

Jed, the Myki validators on the trams will be where the plastic holders for them have already been placed. Many people don’t re-validate now because there’s little point if you already have a ticket.

Under Myki you will still be able to have a monthly card (called a Myki pass). See my previous post.

Froosh, if you don’t scan off then you get charged “a provisional fare”. It’s not really clear what this means, but it may be that it assumes you travelled to the end of the line (for multi-zone services), and I saw a snippet of info somewhere that suggested they may slug you a small amount such as 20 cents in other cases (at least for Geelong single-zone buses).

I doubt it would mean you can’t scan-on again somewhere else.

I tried buying one on the web site but after it had taken my details it told me I couldn’t have one because I don’t live in the Greater Geelong area. Presumably I’ll never use a bus in that area. I mean, come on. We know the reason it’s being tested on that particular route is that hardly anyone uses it so there’s little potential for embarrassment, but I am in a position to use that bus at times and I’d like to try this thing, especially as it’s currently discounted and it looks like everyone else will miss out on that (tiny) discount.

Thanks for the link to the other post Daniel. I have seen the plastic holders that are in your photo but I thought they were to hold the pamphlets that are sometimes displayed in them. I had no idea that they were part of the new system. I have seen the new installations at train station entrances that are now just stainless steel panels on a small post and guessed they are for the new system. At this rate of progress it seems that by the time it is fully operational it will already be obsolete technology.

I thought that was one of the things pushing the price up and holding back the release time – that the Govt wanted the details of travel taken on which tram/train/bus, etc, but it’s not available ?

When in Geelong last Thursday I decided to perform a random survey of people’s opinions of Myki. I spoke to six people and no-one had ever used it, or had much idea of what it was. Some had never heard of it, and It appears hardly anyone in Geelong uses the bus system. I also noticed very few passengers on passing buses. So, thank you Daniel for providing the information I was seeking.

Peter: wonder which route buses in Geelong you saw. My own observations are the opposite – Route 10 on Saturdays for instance carries full seated loads. And seat occupancy can exceed 100% as a lot of people alight at Corio Village to be replaced by others going into town. Route 35/36 and 55 are fairly quiet, 45 middling and 16 busy (so busy there was boarding through both doors).

Daniel: Another good myki intro appears here:

I was in Geelong the weekend preceding your visit Daniel. I walked to Pakington St and went to a newsagent and asked for a myki card. the girl had never heard of them. my friend bought a copy of the geelong advertiser and while perusing over an excellent coffee he said ‘hey heres an ad for that bus thing’. the ad advised that we needed to travel to *A* shop in the geelong cbd to procure a myki card. One shop.

Having minor gunzel tendencies, we drove to Ryrie St and i bought a myki card and grabbed some of the free documentation that was promoting it. There were four staff members in this shop on a saturday arvo. i was the only person in the shop for the ten minutes i was there talking to them.

I dont live in geelong but thought that actually using the card might be a hoot, so asked for a bus route map or bus timetable. no, they didnt have any, they just sold myki cards. So we drove back to my friends place.

What sort of trial is actually being conducted ?

“The scanners are slow, much slower than your typical big building door scanner, which does the equivalent job”

Daniel, I agree with some of the points that you make but are you serious about the quote above? A building door scanner is nothing like a smartcard system. A door scanner card has no processor, no memory, it’s just a dumb card that does the same thing every time it’s presented. A smartcard and reader have to check security keys, calculate and store your fare (this isn’t as simple as you’d think… why is the Fares & Ticketing Manual 116 pages long?!), process stored requests to add more money or pass, check the card against a list of lost or stolen cards etc etc, all in less than a second.

Let’s not be simplistic. The myki system has to do some very complex tasks in a fraction of a second.

I read a piece in the Herald Sun yesterday where they spoke to a few ordinary people, and the general view amongst those who had used it was that it worked well. I’m looking forward to seeing it in Melbourne.

Well, hold on… a building key reader has encryption, and before it unlocks the door for you, it validates that the key is correct for that location, date, time and key holder, and logs your entry. The intelligence is all in the reader, but it’s not as simple as simply opening the door for you.

Sure, the F+T Manual is long, but the rules themselves are very simple (a lot of the manual is carriage conditions etc), and in fact the fare rules have been standardised to make the implementation easier. (Not doing that was Sydney’s downfall.)

The bottom line is that the readers I saw in Geelong are not fast enough that they won’t cause delays on busy systems (eg Melbourne) when implemented, unless they speed them up. And even then, the scan-off requirement is going to cause issues. (See my previous post on this, which quotes the TTA’s own studies showing delays will happen.)

As the for people asked in the Herald Sun, half of those that said it worked okay hadn’t actually used it!

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