Myki on buses

Two weeks ago I noted that Myki mostly works. In most cases the charging is fine. The readers seem more reliable and mostly fairly responsive (and faster than inserting a Metcard into a slot and waiting for it to come out again).

What doesn’t work? Well buses in particular have issues, it seems. As this video shows, some readers don’t beep loudly enough or are silent, one bus got the zone wrong, and we found one dead reader.

The zone problem

The zone problem is partly due to the prolonged transition between Metcard and Myki. In my case it caused a $1.10 overcharge (instead of a $5.88 Zone 1 daily fare, I ended up with a $4.04 Zone 2 daily fare, plus a $2.94 Zone 1 two-hour fare), and I requested a refund. When it was granted, it was accompanied by this explanation in the email:

As we move to a new ticketing system, Metcard and myki will operate alongside each other for a period of time and this is the case on all buses. Because buses don’t have all of the myki equipment just yet, the system can’t pick up a bus’s location as accurately as it will be able to when everything is installed and as a result of this a bus can sometimes charge a different fare.

To be precise, the bus driver is unable to enter the route and direction, which would give the equipment a little more information to be able to correctly detect which zone it’s in.

This is very rare and is only expected to impact people who travel near zone boundaries and overlap zones and in most cases you will be charged a lower fare. We are working to rectify this issue as soon as possible but in the mean time, we do request that you contact us to organise any reimbursements that may be needed.

This issue was first found on the very first day of Myki operation on buses. I have noticed it is occurring less frequently than it was back then, but it’s still a problem, and it means people like me who use buses near the zone boundaries need to watch carefully for it until it’s properly fixed — or, in all likelihood, until the Metcard equipment is gone… if it happens, of course. I’m just glad I’m not a very frequent bus user in this area… I usually walk to the station. It would be a pain if it was part of your daily commute.

Other issues

Dead readers are still around, but I would say becoming less common. But there are reports of some (brand new?) buses out in service with no Myki readers at all.

Beeps not being loud enough (and being the same for both touch-on and touch-off) is something that’s been highlighted for months now, but still not fixed.

So does it work?

As I said earlier, it mostly works. The zone problem is peculiar to buses near zone boundaries (and the Transport Ticketing Authority must be cursing the fact that I live near a zone boundary).

It’s probably worth noting that Commuter Club Yearly tickets have already made the switch to Myki, and periodicals like this are the least likely to have issues, particularly for people who never catch buses near zone boundaries. Even forgetting to touch-off isn’t a problem, as periodicals do not incur a default (“we assume you went to the end of the line”) fare like Myki Money (pay as you go) users do.

As it happens, Marita’s Yearly ticket (which she started using in December) stopped working last week. Will be interested to see if it is replaced with a 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.

15 replies on “Myki on buses”

This is not exactly apropos, but when I read “dear readers are still around” I first understood it as meaning dried up husks of commuters slouched over their copies of Proust (somebody should do something about them). My brain is doing strange things.

Interesting about Marita’s yearly metcard, Daniel. I’d love to know how many yearly metcards actually survive until the end of the year when they are validated on every trip. And of course it would be pretty painful if your yearly metcard got eaten up or jammed in a reader/gate (I once lost a monthly metcard in a station reader a week before expiry, inserted it, heard a horrible grinding sound and that was the end of that!).

Meanwhile my own yearly myki hopefully on it’s way, I wonder if I’ll be using it for the entire year though? Nothing would surprise me.

My Myki works well though it does not record all my trips, which I find rather odd. However it isn’t overcharging me.

I have been on several buses out Belgrave way (US Buslines) without a reader. This doesn’t get me a free trip because I still have to present the card at Belgrave station for an onward trip.

I often get on a tram where one or more of the readers are out of order. On one last Thursday, ALL of them were out of order.

Every time I’ve experienced a ticket inspection (yesterday being the most recent), the Authorised Offices just acknowledge my Myki without using their little devices to check if I’ve actually touched on. However my wife had her card checked electronically in an inspection a few weeks back.

Now all this money has been spent on reinventing an oyster, it would be throwing good money after bad to scrap it and start all over.

@Nathan, I used Yearly Metcards for many years. I think twice I needed to get them replaced, though it was never in the first month.

@David, every ticket inspection in the last few months, the AOs have had a portable reader, which has worked. Yes, it does sound like some bus companies are still missing Myki equipment on their buses.

My issue with buses is not near zone boundaries, its buses that operate in both zones at different times. I catch a bus sometimes from my station and the the whole journey (train and bus) is in Zone 1, but the bus has on a couple of occasions charged me a Zone 2 fare (in addition to my already paid Zone 1 fare). When I complained to Miki, I was told that it happens because the driver has not reset the Miki equip to say the route is only in Zone 1, hence the bus thinks its in Zone 2. The whole scenario of buses is still dodgy!!

@Nathan asked about survival rates for yearly metcards. My survival rate is, like Daniel’s, pretty good.

I’ve been using the validator-style yearly metcards since they first became available in the mid 1990s – which was, incidentally, quite some time after the validator-style daily and weekly metcards became available – a good two years or so, I think. I can clearly remember riding on trams in the mid 1990s and being on the receiving end of occasional glares and harumphing from busybody fellow commuters because I didn’t bother to validate my ticket. (How could I? – it was made of cardboard!) I’d just glare and harumph right back.

So that’s a period of – what? – 15 years, at least? And in that time, I only recall two years when the yearly metcard didn’t last the distance. The first time it happened, I tried to do the right thing. I submitted it for a replacement at my local station, and the moronic station attendant insisted I fill in a stat dec to say the card didn’t work and then go to the nearest police station to get it witnessed. I protested that this was pointless – he could prove for himself that it didn’t work, merely by trying it out in the station validator! Stat decs only make sense for lost or stolen cards, not for malfunctioning ones. But my protests were futile; he refused to accept the form without the police officer’s signature. (I should have stood my ground, because the next day I fired off a letter of complaint to whichever outfit was running the train system at the time, and they vindicated my position.)

The second time the yearly metcard failed to last the distance, I really couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of trotting off to the station and filling in the paperwork to get it replaced, stat dec or no stat dec. So I did nothing. Literally did nothing. Whenever I got on a bus, I’d show the card to the driver and explain that it wouldn’t validate. Whenever going through a city station barrier, I’d do the same thing to the attendant at the gate. And whenever riding on trams, I’d do nothing at all.

I think those were the only two times the card failed before the year was up. Mostly, it has worked just fine for the full 12 months.

Right now I’m using a yearly metcard that won’t expire until mid December 1911 – if there are still any old-style validators by then.

I’ve used a myki since my yearly ran out in November. I didn’t validate it much on trams, and it’s lasted well.

Using the myki, a couple of weeks ago I was charged a zone 2 trip on the 510 bus, which doesn’t actually ever go into zone 2. It was reimbursed of course, but it was a pain having to report it. Other than that, they’ve been ok on a half a dozen different routes (mostly through brunswick, but some city to kew). Inspectors have been 50/50 with/without card readers (trains/trams). I’ve had no troubles with city barriers.

I once caught a bus one evening, on my way to the destination it charged me zone 1 ($2.94) and on the way back it charged Zone 2 ($2.02), I used the same bus stops to do this. The zones must be controlled by the bus drivers and a lot of drivers forget when to change zones.
The problem about the reimbursement is that it cost more to call than you get back, I once spent $14.00 to get back $2.02. I decided to use my Myki just as a infinity X weekend daily for the moment.

@Paul, sounds like the person you spoke to didn’t know what they were talking about. The zone problem occurs precisely because bus drivers currently have no interface, and no interaction with the Myki equipment on the buses. See the text from the Myki people, above.

@flerdle, I find the easiest way to get reimbursement is to submit the details via the web site feedback. Works every time for me (and hopefully not just because it’s me.)

@Michael, no. Bus drivers control the zone for Metcard. But not for Myki, as explained in the text in the blog post.

$14? How do you spend $14 on phone calls? Are you trying to say you made 30+ calls?

I just realised that in my last comment I wrote that my yearly metcard will expire in 1911.

You’ll recognise me if you see me on the tram. I’m the woman wearing the crinoline gown with the bustle, and the wide-brimmed hat with feather plumes.

@Daniel Thanks for your response. Does this imply that for a Bus operator that has routes in both Zone 1 and Zone 2, that the charging by Miki will be just random, depending on which bus gets used on which route and when? That sounds even dodgier(?) than I initially thought :-(

@Bonnie, yeah I spotted your typo, but guessed what you meant!

@Paul, at present Myki charging on buses is all based on some algorithm based on GPS. The bus driver, and the actual route the bus is on, have nothing to do with it. That will change once Metcard is gone.

There is still a major issue with Myki on buses in relation to default fares. On buses that traverse both zones (eg Doncaster DART services) it is significantly cheaper NOT to touch off. The default fare is generally $2.94 or $2.02 instead of $4.96 which would be the correct fare if the user touches off after travelling from zone 2 to zone 1 or vice versa, and the readers were changing zones correctly.
On other occasions I have had default fares of $0.00, and times when readers are non functional (they seem to take a long time to become functional from the start of a journey).
This is leading to some pleasant reductions in costs of commuting. For example in the last week, instead of paying $49.60 (5 daily or 10*2 Zone 1+2 2hrly) my myki money has only reduced by $13.96 (4*$2.02 + 2*$2.94 + 1*$0.00 + 3 rides with non functional readers)

@nonscenic, yeah this is a known issue which is actually listed in the Fares + Ticketing Manual and on the web site: until the full installation on buses is done, the default fare if you don’t touch-off is a single zone fare based on where you boarded.

This means that technically if you take a two-zone ride, fail to touch-off and get charged only for one zone, you are fare evading. And it is theoretically possible (though highly unlikely) you could get your ticket checked just after getting off the bus — it does happen on trams and at railway stations though.

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