Govt plan: you must have a Myki to travel

Myki short term ticketThis is a Short Term Ticket. Part of the Myki system, they are available in regional cities using Myki, for two-hour or daily fares, for people who don’t have a reusable Myki smartcard.

Something that was missed in the announcement last month was that it’s not just trams where you won’t be able to buy a single-use ticket on board. It’s all modes. The Short Term Tickets won’t be used in Melbourne, and will be removed from use in regional areas.

It’s understandable that they’d not go ahead with these specific tickets. Their two major problems are that they cost about 35 cents to produce, and they have no human-readable information (such as the fare, zones or amount paid) on them.

But to abolish them with no replacement (such as a printed paper ticket, using the technology already in Myki machines used to print topup receipts) I think is a mistake.

It means you will have to buy a reusable Myki card (currently priced at $10 adult, $7 concession) at a station, at a retailer, or online, and top it up before you can travel. This means a significant extra cost and effort for new and occasional public transport users.

For example, a family of two adults and two kids who fly in for two days poking around Melbourne (zone 1 only). Currently on weekdays and Saturdays they’d buy Metcards, and pay 4 x $7 plus 4 x $3.80 = $43.20 for two days of travel for the four of them.

Under Myki, assuming the current costings, they’d have to pay 2 x $10 plus 2 x $7 just to get the cards. They’d need to topup the cards with extra money for the actual fares: 4 x $6.04 plus 4 x $3.02, so a total of $70.24 (and probably a bit more as they may not know the exact fares in advance, and when topping up fares with cash at machines, you don’t get change and the smallest denomination accepted is 10 cents).

It’s hard to imagine a better way of discouraging new users (be they tourists or locals) from using public transport… which is probably why no other major city in the world appears to do this.

Some cities (Melbourne included) won’t accept buying a fare on specific bus routes, or at specific stops. Some cities make you buy a fare off the system before using a tram or bus. But so far I haven’t found any that make you pay for a card, then pay extra for fares before you are able to use any services at all. (If you know of any, please leave a comment.)

The Transport Ticketing Authority may yet announce changes that will solve these problems, but so far there’s been nothing announced other than a pledge to increase the number of retailers (which was going to happen anyway; eg every 7-11). And I understand at a lunchtime press conference they said they are considering a card return/refund system for tourists.

Unlike in some cities such as Hong Kong or Singapore, for non-CBD trips especially, public transport in Melbourne is the minority mode. To attract new users, it has to be as friendly and easy to use as possible. Making people find an outlet or machine to buy a re-usable $10 card and load it with money before they can travel represents a new, significant hurdle to prospective users.

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.

22 replies on “Govt plan: you must have a Myki to travel”

it has always been my principle that a business should make it as easy as possible for consumers to use its product and pay for the right to use the product.

Thus, I accepted all cards, cheques, eft and cash.

The concept being proposed is all about myki and not about the consumer – that a supposed business oriented political party should not understand basic business principles is frighteneing!

Seems a shame, and a missed opportunity. Lisbon has temporary tickets, but you buy them and can recharge them just like the proper things; they just don’t last that long, so it’s up to you to decide whether you need a real one or not. We used ours for the four days when we were there, and they worked perfectly — probably would have lasted about a month.

Even the deposit you can technically get back on Oyster cards would be a potential model to copy.

The implementors of Myki seem determined to reinvent as many wheels as possible, as badly as possible. What a depressing, wasteful outcome.

Your link to the PTUA policy doesn’t mention one improvement which I would love to see – showing you the expiry time on your 2-hour Myki money ticket when you touch on or off. How they can implement a time-based ticket system and then not give you the most basic time-based informaion is beyond me…

The thermal printed receipt should be just fine. Give it a reference number that can be checked by the ticket inspectors if you’re worried about forgeries. Charge more (ie in the ACT, a cash ticket is $4, the card $2.50) so anyone more than very occasional gets a smartcard, but the option is there for infrequent travellers.
Actually a thermal receipt would be more useful than myki, since instead of telling you that $3.02 had been deducted, it might actually instead display useful information like the time your 2 hour ticket expired…

What they should do is drop the ridiculous $10 every 3 year fee for the reusable Mykis. You can bet these don’t cost anything like $10 to produce. Or if they must have the fee, at least treat some of it as an initial top-up.

PRO: Tourists and Melbourne locals will pay more, ansd those that don’t will pay fines. More money for everyone.

CON: The lobbyist that proposed this will be gone with his million-dollar fee+bonus well before the bad idea becomes common knowledge, as will the pollies and beaurocrats that proposed this.


Have you people not traveled round the world? There are a number of solutions that cities have tried that work:

– Offer a ‘Melbourne access’ card for tourists for sale in all hostel (they get a cut) With 1-2-4-weekly access to our transport system and a number of ‘key’ tourist destinations
– Sell miki at all hotels. You pay the hotel the deposit, the hotel gives you back the deposit .
– Offer free travel with a valid hotel booking – Basel in Switzerland do this – I can’t see this flying here :-)
– Allow ‘paywave’ and swipe and pay credit cards to access the system – the underlying protocols are the same. Probably too hard for Myki and we probably don’t want to pay them any more money for development.
– Sell Myki cards and use if for the bus that goes from the airport – so $50 get you the return trip to the city (or whatever it is) and a Myki card with $10 on it. Hand it back when you get off the bus on the way out.

And remember – tourists are there to take money off any way possible. I have been riped off by cities the world over for local transport systems. Why should we be the only ones to miss out?

A lot of people have to post their myki back to Kamco when they are defective or the bank payment system doesn’t work.

What are they supposed to do for three weeks while they wait for it to be sent back ?

Can’t get a metcard.

Can’t get a disposable short-term myki either.

I would think most if not all visitors to Melbourne would take a tram ride sometime during their visit as it is a major part of the city’s culture and a great way to get around the city. Uninformed visitors will board trams and then look for somewhere to pay the fare. When they find that there is no way to pay they are likely to shrug their shoulders, continue their journey for free, and hope that they are not caught by an inspector. This often happens now when riders don’t have the proper change for the Metcard machines on trams. The system could be collecting a lot of missed fares/revenue from people who would like to pay but have no coins to do so.

I cannot believe that someone would be so stupid as to think it is not necessary to have some sort of short term ticket or other convenient payment system for short term visitors.

Most of Geoff’s ideas are very good ones that might be worth a try. A simple on board vending machine that printed cheap paper tickets or even a paper receipt/docket that would not need to actually be validated but simply be shown to an inspector to prove fare payment if requested would suffice. If the machine could also accept notes and debit/credit cards it would be a big improvement over the present system.


3 weeks? That’s if everything goes to plan. It took me about 2 months to get my Myki replaced after I lost my wallet a while back.

When this latest Myki announcement was made I really believe they got it about as wrong as they possibly could have.

1) No short term tickets has got to be the biggest bungle. Absolutely absurd.

2) No top-up machines on trams? I’m sure we’ve all repeatedly read about the so called “advantage” of not having to carry change to buy a metcard now that Myki is around. Personally I always had a 10×2 hour metcard or weekly/monthly pass so carrying change was rarely a problem for me. However when tickets did expire, I did need to buy a ticket. It was handy being able to buy one!

3) Keeping Metcard until December 2012? Hang on, isn’t it far more expensive to run two ticketing systems than one? Aren’t a lot of the problems with Myki associated with having to run alongside Metcard? Frankenbarriers playing up, on-board computer systems not being able to be turned on properly?

Sorry Terry and Teddy, but you’re track record thus far isn’t looking good.

If you order a myki do you get it straight away if you get it from 7/11 or do you wait until they mail it to you. If you raise a family and you go to the city at once does everyone need a myki?


Have you heard if the ability to top up on the bus will be removed as well? It would mean they wouldn’t have to deploy the reader/receipt printer and cash till that is currently not installed in Melbourne. (Hopefully they aren’t sitting in a warehouse!)

Another strike for passenger convenience if that is the case!

You make an argument that I’ve been making for a couple of years. Why not just have thermal printed short term tickets. The facility exists in the machines already, and it saves the whole upfront expense of producing short term smart cards (which I gather is why they are scrapping them in the first place). Added to that it seems to work fine in Perth (which uses the same station vending machines BTW) and Brisbane…

Part of the answer may be to also offer cheaper, non registered, anonimous, easily refundable myki cards. Give them say a set maximum recharge value in myki money equal to a weekly 1 and 2. Use and recharge as much as you want . When you are finished with it, either hand the ticket in and get your small deposit and remianing money back, or keep it in the drawer for next time.

Oh wait, just realised I pretty much exactly described the octopus card…

Ugh, sorry about the typo, I of course meant “Part of the answer may be to also offer cheaper, non registered, *anonymous*, easily refundable myki cards.”

Yes , of course. Not only will people who only use public transport only 3 or 4 times a year, have to buy a myki. They will also have to top it up online a week before they might have the need to use a bus. Or else walk ( don’t run ) to a train station, ( which might be 20 km away ) to top it up first.

In Vancouver, you can buy something that looks like a Lotto scratch card that is a one day, unlimited, transit pass. It has scratch off areas for every month, and the numbers 1 through 31.

You scratch off the month and day of usage, and off you go. There are drivers on the buses to show the card to, and inspectors on the Skytrain or Seabus, if necessary.

These daypasses are available in corner stores and in vending machines. They’re cheap to produce and self-regulating.

^I’m getting deja vu at Ace’s message ;)

Having anonymous myki’s be refundable is obviously a large part of the answer to this problem. The other part is blanket myki coverage. You will need to be able to purchase a myki and topup in many more places than you can currently even buy metcard if they are going to do away with short term tickets. But even that isn’t really good enough.

@Mathew, it’s not clear yet, but given the cancelling of topup capability on trams, don’t be too surprised if buses go the same way.

@Ace, you mean like this?

They’ve been tried before in Melbourne, and were not greatly successful. Ticket checks (at least on trams and trains) are too far and few between that people wouldn’t scratch them until they saw inspectors coming. And some kept a year’s supply and used them every year.

As a Sydneysider, all I can say is: surely you can’t be serious.

I’m sure they’ll come up with something, but how bizarre to have not even determined that when the announcement was made.

So the card costs 35c to produce…..

Isn’t it obvious then? Just set the fare as being equivalent to Myki Money, but advertise for all short term tickets that there is a 35c supplement to be paid, and then charge the total price accordingly.

Therefore, the government isn’t losing money on these passengers, and it becomes clear to the passengers why they are paying extra compared to others.

They are not aiming to save money on the cost of the disposable myki tickets. They are aiming to save a lot of the vast ongoing servicing and maintenance expenditure on cash-handling machines.

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