How long does it take to top-up cash onto a #Myki card? 1-2 mins? No, about 30 seconds.

One of the reactions to the news of top-ups on buses was that it would slow down buses because top-ups take too long. Some people claimed it can take well over a minute to do a top-up.

I was doubtful about this, so I tried it. I used a note and a couple of coins (as it will be on buses — cash only) and filmed it.

I make that about 30 seconds. Perhaps it would have been quicker if I was more familiar with the location of the note reader!

Of course on a bus, you’ll just hand your cash to the driver. He’ll need to stash it somewhere, and tap into his console how much you’ve put on, before you touch your card to update the balance. (This happens now in regional cities.)

Myki has a number of problems that need fixing, and the overall usability may affect the top-up times for people, but I’m not sure 30 seconds is too bad from the machines. Hopefully on-board buses it’s faster.

For comparison, buying a Metcard with cash from a vending machine also took about 30 seconds.

For more riveting Myki-related videos, check TheMykiUser’s Youtube channel — or if you prefer something a little more glossy and official, MykiMate.

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.

5 replies on “How long does it take to top-up cash onto a #Myki card? 1-2 mins? No, about 30 seconds.”

the only problem with your analysis is you are a sample size of ONE and hardly a cross-section of commuters. You are mature-aged, high income, well educated, first language English, are a public transport expert, use public transport daily and are acutely familiar with myki machines. Probably your experiment was done when you were not stressed trying to catch a train or with impatient people hovering around you wanting to top-up too.
Possibly, “1-2 minutes” is a reasonable average time to top-up given the cross-section of people who could potentially use these machines.
Or am I being too harsh on your trial???

That’s interesting. Without fail, when I top up, it takes at least five seconds for the ‘coding card’ step. I suspect this is because it’s actually printing a receipt in this time, because I use a credit card and ask for no receipt. I was wondering why it took so long for the machine to tell my card how much money was on it, when a bus reader can do it in a (still too long) one-second transmission.

@Roger – I’d be fairly confident bus drivers processing top ups dozens of times a day, every day will be able to match Daniel’s speed.

@Roger, fair comment — though I would note I am not overly familiar with topping up at machines (hence not initially going straight for the note reader), and over time people will get used to the machines (just as they struggled with Metcard at first).

Also the point was that bus driver topups shouldn’t take too long — in those cases, as Julian says, the drivers will eventually become adept at doing it, and it’s more likely to be a single note being handed over. In fact one person from Geelong commented to me that if handing over just a note, and provided the card write works first time, it takes about 15 seconds all up.

The EFTPOS and Credit Card top-ups are insanely slow. Sometimes takes up to 40 seconds between entering my PIN and the card starting to be coded in my experience. And then you have to wait for the receipt that you didn’t want to be printed…. :\

It’s not the end of the world but it can cause problems when you have a line of people topping up and the train is bearing down upon you.

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