Hardly any money on your #Myki? You can still travel – but beware of the caveats

Just a little tip — because it seems a lot of people don’t know this:

For metropolitan services, you can touch-on a Myki and travel with any balance which is non-negative, that is, zero or above.

It doesn’t matter if the card balance is less than the fare.

This means if you find yourself needing to catch a tram, with only tiny amount on your card, and nowhere to top-up (thanks to the retrograde step of removing ticket machines from trams) or a long queue, then you can still take one trip and top-up later.

(I touched-off to show how it works. You don’t normally need to touch-off trams.)

Your next touch will send the balance into negative.

You can’t touch-on again (even if you didn’t touch-off) until the balance is brought back above zero.

With a negative balance, you can’t use the remainder of the fare that started when you touched-on, because you haven’t paid for it yet.

And the rules are a bit different for V/Line, where you do need to have funds to cover your trip.

Those gotchas aside, this is useful when you find yourself without the fare you need, and nowhere convenient to top-up — as long as the card balance is zero or above.

By the way, Auto Top-up is pretty neat. A lot about Myki is stuffed, but after some false starts (particularly the one about killing the card if the payment is rejected – WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!) Auto Top-up is one of the things about it that actually works okay.

Update 7pm: The legalities

Following some feedback on this post, I checked back with the Fares and Ticketing Manual to confirm my recollection was correct — which it is:

Minimum requirements for travel

Travel in one or two zones

In order to touch on and commence travel, customers travelling in only one or two zones must have on their myki a myki money balance of at least $0.00.

If a customer’s myki has a valid myki pass or other valid product and a negative myki money balance, the myki is not valid for travel or entry to designated areas in zones for which the myki pass or other product is valid until the myki money balance has been topped up to at least $0.00.

Fares and Ticketing Manual, Page 55

The Manual is gazetted, so it is a legal document.

What’s interesting however is that the Transport (Ticketing) Regulations appear to contradict this:

A person who is travelling in a passenger vehicle must have in his or her possession a ticket that is valid for the whole of the person’s travel in that passenger vehicle.

Transport (Ticketing) Regulations 2006, Reg 6

and specifically that you’re meant to make sure your ticket is valid for travel, which includes:

to have recorded on the myki sufficient value to pay for the whole of the travel

Reg 12

Regulation 12 also lists defences to this include the usual taking all reasonable steps. So walking past a working ticket machine may not be defensible, but boarding at a tram stop with no top-up facility (and none nearby) presumably would be.

Still, consider yourself warned.

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.

9 replies on “Hardly any money on your #Myki? You can still travel – but beware of the caveats”

What about Vline services or other non-metro transport that accept Myki. Does the above still apply? Thanks

@ Roger, you may like the following link. It is of my own personal experience, where I had paid my fare but……

@ Daniel Bowen, I was going to contact you via email for this issue shortly. I am keen to know what you feel about my issue as shown in the following link.


The link takes you to flyers of which I hope to hand out one day soon. they remain as draft documents, at least until I find the money required to purchase a ream or two of A3 paper.

@tranzitjim, I tried reading your fliers, and you’re banned from using the word “whom” ever again. It’s *always* correct to say “who”. It’s only correct to use “whom” if it is an object (direct or indirect) of its relative clause. Unless you know what these words mean, don’t use “whom”.

It’s not explicit, so I’d expect sometime you’d strike an officious AO that would disagree with the interpretation. Do you feel lucky?

But I don’t think your interpretation of s12 is right. s12 of the Regulations gives various defences against being charged with an infringements of s6 – primarily to cover situations when you can’t touch on or off. Part of the defence in this circumstances is having sufficient funds on the Myki to pay for your travel. But defining a defence is not the same as defining validity.

s6(1) clearly states you must have a valid ticket to travel. The note at the foot of this section states how validity is determined: “What constitutes a ticket that is valid for travel … is specified in the conditions to which the ticket is subject. For most tickets, these are conditions determined and published in the Government Gazette under section 220D of the” Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983.

s220D of the Act gives the Secretary the power to set (determine) conditions on a passengers right to use public transport. These conditions must be gazetted. These gazetted conditions override any other contradictory conditions (s220D(4)), but if they contradict a regulation, the regulation applies as far as possible (s220D(4A)).

Chapter 1 of the Victorian Fares and Ticket Manual deals with its ‘Legal Status and Applicability’ and starts “The contents of this manual set out conditions that have been determined under section 220D(1) of the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983” (except for some minor exceptions). So this is the correct document to determine the validity of a Myki card.

Page 11 states when a Myki is valid for travel. For travel in one or two zones, it must be touched on and used in accordance with all other conditions for its use. Note if your balance is less than zero, you can’t touch on, so the Myki is, by definition, NOT valid for travel. The interpretation that you don’t require sufficient Myki money to cover your journey in one or two zones is reinforced by the inclusion of a specific requirement in this section that for trips of more than two sections you must either have a pass or sufficient Myki money. Chapter 8 gives the conditions for use of Myki and re-inforces this. Page 55 states “In order to touch on and commence travel, customers travelling in only one or two zones must have on their myki a myki money balance of at least $0.00.” Again, it does not require a balance that would cover the journey but explicitly does require this for journeys of more than two zones.

I have had Auto Top up from the time I got my MYKI (back when they were free at the time of the launch). I have never had any issues.
It is set up on the minimum (i.e. $10 top up when balance drops below $10).
I’m a Ad-Hoc / Weekend user, so not really in a position to require a “Pass”.
It’s been stress free travel (from a MYKI balance perspective) ever since.
Based on my experience, I’d highly recommend.

@Daniel trip from Southern Cross to Bacchus Marsh. zone 2 fare.

where does that money go? Who gets it?

“…”, the fare revenue sharing arrangement is notoriously complex, but from what I understand, for travel in zones 1+2 it’s roughly: 40% to Yarra Trams, 40% to Metro, 20% to the government. Obviously the government makes other additional payments to YT and Metro, and also makes payments to V/Line and the bus companies.

Importantly, there is no direct revenue sharing based on where people travel.

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