Is Myki Pass still good value?

Myki Pass may no longer be the best option for people whose travel patterns have changed. I’ve done a quick calculator to try and work it out.

If you’d told me in 2019 that I’d spend a full year not commuting to work, I wouldn’t have believed you, but here we are.

A year ago, PTV saw the writing on the wall, and granted a pause for Myki Yearly Pass holders. This was done by issuing a new card loaded with a revised Pass with the remaining number of days on it – unactivated, so it could be used when things got back to normal.

But whatever was normal has changed for a lot of people. For me long term, it’s looking like the old pattern of five days a week in the City won’t come back – it’s more likely to be 2-3 days a week. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So then: is a Pass still the best Myki fare?

Myki fares 2020-2021

Myki Money

Myki Money, the pay-as-you-go option, is charged in 2-hour fares, with a maximum of two per day.

  • Myki Money in peak is $9 per day
  • Myki Money off-peak (at this stage being trialled only until the end of April) is $6.30 per day
  • Myki Money on weekends and public holidays is capped at $6.50

Myki Pass

Myki Pass is designed for regular travellers. You pay up front for unlimited travel during a period – at a cheaper per day rate than Myki Money – so it’s good value if you use it a lot.

For everyday travellers who can afford the up-front cost, one of the cheapest options is a Commuter Club Yearly Pass. Via the PTUA, these cost $1600 (plus $50 PTUA membership).

Other options include regular Myki Pass, for 7 days, or from 28 to 365 days. (33 is a common one – starting on a Monday it covers five weeks minus the fifth weekend.)

Weekly costs for these:

  • Commuter Club $1600 = $30.68 per week
  • 33 Day Myki Pass $178.20 = $35.64 per week
  • 28 Day Myki Pass $151.20 = $37.80 per week
  • 7 Day Myki Pass = $45 per week

But a lot of people are no longer using public transport for commuting every day, and may not be using it much for other trips. So what’s better value for them?

Money vs Pass: it’s complicated

Here’s an attempted quick calculator (requires Javascript) to work out your weekly Myki Money fare, based on the number of days per week you travel at different times:

@ $9.00

@ $6.30

@ $6.50

Compare the Myki Money cost to the Pass costs above, and you start to see that a 28+ Day Pass is still better if you’re travelling 4-5 or more days per week, but may not be otherwise.

Other factors include:

  • Some people might have some of their travel each day in peak, some in off-peak. Some might also use Early Bird (free metro trains before 7:15am). And some might do all their travel on a day within one 2-hour fare.
  • Public holidays are charged at the weekend fare
  • The numbers are a bit different for Zone 2-only journeys and Concession fares, and quite different for V/Line beyond Zone 2 (which as for Concession has no Commuter Club option)
  • If you do buy a Pass in advance, you’re protected against January price rises. This was waived in 2021, but might come back next year
  • If considering a long term Pass, bear in mind Annual Leave and public holidays
  • Of course many people may not want to sink a lot of money into a long term Myki Pass
  • Myki Money has the benefit of Auto Top-up (also known as Auto Load for Mobile Myki) which you can’t do with Passes. Set and forget. It works really well.

If (like me) you’re sitting on a partly used Commuter Club Yearly from last year: check the PTV refund policy before you cash it in. They calculate what you used, then deduct the cost of that from the purchase price from PTV (which might be slightly different to what the organisation charged you). So the refund might be less than you expect.

Mine’s got 316 days left on it, so it’s been used for 49 days. If I get it refunded, I think I would get back $1579.50 – 264.60 = $1314.90. If I keep it I can have unlimited travel for $4.16 per day, or $29.13 per week. See what I mean by it being complicated?

Myki card and a train

What does all this mean?

For you to find the best deal, consider your new expected travel patterns.

For government, they should really look at extending the off-peak discount trial until at least the end of the year while people establish their new travel patterns.

And more importantly, it’s time they scrapped the Myki 7-day Pass and replaced it with a weekly cap (originally intended to be implemented), so people can be more confident they’re not going to lose out if switching to Myki Money.

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 “Is Myki Pass still good value?”

Great analysis Daniel. Yes it is more complicated now that work travel patterns have been discombobulated. Wholly agree and well worth PTV introduci g weekly mki money cap.

The other reason why Myki should move to an automatic weekly/monthly/yearly cap instead of having to pre-buy passes is that once the transition happens from myki cards to credit cards, this is how it will need to be done anyway (same as London, Sydney and other cities). So they may as well do it now and get the public used to it so that that transition goes much smoother.

Pro-tip: if you commute one way in the peak and the other in the off-peak, you can use decimals (eg 0.5 days, 2.5 days) as appropriate to calculate the correct myki money rate for comparison

It becomes a bit trickier for weekends – e.g. a 2 hour return trip each weekend (or maybe one-way with an Uber/taxi home) would need to be factored in as an extra 0.5 peak days not 0.5 weekend days

For amusement, I calculated the equivalent periodical fares for suburban journeys in 1977 from the Passenger Fares Book.

All suburban fares were zoned. There were 13 zones: 3km, 4.5, 6.5, 9, 12, 16.5, 24, 37.5, 51, 66, 81, 96, & 120. Taking Daniel’s station as an example, a full fare daily return was 70 cents (off peak was 55 cents).

Weekly $3.10 (=4.42 days), or 1.6 days free (assuming weekday only travel)
Monthly $12.40 (=17.7 days), or 2.3 days free, or .6 free days a week (assuming 20 weekdays in a monthy. By carefully timing it you might get up to 23)
Quarterly $34.30 (=49 days), or 16 days free, or 1.2 free days a week (assuming 65 weekdays in a quarter)
Half-yearly $68.60, which was exactly double a quarterly so gives the same result
Yearly $131.40 (=187.7 days), or 72.3 days free, or 1.4 days free a week (assuming 260 weekdays in a year)

So weeklies appeared to be the best value (if I’ve got my maths correct).

Actually, yearlies were even worse value than they appeared if you only travelled to work on a weekday. This was because you had a month off – usually in a block – so the actual travel days was only 240, and you only really got 52.3 free days, or 1.1 days a week.

Note that there were no half fare periodicals, so you if you travelled half fare none of the periodicals were worth it. There were special term fares for students – for a standard term between 81 and 103 days these cost $18.55 (again for the same station).

I should note that the conditions attached to the tickets were bewilderingly complex – it appears, for example, that you could travel for free on the day after a periodical ticket expired. An armchair lawyer would have fun.

I have felt for a while that passes where a big mistake with these smart travel cards.

In the past it was always difficult to reward the frequent travellers with a better rate, so that’s why they had the weekly, monthly and yearly tickets, but with the advent of better technology, it is easier to know who is a frequent user, so the goal should have been to make things simpler by capping the costs and not having the commuter go through a evaluation process on what pass best suits them.

@Andrew – you would only save 0.6 days a week on a weekly, unless you still had a traditional Saturday morning shift

It would be good if they reinstate the 1-day pass. There’s a lot of day that’s not getting used as not everyone manages to use the full 7 days. I myself feel cheated / shortchanged each time that happens.

I had similar calculations when I was debating whether or not to change from Myki Money to a Myki Pass because I was cycling a few days a week – it didn’t take much to make a weekly Myki Pass more more expensive – from memory even dropping one day a week tipped the balance in favour of Myki Money … this was about 2y ago, so it may be different now …

Comments are closed.