It’s 2022-23 annual report time for state government organisations, and apart from checking the patronage and fare revenue data, it’s also worth checking the Department of Planning and Transport number for how much they’re holding on Myki cards.
This year: $197.5 million. Wow.
The Age has a story here:
The myki money you could be giving the government for nothing
I checked previous years, and this has been climbing steadily for a while.
(2013 was the first year Myki was fully operational)
As I understand it, this is a net amount. Some abandoned cards are at a negative balance, and I’ve heard this could be up to about $50m. Which means the total amount held is probably much higher, closer to $250m.
The Age report says about half the money (so about $100m) is on cards not used in the past 12 months. And half of those cards (so presumably about $50m) have not used in the past four years – so it’s unlikely people will ever find/use/get refunds on that money.
Why has the total on Myki cards climbed as high as $197 million? The most likely explanation is that people (especially occasional users) often buy another card when the old one has expired – or they can’t find the card and they need to travel. This has accumulated over a decade.
I’m one of those people. I checked my Myki online account. Apart from the card I’m using, I have two others, with $6.19 and $0.50 on them. Neither have expired yet, but I don’t actually know where they are. Now I have to try to find them!
Any way you look at it, $197 million is a lot of money.
For comparison, Qantas has a major scandal due to $520 million of unredeemed flight credits. And that’s where they know exactly who owns those credits.
The government should make every effort to return unused card balances to the owners.
The four year expiry of Myki cards has no doubt contributed to this situation. They’ve recently made it possible to extend card life by two years by scanning the card at a Myki vending machine or using the PTV app, or over the counter – which should help – but not a lot of people know about it.
If the next iteration of Myki further extends card expiries, that will help. And of course the option of fare payments via bank-issued cards (including on phones) will help even more.
Want to know more about coming Myki upgrades? At the PTUA’s Annual General Meeting next week there’ll be a presentation and Q+A from the new ticketing operator. To find out how to join and attend, check the details here.