A response to Russell Marks

This morning an opinion piece has appeared in The Age, the story is here:


Although I agree with some of what Russell Marks writes, I can't help but respond to some of his points.

The one potentially winning feature of the myki system - its ''smart card'' technology - should have meant this wasn't a problem, at least for people with smartphones. Picture this myki utopia: you leap onto a tram just before it pulls away from the stop and then realise you have no money on your myki card, so you simply whip out your phone, log on to the myki website and transfer credit on to the card, before touching on before the tram has even reached the next stop.

Unfortunately, myki cards aren't that ''smart''. When you transfer funds into your card via the internet, you need to wait up to three days for those funds to be available. Three days! So, we now have to be either super-organised and think three days ahead, or we'll have to incorporate the time it will take to find a ''recharge location'' into our estimated travel time.

Well, in my experience with online top-up, in some cases it's there the same day, at least on trains.  On trams and buses yes it can take a little longer.  But myki has a feature called "Auto Top-up".  If you are going to avail yourself of Online top-ups (which Russell Marks appears to be suggesting) you may as well go the whole hog and set up Auto top-up instead.

Auto top-up did have a major flaw when it came to cards being blocked due to credit cards expiring or being cancelled.  That has now been rectified.  

Perhaps the biggest problem with the myki system, however, is that users will find it almost impossible to keep track of the fares it automatically calculates when users ''touch on'' and ''touch off''. But when they ''touch off'', users are not told the amount myki is taking out of their account. They are only given the balance remaining on their account.

Um, no, Russell.  When you touch off, the myki reader does show you the amount debitedIt's there for about a second, but if you want to see it for longer just keep holding your card to the reader... it'll stay there for as long as you do.  See this video example, which if you pause it you can see the "Fare Deducted" amount which in this case is $0.00 because I was using myki pass:


Russell also talks about lack of short term ticketing, the myki card price, and various other issues with the system.  Although I agree that myki desperately needs short term ticketing, Russell would do well to remember that was a government decision.  By default, myki had a short term ticketing option built in, but it's never been turned on in Melbourne.

Myki continues to have faults problems and issues, and you will hear about them all here.  But some people need to do a bit more research or perhaps actually pay attention before putting fingers to keys.


  1. He also claims charities have to buy and issue $6 Myki cards. This is incorrect. Since last year charities have been issued with paper "day passes". This was explicitly mentioned in The Age last week. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/state-breaks-own-rule-on-paper-myki-ticket-a-second-time-20121226-2bwh1.html

    Here's a pic of one: http://www.danielbowen.com/2012/12/27/myki-paper-tickets/

    His claim of 3 days for online topup appears to reflect the time for BPay topups - if not using BPay, Myki says it occurs within about 24 hours, eg 2 of those days are a BPay issue, not a Myki issue ...though as noted, it's often quicker (I've had it work within about 2 hours, onto a bus).

    And yeah, Auto Topup, once running, is instant.

    Mr Marks also cites fare evasion. The government has always shied away from claiming Myki would cut fare evasion.

    Myki has some huge problems. It'd be nice if critics focussed on these rather than making assumptions about other "faults" which are completely unfounded.

  2. In classic Labor government dictatorial fashion, the rules were set up to be management focussed and not passenger focussed. Labor was obsessed with fare evasion: and so penalised the 90% of compliant customers. Fare evasion is not my problem: inconvenient rules and awkward travel conditions do affect my travel.
    - Fixed fee card; fixed life duration; no refund for departing visitors. Money to management, already drawing on the earnings of the stored value and the never-used value (a principle of all stored-value systems).
    - No short-term ticket.
    - No ability to buy a ticket at every boarding point. In every other form of retail, the phrase 'point of sale' applies. I want to buy a ticket on the tram, or at the tram stop, not at a 711 in the next suburb.
    - The need to touch on and off for every stage of every journey, with scanners which are very fussy. It should be possible to do this with a card, staying in a wallet staying in a pocket, or staying in a purse staying in a shopping bag. That is what happens in other stored-value transport systems.
    - Barriers and choke points, resulting in convoluted station entries and slow bus boarding: counterproductive for speed and efficiency of public transport use. This is even worse for those who hold periodical tickets; they have paid; they are not fare evaders; they have to jump through the same hoops as casual users.

    Overlay this with the smug comments from the TTA chief, and it becomes intolerable: 'It is your fault that your mykis are damaged'. 'Do things our way' (eg auto topup). I use cash top up; there will come a day when I am below credit on a tram. In USA modern systems, every system which used stored-value card ticketing has a tvm at every stop to sell cards and to provide topup facilities. In Wien, all trams carry a facility to sell short-term tickets for those who are caught out, or for whom that suffices.

    Like the author of the article, I can and do put my name to my comments: I have travelled on a lot of the world's systems as a visitor, not as a resident, and try to put myself into the shoes of those from elsewhere who try to cope with the Melbourne fare jungle, overlaying the Melbourne timetable jungle.

    Roderick B Smith

    1. Also remember Roderick that It was the Liberal government which decided not to install top machines on trams (when they have apparently already been purchased).

      Nathan Littel, @themykiuser.

  3. Since when have the credit card expiry/card block issues been resolved? We had to send a card in about a fortnight ago for this very reason... niggly issues which continue to crop up, especially for occasional users who aren't as learned or fortunate as others, are the reason pieces like this get written...

    Don't get me wrong I love my yearly pass, mostly because I never have to deal with anyone other than the PTUA who arranges it all for me. Prior to changing to my yearly pass, it was nothing but heartache & confusion... and continues to be on my hubby's & interstate parent's occasional cards. We currently have $80 worth of transferred Metcard balance somewhere in the MYKI ether, it was now you see it, now you don't :( Maybe it will show up the next time he uses his card, which could be months, in the meantime it can no longer be viewed via any means... terrific system, just terrific!

    I'll finish on a positive-ish note, I did managed to convince a complaints officer to transfer $6 of my MYKI $$$ that they had orphaned on a replaced (faulty - detected & asked to be returned by MYKI) card approx 2 years ago the other day. Although he did want me to confirm that MYKI had reimbursed another Z1/2 yearly pass before he would make the $6 transfer (something that any number of previous complaints officers had said would incur a $9 fee meaning it was a waste of time processing!), from 2+ years ago when I was using a different email account?! Good luck with confirming anything that long ago buddy...

    Hmmm, it seems like I am still experiencing MYKI angst even though I shouldn't have to & have tried to minimise my exposure to it...

    so, you know, don't give up the good fight - EVER!

    1. It was possibly about the same time... not long before xmas that the card blocking thing was FINALLY fixed. Here's the info https://www.myki.com.au/Latest-News/Remote-unblocking-improves

  4. Great response.

    Btw, can you please, please, please lose the blue background?

    1. Done :) Was thinking it needed changing anyway.

  5. Correction required:
    *you may as well set up Auto top up instead.

  6. Roderick - The Labor government did include short term ticketing in the scope. It was the current Liberal government's decision to remove it from the scope. It was also the Liberal Government's decision not to install top up machines on trams.

    If you're going to get political, get it right.

  7. I've posted a response to The Myki User here: <>

  8. Thanks for the response Russell.

    I'm not sure if you read the link above to a previous blog post of mine about online top-up, but suffice it to say, the nature of any smart card system (not just myki... all of them, Oyster, Octopus, Perth's Smartrider, Brisbane's Go Card, etc etc) will fail to offer instant topup. That's a hard plain fact. For the topup to be applied it has to be sent to a reader that the card interacts with, since the actual balance is stored on the card itself. On trams and buses this is always going to be problematic, which is why it's better to have top-up facilities available. This is happening in Melbourne on buses, but not on trams, even though all the machines have been purchased and are sitting in a warehouse somewhere never to be used. And yes, the machines would have accepted smaller denomination notes.

    I can understand your hesitance to use auto top-up. Personally I avoid direct debits at all where possible, but then I also like to avoid queues at places like the post office for paying bills, and in front of myki machines. I've used auto top-up and never had a problem but I know of people who have.

    Regarding having to check your balance and card each time you touch on and off, one of the major issues here is trust. People wouldn't need to look at their balance or see how much they are being charged if they trusted that myki was going to charge them the correct amount. Going on past experience, they have a big mountain to climb to engender the trust required. With numerous problems in the past this is something that won't go away easily for myki. I reckon it will eventually but it's taken far to long for people to be able to trust the system.

    Discussing who to blame for the lack of short term tickets and myki machines on trams, Russell is of course correct. Users don't really care who's fault it is. But I bet they'll care when November 2014 arrives, assuming it hasn't been fixed by then.

    @themykiuser is Nathan Littel, who does not work for Myki/TTA,
    Kamco, the government, Metro, Yarra Trams, any Bus Company, nor any other company involved in the field of public transport. I'm just a private citizen who doesn't own a car and lives very close to a train station and three tram routes.

    1. Thanks again Nathan --- my further response (at the bottom of the page): http://russellmarks.weebly.com/myki-user-reply.html


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