Myki Q+A: Straight answers to your questions

November 18th, 2009 (Melbourne metro)

Myki ticket

Updated March 2014

Now that almost all public transport users have to use the overdue and overpriced Myki system, people need simple answers to basic questions about the new arrangements. This web page is an effort to explain in a straightforward way how the Myki system works, and answer the many questions we’ve been getting about it.

Where can I get a Myki?

Cards can be obtained online or by phone (1800 800 007 6am – midnight daily). You can also get them from Myki Card Vending Machines, which are located at railway stations, some tram platform stops, and some major bus interchanges, from staff at Premium (staffed) stations, or from the PTV Hubs at Southern Cross station and 750 Collins Street, Docklands.

Mykis can also be purchased at many metropolitan retail outlets and some country retail outlets, particularly, but not exclusively, 7-Eleven stores, as well as some Australia Post outlets in major regional centres. See here to get the location details of retailers selling Myki.

Cards can also be bought from most bus drivers in metropolitan Melbourne (except pre-pay-only services such as the 401 and 601 university shuttles), and from bus drivers on the regional city bus networks which use Myki.

Note that only full-fare Mykis can be purchased from Myki vending machines. Concession, child and seniors Mykis must be bought from the other outlets listed above.

How much does getting a Myki card cost?

The cost of a card is $6 full fare, or $3 concession. The purchase price is not refundable. Sunday Pass holders (such as Seniors) were originally sent a Myki by the government to replace the Sunday Pass, but people now becoming eligible for a free Seniors Myki should apply for one as part of their application for a Seniors Card.

Note that Myki Card Vending Machines only dispense full-fare cards. Concession, child and Seniors cards can be obtained from staffed railway stations, retail outlets, or online. Seniors Cards obtained from these outlets are not free and cost $3. More information on where to get a Myki card.

Where can I add money to my Myki?

You can top up your Myki at all the places listed in the previous section, except for the regional Australia Post shops selling Myki, which only provide cards pre-loaded with some credit.

Mykis can also be topped up by bus drivers (minimum amount $1.00, maximum amount $20).

Why can’t I get a short-term ticket?

Short term ticketA short-term ticket (pictured) was going to be available if you didn’t have a Myki, but for reasons never clearly explained, the state government decided that short-term tickets would not be introduced in Melbourne.

With no short-term alternative, anyone wanting to use public transport in Melbourne must have a reusable Myki card with sufficient credit loaded on it, even if they only travel every now and again.

This ridiculous decision is already having adverse effects. The PTUA  receives regular complaints about the difficulty occasional travellers have in trying to get or use a ticket.

Even regular public transport users are striking problems. If they forget to have their Myki with them they must buy another one and put money on it. If a Myki becomes defective, unless they can get to a staffed railway station, people have to wait for up to ten business days for a new Myki to be issued to them. In order to travel in the meantime they too must buy another card and put money on it.

The convenience of short-term tickets is obvious. Until their abolition on major regional city bus networks in mid April 2013, up to sixty percent of passengers were using them as part of the Myki system. No substitute for them was provided, despite the government telling us that it was “investigating options”.

Can Myki be used to track my movements?

You can choose to register your Myki, or not, as you wish.

It is possible to get a card completely anonymously from Myki vending machines or over the counter. Unregistered cards get access to the same fares.

If you register your card you are protected against theft or the loss of the card, because you can report the loss, have your Myki deactivated, and have the remaining credit balance transferred to a new card. You can also set a registered card to be topped up automatically with money from your bank account.

Public Transport Victoria (PTV) has published a privacy policy which goes into some detail about when they might provide someone’s travel data to authorities. You can read it here.

How does Myki Money work?

Note: Most fares increased by about 2.4% on 1 January 2014. However the Weekend Saver daily cap has almost doubled to $6.

You buy a re-usable Myki card and load credit onto it. As you travel you touch on and touch off, and the system will debit your Myki card as you go. Melbourne metropolitan fares are shown in the following table. Regional fares differ from this. For full details of fares see the relevant page of the PTV web site.

Zones 1 2 1 and 2
2-hour $3.58 $2.48 $6.06
Daily $7.16 $4.96 $12.12

Concession fares are 50% of the above prices. Discounts (e.g. Earlybird free travel on trains before 7 a.m.*; Weekend Daily Saver $6.00, no concession) apply to Myki Money. The 2-hour period starts from the next full hour after you first touch on. After 6 p.m., the 2-hour fare applies until the end of the day (3 a.m.).

A “daily cap” applies: if you make multiple trips in one day, the system charges you a maximum of two 2-hour segments, e.g. the Daily fare.

If your travel is eligible for the Weekend Saver daily fare (Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays), then Myki charges you a maximum of $6.00 per day. If you’re a Senior, the normal daily cap is $3.90, but on weekends, Seniors receive free travel for trips entirely within one or two consecutive zones (including within Zones 1 and 2), and on regional town bus services. Note that even though they are not charged under those circumstances, Seniors are still required to touch on and off.

*Under Earlybird there is actually a 15-minute grace period to allow for late trains, so Myki gives you free travel on trains if you touch on and touch off by 7:15 a.m.

How does Myki Pass work?

Note: Fares increased by 2.4% on 1 January 2014.

Myki Pass is what was formerly called a periodical ticket. You buy the normal Myki card and then choose to add credit to turn it into a periodical “pass” for your chosen period — for 7 days, or anything from 28 to 365 days — for the zone or zones you want. Note that these are consecutive days, not related to calendar months.

So the price for a monthly Pass is based on a particular number of days, not on a calendar month (where the number of days varies). Current Melbourne metropolitan fares are shown in the following table. Regional fares differ from this. For full details of fares see the relevant page of the PTV web site.

Zones 1 2 1 and 2
7 days $35.80 $24.80 $60.60
30 days $132.00 $87.60 $204.00
365 days* $1430.00* $949.00* $2210.00*

Concession fares are 50% of the above prices. Although we’ve shown the 30 and 365 day prices above, you can buy a Pass for anything from 28 to 365 days. For full pricing details see the PTV web site, or the Myki Fares and Ticketing Manual.

*Note that you can get a discounted Yearly ticket via the PTUA Commuter Club,  which provides more than a 9% discount on the retail price of a 365-day Myki Pass shown above. Commuter Club Mykis are specially-coded Myki cards which are provided free with the discounted Yearly fare.

Can I combine Myki Pass and Myki Money?

Yes. A single Myki card can have a Myki Pass for travel in your usual zone or zones, and also have Myki Money loaded on it for occasional trips into other zones, including V/Line services.

How does Myki work on V/Line?

Myki began operating on V/Line’s so-called “commuter” services during June and July 2013 and the sale of paper tickets for those services was abandoned on Monday 24 February 2014.

Note, however, that the government has decided that Myki will not be introduced on what are now called “long-distance” railway services – those running beyond Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and Traralgon, nor will Myki be used on any V/Line buses. Those services will continue to use paper tickets only.

The Family Traveller concession still requires a paper ticket as well, regardless of your destination. Available on most V/Line services, the Family Traveller allows one adult to be accompanied free by up to two children (aged 16 years and under) during off-peak times. At all other times, one child can travel free and one child needs to have a valid ticket. See here for more detailed terms and conditions.

V/Line passengers using Myki who travel in more than two zones (and that will be most of them) need to have:

  • a Myki Pass for their entire journey and a Myki Money balance of at least $0.00; or
  • a sufficient Myki Money balance to pay for their entire journey; or
  • a Myki Pass for part of their journey and a sufficient Myki money balance to pay for any remaining part of the journey.

V/Line Myki Pass users may travel to a destination beyond the Myki ticket area by purchasing a paper ticket extending their journey. However Myki Money users cannot use such a “hybrid” ticket. If their journey partly includes a service not covered by Myki, a paper ticket must be purchased before departure which covers the entirety of the journey.

Under Myki, the concession which allows single (one-way) ticket holders one hour’s free travel in Zones 1 & 2 either side of their V/Line journey, and free Zone 1 & 2 travel all day for all other ticket types, including day return, continues to apply. Myki users must still touch on and off where required, but the Myki system will not charge anything over and above the fare already deducted. However passengers are urged to keep a close eye on their card balance to make sure the system always operates as required.

This same concession also applies to travel on the regional town bus systems on which Myki operates.

The discount fare for off-peak travel, which provides a 30% reduction over the normal fare, remains available under Myki for all services timetabled to arrive in and depart from Melbourne outside peak times.

To obtain the off-peak concession, V/Line passengers using Myki should not touch on at a station in the morning before the off-peak period commences. In the evening a 15-minute “grace period” applies. Although the off-peak period starts at 18:00 (6 p.m.), a passenger using a V/Line train can touch on after 17:45 (5:45 p.m.) and still obtain the off-peak fare.

For full pricing details see the table on page 20 of the 2013 Myki Fares and Ticketing Manual.

PTV has re-opened the former information counter near the ticket offices at the Collins Street entrance to Southern Cross, specifically to answer questions about the use of Myki on V/Line.

Can I get a refund if I no longer need the Myki Pass I purchased?

You can apply for a refund of a partly-used Myki Pass or an unused Myki Pass, as well as unused Myki Money, by completing the Myki Refund & Reimbursement form. However refunds are not available on expired Passes, and you cannot get a refund of the purchase price of a Myki ($6 or $3 concession) .

Note that you must return your Myki card with the form and so you will need to have another Myki card in order to travel, because of the government’s stupid decision not to include the planned short-term ticket in the Myki system.

The refunded amount can either be sent to you as a cheque or the unused funds can be transferred to another Myki. You can also convert Myki Pass credit to Myki Money, although an amount over $250 can only be paid by cheque.

It takes up to 10 business days for a Myki Pass to be converted to Myki Money and up to 21 business days for cheque refunds to be processed.

Can someone else use my Myki?

It is perfectly legal for other people to use your Myki, provided that it only has Myki Money loaded on it. However you are not allowed to share your card if Myki Pass is loaded on it.

Does the credit on my card expire if I haven’t used it for 90 days?

No it does not. This idea is widespread but completely false.

However, if you top up your card using the Myki web site, and do not “collect” that money onto your card (e.g. touch your card on a reader, or check the balance at a vending machine) within 90 days, the system “archives” the top-up amount (and only the top-up amount), meaning that you cannot add that money immediately to the balance on your card.

Your archived top up will be re-activated, and sent out again to readers and vending machines, when you use your card on the system again (for example, touch it at a reader, or use it at a vending machine), and you can then “collect” the archived amount onto the card.

Note however, that this reactivation process can take up to 24 hours, so if your balance is too low to allow you to travel, you will need to top up your card immediately (for instance at a vending machine) if you want to use it there and then.

Can I travel if my Myki has a negative or debit balance?

You cannot commence a journey (i.e. touch on) if your Myki has a negative balance, although you can go into negative balance during a journey. Your Myki must have a balance of at least $0.00 (i.e. not negative) for you to be able to touch on.

Note that if you break the journey during which your Myki goes into negative balance, any other touch on will be refused, even if the two-hour travel period has not expired.

It is also important to note that even though the Myki Pass on your card may be valid for travel, you cannot commence a journey using Myki Pass if the Myki Money balance on that card is negative. For your Myki Pass to be valid, your Myki Money balance must be at least $0.00.

The above advice applies if you are only travelling in one or two zones, which is the case if you are travelling in metropolitan Melbourne, or on regional city bus and rail systems. However many V/Line journeys will take you through more than two zones, and in that case the rules differ to some extent (see “How does Myki work on V/Line?” above).

How do I touch on and touch off?

Myki touch-onTouching on and touching off allows the system to know what to charge you, although touching off on trams is optional (see below).

Touch on your Myki ticket at a reader as you enter the station, or as you board the tram or bus. Touch off the ticket at a reader as you leave the station, or leave the tram or bus.

You must place the ticket flat on the reader. Don’t “swipe” it, or move it around, because the reader will take longer to respond or not read the card at all.

Generally, the card must be within about half a centimetre of the reader, but preferably touching it. It will usually work from inside a wallet, especially if the Myki ticket is in the closest pocket, but this isn’t guaranteed. It will often not work if you have other cards using similar technology (an RFID chip) in your wallet, because that confuses the reader.

One of the major unresolved problems with Myki is that response times are inconsistent and often too slow — sometimes readers respond in under a second, but too often they take a good deal longer.  This has been a problem since Myki was first switched on, and the fact that it continues five years later is not nearly good enough.

Why don’t I have to touch off on trams?

There was an obvious likelihood of congestion on trams resulting from the number of passengers trying to touch on and off at busy stops. Consequently, all tram routes were modified to be within Zone 1 (areas formerly in Zone 2 only are now within the Zone 1/2 overlap), and so you do not have to touch off on a tram if you are only travelling within Zone 1, because the default fare on trams is a Zone 1 fare only.

However if you travel on a tram entirely within in the Zone 1/2 overlap, which only occurs right at the end of routes 75, 86 and 109, you do still need to touch off before you alight to ensure that you are only charged the cheaper Zone 2 fare.

Do I really need to touch on every time?

Officially, yes. You need to touch on every time you enter a station, tram or bus to ensure your ticket is valid for travel, even if you have already touched on somewhere else for the particular journey you are undertaking.

In reality, you must touch on the first time you use a ticket for a particular journey, to set its expiry date and time. Not doing so is fare evasion.

You also need to touch on when boarding a bus, even if your ticket is already valid for that journey, so the bus driver knows you have a valid ticket, and when boarding at railway stations if your destination is a gated station, otherwise the gates at your destination may not let you out, and you may have to queue for staff assistance.

You also need to touch on and touch off if you end up travelling outside the zone(s) you have paid for on a Myki Pass, or that isn’t already paid for with Myki Money.

Do I really need to touch off every time?

Except on trams (see above), the official line is yes. If you don’t touch-off, you may get charged a default fare, which may be more than you’d otherwise pay.

The default fare is charged when the system doesn’t know where you got off the train/tram/bus, and it assumes you might have gone to the end of the line (on a tram/bus) or to the last stop of the longest line on the system (metropolitan trains).

In other words if you don’t touch-off on buses and trains the Myki system may assume you took a two-zone trip, and charge you for it. If this is the correct fare anyway (for instance you’ve travelled on a train from the CBD to a Zone 2 station) then you will not be charged anything extra if you do not touch-off, and may choose not to bother.

As noted above, you still need to touch on and off if you are travelling on a tram entirely within the Zone 1/2 overlap, if you want to pay the cheaper Zone 2 fare.

The default fare does not apply to Myki Pass if you touched on (started your journey) in your nominated zone. In other words, if you have a weekly/monthly/yearly Pass on your Myki card, there is no need to touch off when travelling in the zone(s) covered by the Pass.

The government says it gets more useful statistics about passenger use if people touch on and touch off every time. However they supposedly got some useful statistics with the old Metcard system, and also through manual surveys, yet that hasn’t stopped services getting very crowded due to a lack of forward planning and investment over the past few years.

Why does the information displayed on the reader vanish too quickly for me to read it?

The information showing your card balance, and the amount deducted for your journey, will be displayed for as long as you hold your card to the reader, so hold it up for longer if you want to check that information.

You can also use a Myki Card Vending Machine or Myki Check (blue) machine to find out the status of your card.

I’ve heard that a Myki card has an expiry date.

The validity of a Myki card expires four years after purchase, although the expiry date is not shown on the card itself. Note that the expiry date is set when the card is first loaded with credit, so if you buy a pre-loaded card that has been lying around for a while before you bought it, the expiry date may be a lot less than four years away.

You can find out when your card expires by checking it on a Myki Card Vending Machine or blue Myki Check machine. These are situated at railway stations, some tram platform stops, and some major bus interchanges. You can also find out a card’s expiry date by ringing 1800 800 007 and quoting the card number.

If you have registered your Myki you can find out the expiry date by logging on to your account via the PTV website. People who have registered their Myki will be contacted by PTV before the expiry date, but so far that warning has come only a few days before the expiry is due to occur.

When your Myki expires you can now go to any staffed railway station and get a free replacement card, and the balance on your old card will be transferred to the new one. If your Myki has a negative balance, you will have to top up to a positive balance as part of the replacement process.

If your expired Myki is registered, the replacement card will also be automatically registered. However, if you had auto top up linked to your expired Myki you will have to set up auto top up again for the new one.

Do I get charged for another 2-hours if I touch off after the expiry time?

No. Your Myki ticket is valid as long as you touch on at a station, or board the tram or bus, before the expiry time.

I heard weekly/monthly/yearly Passes aren’t valid on weekends.

That is not true. They are valid on weekends, but only in the zones you’ve paid for.

A single-zone weekly/monthly/yearly Metcard used to be valid in both Melbourne zones on Saturdays and Sundays. That benefit has been withdrawn under Myki. The government argues that is necessary in order to be consistent with regional areas, and yet no regional area has the $6.00 weekend daily fare cap which is available in Melbourne.

The result is that Myki Pass users must pay extra if they travel into another zone. But their total fare will attract the $6.00 weekend/public holiday cap, and what has already been paid towards that is taken into account.

Does Myki Money always give me the best fare?

Provided everything works correctly, it does give you the best daily fare, by charging you the cheapest possible fare for each trip, and upgrading it automatically, for instance from a 2-hour Zone 1, to a Daily Zone 1+2 — whatever is cheapest for your day’s travel.

But if you use it every day, the system does not upgrade you to a 7-day Pass or a 30-day Pass etc. if that is cheaper. Myki Pass must be pre-loaded to attract the cheaper periodical fare.

I heard you have to pay extra if the train is late.

No, not on trains, but you may be affected if you want to make use of the 2-hour fare and you catch trams and buses.

Under Myki, your ticket is valid as long as you start your trip (that is, touch on at the station, or as you board the tram or bus) before the 2-hour travel time expires.

Under the former Metcard ticketing system, if your service was delayed or cancelled, you could still make your trip without further charge, even if it meant boarding after the 2-hour expiry time. That benefit has been removed under Myki. However it is only a problem when using trams and buses, because you can only touch on as you board. When using trains you will have already entered the platform and touched on before the expiry time, no matter how late the train you are catching might be.

If you are going to travel for more than 2 hours it makes no difference to you, but if you are trying to make a couple of short trips using a bus or tram in a single 2-hour period, with no other travel that day, you will be charged the daily fare if the bus or tram arrives late, after your 2-hours has expired.

What’s the use of compensation being paid as Myki Money, when I have a Myki Pass?

When Yarra Trams or Metro Trains miss their monthly performance target, you can claim compensation if you travelled for 10 or more days with a Pass that is for 28 days or longer. Annoyingly, receiving compensation is a manual process, involving filling in a form and posting it.

Rather than extending the duration of the Pass, compensation is paid as the Myki Money equivalent of the zones covered by the Pass.

There are several ways to make use of the Myki Money compensation:

  • Use it after your Pass expires. Note, however, that if you have another Pass loaded on your card, the Myki system will always use that first if it is valid for your trip.
  • Use it for travel in other zones, including V/Line journeys.
  • Request that the compensation amount is added to a different Myki card, such as a family member’s card, or a second card that you use. This option is on the form.
  • Pay for your next Myki Pass using Myki Money. This is done by putting enough Myki Money on your card to pay for the Pass, then choosing the option on vending machine to buy a Pass with Myki Money. Unfortunately this option appears to only be available from vending machines.

Is Myki switching us to distance-based fares?

No. The current zone system is being retained.

Hong Kong and Singapore and some other cities use fares based on how many kilometres you travel. Myki does not include this change and fares remain almost identical to those under Metcard, based on the zones (which will now spread across Victoria) and duration (2-hour, daily, etc.) of travel.

The PTUA believes that distance-based charging has a number of disadvantages — it may lead to higher fares, and it is quite confusing, because you might not know how much you’ll be charged before you travel.

How do inspectors and V/Line conductors check tickets?

There is little information printed on the Myki card itself, and no obvious way of telling whether you have validated correctly or not. Authorised Officers (inspectors) and V/Line conductors use hand-held devices that can read the cards.

Has Myki slowed things down?

Yes, in some situations.

Station exits during the evening peak have become congested as train-loads of people queue to touch off. The unacceptably slow and inconsistent response times of the card readers do not help in this regard. To ease the problem, more readers have been added at stations, and new or widened station exits provided.

Buses should benefit from faster boarding times but Myki readers on buses are notorious for their slow and inconsistent response times.

The government’s decision not to allow single-use tickets to be purchased might have speeded-up bus operations, but that is at the expense of occasional users who do not have a Myki, or passengers who have forgotten to have their Myki with them.

Touching off has been made optional on trams, to avoid delays (see above). Whether delays occur depends to as great extent on how quickly the readers respond, and how many there are. It is worth noting that London’s buses and trams were both switched to a flat fare system, requiring no touch-off, because delays during disembarking were causing problems.

Does Myki work properly?

Virtually every aspect of Myki’s introduction has been poorly handled. The PTUA has flagged a number of design and implementation problems with Myki that need fixing, and we are continuing to give feedback to Public Transport Victoria.

The biggest drawback with the Myki system is the state government’s unexplained decision not to make single-use tickets available, meaning that every public transport user must have a Myki card, loaded with sufficient credit, to be able to travel. This makes things extremely difficult for tourists, for new and occasional public transport users, or for passengers who have problems with their Myki, and it will be a further source of fare evasion.

As noted above, the other major and persistent problem with the operation of Myki is that response times of card readers are inconsistent and often too slow — sometimes they respond in under a second, but very often they take a good deal longer. That is unacceptable, and it has been allowed to continue for far too long.

As soon as Myki began operating, the PTUA asked that different sounds be introduced for a touch on and a touch off. Instead of that, we got the totally unnecessary introduction of a double beep for concession passengers.

Opportunities for buying and topping up cards are still too limited, especially for tram and bus users.

There have been a number of instances of people mistakenly “touching on” at blue Myki Check machines, rather than the proper Myki card readers, and then being fined for not having touched on. We have asked PTV to make changes to the relevant hardware and software which will make this less likely to occur.

Watch the system very carefully to ensure you’re being charged correctly. Keep a close eye on the Myki readers as you use them, check your transactions on the Myki Check machines (the blue machines in stations and some trams stops) at vending machines and/or via the Myki web site, and ring 1800 800 007 or contact Myki online if you suspect you have been overcharged.

Was it worth the money?

Probably not. Although the Myki system brings some benefits, including better access to cheap fares, these are eclipsed by the enormous cost of the system.

Few passengers wanted a new ticket system, and the PTUA argued that for a fraction of the cost, either the Metcard system could have been updated, or a cheaper Smartcard system bought from elsewhere. The money saved could have been spent on more staff, trains, trams and buses. But the change has happened, so we’re providing feedback to Public Transport Victoria to try and improve the outcome for passengers.

Does the PTUA’s Commuter Club discounted Yearly ticket scheme continue under Myki?

Yes — PTUA members who are regular public transport users can buy discounted Yearly tickets, at about 9% off the retail price, and that includes a free Myki card. You can see full details of the offer here. Commuter Club is also available via some employers.

Note that Commuter Club is only a metropolitan program. Even though Myki is being introduced on V/Line commuter services, there is no plan to extend Commuter Club availability beyond the metropolitan area. Regional passengers can purchase a yearly Myki Pass at a heavily discounted rate, which includes up to 40 days free travel when a 365-day Pass is purchased.

I have unused Metcards. What should I do with them?

PTV ceased its Metcard refund and transfer to Myki service on 30 June 2013, so if you still have unused Metcards you will have put them in the recycle bin, keep them as souvenirs, or perhaps try to sell them if they are unusual in some way.

Further questions?

PTV Hub, Southern CrossEmail office at ptua.org.au with your questions. We’ll endeavour to find out the answers and post them back here.

If you want to read all the fine print yourself, it’s contained in the Myki Fares and Ticketing Manual (myki) and its supplements. Be warned, the Manual is over 100 pages long.

Public Transport Victoria has posted some useful information on its web site, which you can read here.

You can ring PTV for information, on 1800 800 007 (6 a.m. – midnight daily).

You can also go to a PTV Hub to get assistance. There is one near the Collins Street entrance of Southern Cross Station (pictured). There is another Hub on the ground floor of the PTV headquarters building at 750 Collins Street, Docklands, about 500 metres from Southern Cross station. That Hub can perform more operations than the one at Southern Cross. For example the Collins Street Hub includes the Pass Office, which issues the various forms of free travel passes which are available on the public transport network.

What is the PTUA anyway?

Founded in 1976, the Public Transport Users Association is the recognised consumer organisation representing passengers of all forms of public transport.

We are a non-profit, voluntary organisation, with no political affiliations. If you want to help support our work, please join us. You get five newsletters per year, as well as access to cheap Yearly tickets, and you’ll be helping the campaign for better public transport in Melbourne and around Victoria.