Metcard or myki?

VICTORIA’S new public transport ticketing system myki is set to completely replace the Metcard system by 2013.

According to an ABC report, trams will be operated without smartcard ticket vending machines after Metcard equipment is removed in December 2012.

The $1.35 billion myki ticketing system encountered many problems during its early days, and was even being considered for elimination in February this year.

But Transport Ticketing Authority CEO Bernie Carolan said the use of the myki system grew from six percent of all ticket validations when the system began fully operating to around 25 per cent in a little over a year.

He said currently “more than 200,000 myki cards are used each week with 110,000 of these used for regular weekday travel”.

Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) President Daniel Bowen said “myki is certainly much more reliable than it was last year”.

“It’s very clear from what our members tell us that many of the problems seen during 2010 have now been ironed out, and it’s now running relatively smoothly,” he said.

Mr Bowen said “myki is better than Metcard in some ways” as it “can be quicker, and provides better access to cheap weekend fares.”

But Metcard is more straightforward and easy to use, he also said.

International student Ong Yu Jie finds myki convenient to use.

“It’s as if I just need to top up fifty dollars in one go, and it can last me for weeks. Plus I don’t have to carry so many Metcards around,” she said.

But another student Teo Pei Yee has found it easier to return to using Metcards after giving myki a go.

When she was still using myki, she recalled being “deducted twice for tapping on and off for (her) 2-hour journey, which shouldn’t have happened”.

Mr Bowen said many of the problems that presently remain are “because of the myki system trying to co-exist with Metcard”.

Like the Metcard, myki is valid for travel on Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses. The electronic smartcard system allows users to top up and store money on myki in various ways, eliminating the hassle of carrying cash to purchase tickets.

According to the Department of Transport, myki will also reduce the need for users to think about zones and types of tickets, as it will automatically do so by calculating the best fare for a journey or series of journeys.

Mr Carolan explained that many passengers use a combination of Metcard tickets to pay the lowest possible fare when they travel, sometimes requiring up to three different Metcards to access this fare.

“All passengers need to remember (with myki) is to top up, and touch on and off when they travel and myki automatically calculates the lowest fare for their journey,” he said.

Mr Carolan also stated that full fare and concession passengers travelling with a myki on a Saturday or Sunday pay no more than the $3 weekend daily cap to travel all day across Zones 1 and 2, “saving as much as $8 on each of these days”.

When asked if public transport users should hop onto the supposedly-better myki system as soon as possible, Mr Bowen said that the PTUA “continues to recommend that most passengers make the change when their local station or bus or tram route begins to phase-out sales of Metcards, because this is when they expect there will be staff on hand to ease the transition”.

Mr Bowen added that the PTUA is hopeful of another free offer of myki cards, like that which occurred in early 2010, so that those who missed the last offer can avoid having to pay the $10 required to purchase a new myki card.

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