MYKI – Key to our Public Transportation Woes?

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MYKI – Not living up to expectations

So you have one smart card which you can swipe in style for every mode of public transportation (bus, tram and train) and travel in the city with suave and panache. Sounds exciting? Only it’s not when the city is Melbourne and the smart card in picture is MYKI.

Melburnians had stars in their eyes when metcards were scrapped in December 2012, however it didn’t take long for reality to dawn upon our senses. Myki cards certainly aren’t living up to our expectations and there’s no sign of improvements on the horizon as yet. The scrapping of single-use tickets, no way of buying or topping up a myki on a tram and a string of processing problems were among gripes raised during its inception.

The myki advertisements may sound very simple – Top up, touch on and touch off and you almost instantly believe that travelling in Melbourne is feather light and hassle free, until of course you actually start travelling with the myki cards. The touch on and touch off takes nearly 10 seconds each or more before the cards gets validated with a typical beep sound. While touch on shows you the starting balance on the screen, touch off shows you the remainder balance after your travel. However sometimes the myki card reader does not read the balance on your card and beeps in negative (a sound which comes from the reader when there is negative balance on your card). So unless you try touch-on for couple of times you may not know if the card reader has correctly read your card in these instances.

And nothing can salvage your travel if you have forgotten your myki card at home because as per the Public Transport Victoria myki website you go home and get it or buy another one, because there’s no facility to purchase myki cards on trams/trains or buses. So if you are one of those forgetful people, you may end up having a collection of myki cards at home lest you prefer to become a fair evader and travel without ticket, not to mention the embarrassment of being caught by the authorities and the big fine. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that our current public transportation system is not user friendly.

Myki cards also come along with an expiry date, which is 4 years from the time you purchase it. So whether or not you have utilised it during those 4 years you still have to purchase a new card, currently which costs $6 each. Not to mention the additional top-up costs. Those visiting Melbourne for just a few days feel perplexed because most of get into a tr4am, bus or train thinking they could buy tickets inside but alas! Anger, irritation and sometimes frustration are what sums up the feelings of Melburnians who avail the public transport facilities in our city.

With millions of dollars already spent on the myki ticketing system, it has become like a bone stuck in our throats. We can neither swallow it nor throw it out. While only time can unveil if the authorities better this system or succumb to their nonchalant attitude towards public inconvenience in this area. Till then travel safe folks.

By Madhumita Thakur