Hardly any money on your #Myki? You can still travel – but beware of the caveats

Just a little tip — because it seems a lot of people don’t know this:

For metropolitan services, you can touch-on a Myki and travel with any balance which is non-negative, that is, zero or above.

It doesn’t matter if the card balance is less than the fare.

This means if you find yourself needing to catch a tram, with only tiny amount on your card, and nowhere to top-up (thanks to the retrograde step of removing ticket machines from trams) or a long queue, then you can still take one trip and top-up later.


(I touched-off to show how it works. You don’t normally need to touch-off trams.)

Your next touch will send the balance into negative.

You can’t touch-on again (even if you didn’t touch-off) until the balance is brought back above zero.

With a negative balance, you can’t use the remainder of the fare that started when you touched-on, because you haven’t paid for it yet.

And the rules are a bit different for V/Line, where you do need to have funds to cover your trip.

Those gotchas aside, this is useful when you find yourself without the fare you need, and nowhere convenient to top-up — as long as the card balance is zero or above.

By the way, Auto Top-up is pretty neat. A lot about Myki is stuffed, but after some false starts (particularly the one about killing the card if the payment is rejected – WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!) Auto Top-up is one of the things about it that actually works okay.

Update 7pm: The legalities

Following some feedback on this post, I checked back with the Fares and Ticketing Manual to confirm my recollection was correct — which it is:

Minimum requirements for travel

Travel in one or two zones

In order to touch on and commence travel, customers travelling in only one or two zones must have on their myki a myki money balance of at least $0.00.


If a customer’s myki has a valid myki pass or other valid product and a negative myki money balance, the myki is not valid for travel or entry to designated areas in zones for which the myki pass or other product is valid until the myki money balance has been topped up to at least $0.00.

Fares and Ticketing Manual, Page 55

The Manual is gazetted, so it is a legal document.

What’s interesting however is that the Transport (Ticketing) Regulations appear to contradict this:

A person who is travelling in a passenger vehicle must have in his or her possession a ticket that is valid for the whole of the person’s travel in that passenger vehicle.

Transport (Ticketing) Regulations 2006, Reg 6

and specifically that you’re meant to make sure your ticket is valid for travel, which includes:

to have recorded on the myki sufficient value to pay for the whole of the travel

Reg 12

Regulation 12 also lists defences to this include the usual taking all reasonable steps. So walking past a working ticket machine may not be defensible, but boarding at a tram stop with no top-up facility (and none nearby) presumably would be.

Still, consider yourself warned.

The Ukrainian crisis – so many familiar names in East St Kilda

Hearing the news of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has an added dimension for someone who grew up in East St Kilda. Lots of street names in the area come from the Crimean War — from the British forces, names of battles (which in turn are mostly named after locations), and even Florence Nightingale is in there.

Map of the Balaclava area (from Melway/street-directory.com.au)

There’s some guesswork here, not an authorative list:

Alma Road — The Battle of Alma, 1854.

Balaclava (and Balaclava Road) — the Battle of Balaclava, 1854, near the city of Balaklava.

Blenheim Street — perhaps after the Vengeur-Class battle gun ship HMS Blenheim which served in the Crimean War.

Cardigan Street — Earl of Cardigan, who led the charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava.

Crimea Street — the Crimean War, 1853-1856.

Inkerman Street — the town of Inkerman in the Crimea.

Malakoff Street — The Battle of Malakoff, 1855.

Nightingale Street — Florence Nightingale, prominent nurse in the Crimean War.

Odessa Street — Odessa, Ukraine.

Pakington Street — Sir John Pakington, secretary of state for war in the British government, and involved in several government reports into the war.

Raglan Street — Lord Raglan, commander of British forces in the war.

Redan Street — The Battle of Great Redan, 1855.

Sebastopol Street — The Siege of Sevastopol, 1854-55.

Westbury Grove and Westbury Street — Frank Atha Westbury, who served in the Crimea before emigrating to Melbourne in 1866.

Any others people have spotted?

  • 2/7/2009: Street clusters — newspapers in Cheltenham, cities in Murrumbeena, poets in Elwood, trees in Caulfield South

A look inside the new E-class trams

Melbourne’s first new trams in years — and the first Australian-built trams in about twenty years — were officially launched yesterday, after months of testing around the network.

The first two “E-class” trams, numbered 6001 and 6002 started service. I managed to catch one for a ride at lunchtime.

As you can see from the video, the destination displays look very flickery on camera. They aren’t like that to the human eye — they’re very clear. It’s a problem with LED displays which plagues anybody trying to snap a photo or video of newer public transport vehicles and automated signage.

The tram is pretty nice inside. Low-floor trams often suffer from a lack of seating — the Combino D class trams in particular. This wasn’t too bad, with plenty of open space near the doorways, but what seemed like a reasonable number of seats along other sections of the tram. That said, it was off-peak, and everybody who wanted a seat got one. It’ll be a different story in peak hour.
E-class tram interior

E-class tram

One thing to watch for, especially if you use a wheelchair or a pram, is there is a noticeable slope in the doorway, unlike previous models of tram which are flat at that point. Not a big issue; it’s quite visible. I assume this is so the main part of the floor can be a bit higher.
E-class tram entrance

Apparently there is external CCTV to catch motorists who try and illegally overtake trams. It’s unclear how these incidents will be reported, but this is a step forward given it’s such a common and dangerous occurrence.

In all, the design looks excellent. One little niggle: the route number has been placed on the left. This doesn’t make sense in a city where at most stops, people wait for their approaching tram on the opposite side — when more than one tram arrives together, it makes it difficult to see which one is yours. On the older locally-made trams, the route number is on the right, making life easier.
Trams lined up in Swanston Street

If you want to take a ride on the new trams, they’re running on route 96 for now. If you have the Tram Tracker app, you can find them by using the tram-spotter’s feature that lets you search for a tram number: 6001 or 6002.

In all, 50 have been ordered, coming into service over the next 5 years. The older low-floor trams will cascade onto other busy routes such as the 86 and the 19 and 59… if they reach the 59, hopefully that’ll mean at last the hospital precinct has an accessible tram service — it’s been a long time coming.

Update Thursday: Some observers have noted that the acceleration of the tram from a standing start is a bit too fast, leaving some passengers wobbling around a bit; also that the gap between the tram and the platforms is larger than necessary. Here’s a snap of the latter — it does appear to be less flat and a bigger gap than, say, on Perth’s trains.

E-class tram - gap to platform

New sculpture: W-class tram

Speaking of sculpture, there’s a rather splendid new one at the corner of Spencer and Flinders Streets — a full-size replica of a W-class tram.

Tram 1040 sculpture, Melbourne

Officially titled “Raising the Rattler Pole – The Last of the Connies”, it was installed last week, and when I went by a day or two later, appeared to be getting a lot of interest from passers-by.

There’s a fair bit of (not necessarily accurate!) detail on the underside…

Tram 1040 sculpture, Melbourne

City of Melbourne has posted a video of them doing the installation:

Finally, here’s another W-class tram (not the real 1040; this is number 961) photobombing the sculpture:

Photobombing the Tram 1040 sculpture, Melbourne

The artist is David Bell — on his web site are some photos of the sculpture being built.

Apparently it lights up at night… must go past sometime after dark to take a look.

Photos from ten years ago – October 2003

Here is another in my series of old photos from when I first got a digital camera.

M>Train (which came after Bayside trains, and before Connex) had a rather nice livery and logo. Here’s a Comeng train heading towards the city on the outer stretches of the Upfield line. Myself and Peter, another PTUA bod, had gone out there to look at the spot for the proposed Campbellfield Station… still not built.
M>Train on the Upfield line (October 2003)

Daniel The Thinker. This was part of a bunch of pics I took for a possible animated web site menu I was pondering. It never happened.
The thinker (October 2003)

A screen grab from my first (I think) big media scrum for the PTUA. I think the topic was station staffing. Yes, they got my name wrong. Don’t believe everything you see on TV.
Daniel's first media frenzy (October 2003)

Sunset over the city, snapped up high in the building my day job was in at the time.
Sunset over the city (October 2003)

Do you remember when you could exit straight out of Melbourne Central, up to Swanston Street via a direct escalator, without having to navigate a maze of shops along the way? Ten years ago this month the plans to change it became public.
Melbourne Central Station main exit (October 2003)

A view from the Rialto, south over the river.
View south over the river  (October 2003)

The Flinders Street overpass over King Street, since (thankfully) demolished. Look at all that precious riverside land used for car parking. (Some of it still is, mind you.)
Kings Street overpass (October 2003)

A 3-car Hitachi train, looking the worse for wear, rolls into Murrumbeena station. I assume the lead cab was normally in the middle of a 6-car set, and years of residue off the pantographs hadn’t been cleaned off properly. Within a year or two, most Hitachi trains would be prematurely scrapped, leading to overcrowded trains as patronage leapt up.
Hitachi train at Murrumbeena (October 2003)

Vale Paul Mees, 1961-2013. A great loss.

My time on the PTUA committee only overlapped with Paul’s by about a year or so. I was newsletter editor in his final year as President. But I remembered him from my days as an “ordinary” member in the 90s, and in my time as Prez and afterwards, I encountered him regularly around the traps. There were few more passionate and articulate about public transport than he.

Paul died last night from cancer, aged just 52.

As late as last week he was still contributing to the debate, with this video that he sent along to the packed Trains Not Tollroads public meeting.

Over more than 25 years, he made a huge contribution to the transport debate in Melbourne. It must have been tough work in the 80s and 90s, when public transport was being neglected and patronage was on the decline. By the time the new century clicked around, patronage was climbing again thanks to a booming CBD and growing population — making the political sell for improved services easier.

Paul will be sorely missed.

RIP Comrade. Thoughts with Erica and family.

Motorists in pedestrian areas – is there something about No Entry they don’t understand? #RoadMorons

Some of those of us who hang around the city are truly amazed at the number of motorists who ignore the “No Entry” and turn ban signs and drive along streets they’re not meant to.

So it’s nice to know that — just occasionally — they do get pulled over by the police.

Bourke Street near Swanston Street (1/3)

Bourke Street near Swanston Street (2/3)

Bourke Street near Swanston Street (3/3)

Unfortunately others seem to get away with it scot free — and it’s unclear to me why police seem to be less keen to catch people driving through pedestrianised areas than they are to book jaywalkers.

This bloke not only ignored the No Entry signs when turning into the street, he went past multiple signs telling him to do a U-turn before this intersection, then when rightly faced with more No Entry signs, initially looked confused, then took the most-pedestrianised street (the one that even bans bicycles), the Bourke Street Mall.

Swanston St/Bourke St Mall (1/3)

Swanston St/Bourke St Mall (2/3)

Swanston St/Bourke St Mall (3/3)