Over the years there have been various problems with the Myki ticketing system. Some have been self-inflicted, such as the lack of a single use ticket, which was the result of a Coalition decision in 2011. Others are down to poor implementation, such as the slow and inconsistent read times for cards, or the difficulty that trams and buses have in detecting which of Melbourne’s two gigantic zones they are in.
Perhaps the most alarming issues are those that involve incorrect charging. There was a doozy found in 2013 where a Pass would activate early. And a few years ago a glitch emerged where if someone with a Zone 1 Myki Pass went travelling into zone 2 on the weekend, the system would pay them 2 cents for doing so. At the time, the Transport Ticketing Authority tried to claim it was a result of the system working as it should to calculate the correct fare, but admitted it may appear to be a quirky outcome.
A new issue has emerged since the zone changes on 1st of January. Uncovered by dedicated Myki user “TheMykiUser“, under some circumstances, the system will credit you $1.52 in Myki Money.
I replicated it myself on Sunday. It would seem the circumstances are:
- You need to have a zone 1-only Myki Pass
- It needs to be a public holiday or weekend — this doesn’t happen on a regular weekday when the $6 cap doesn’t apply
- You need to travel in zone 2 on two separate occasions (eg in two separate 2-hour blocks) on the same day — this could be for instance travelling into zone 2, then travelling back, provided you touch-on to come back more than 2-hours after you first touched-on
Somehow the combination of a day’s travel in zone 2, but having already paid for zone 1, with the weekend/public holiday $6 cap applying means the system will decide that rather than charge you an additional amount it will credit you for $1.52.
Why does it do it?
Note that $1.52 is the same amount of the weekday zone 1+2 daily fare $7.52, minus the weekend/public holiday $6 cap, so it’s assumed these are factors.
Those who have bigger brains than I may like to try and interpret this text in the 2015 Fares And Ticketing Manual, which documents Myki’s business rules:
Where a product already exists on a customer’s myki (a 2 hour product, Daily product or a myki pass) that is valid for a zone(s) and the customer makes a journey that consists of, or includes, travel in a zone(s) for which the existing product is not valid, the fare for the journey is the 2 hour fare for all zones for which the existing product is valid combined with the zone(s) for which the existing product is not valid minus the 2 hour fare for all zones for which the existing product is valid.
I’m recognising the individual words, but translating it into an equation where it pays you $1.52 is a bit beyond me at present.
And what’s staggering is that nowhere in the fare calculation logic did they include a sanity check that says: Is the final fare less than zero? If so, set it to zero, because it doesn’t make sense to have a negative fare.
If they want Myki to work smoothly, they should stop messing with the fare structure
This issue has occurred since the zone changes on 1st of January.
After all the problems Myki has had, the politicians should know better than to mess with the ticketing system like this, but having come up with the clumsy plan to cut prices by removing two-zone fares, the boffins at PTV and their contractors had to find a way to implement it.
I had assumed they would expand zone 1 to cover all of zone 2 as well (thus making a huge overlap area, but reflecting how they changed the tram zones in 2010), but they seem to have implemented it in a different way, which probably explains why they no longer sell a Zone 1 Pass — instead they sell a Zone 1+2 Pass (at the price of a zone 1-only Pass), or a slightly cheaper Zone 2-only Pass. I suspect this bug won’t appear using one of the new Zone 1+2 Passes.
Who knows how many thousands of people have those existing Zone 1 Passes which have this quirk. (On weekdays these correctly give free travel in zone 2.) That said, it’s probably not the kind of issue that’ll see lots of people trying to gain a $1.52 credit.
It’s not the first time a political decision has caused headaches with Myki. The removal of zone 3 in 2007 (well after Myki had started being built, but before the public rollout started) meant problems for the higher numbered regional zones, and eventually left Lara station in three zones: 2, 3 and 4. As with the latest change, they would have done better to reduce all fares rather than remove zones.
The result is, I suspect, a bug which will affect existing Zone 1-only Passes, until these have all expired, and been replaced by Zone 1+2 Passes over the next year or so.
-  All that money — $1.5 billion over ten years — paid to build and run the Myki system, and now most trips all cost the same price. Terrific.
-  Of course they also sell Passes for other regional zones. This article concentrates on Melbourne zones 1 and 2.
- TheMykiUser has also written a blog post on this issue
Update Tuesday: The Age — Myki: now it’s paying you to travel