Andrews backs smartphone and card payments over myki

Premier Daniel Andrews has backed replacing the myki with bank cards or smartphones on trams, trains and buses, as the state government looks for a new operator for the public transport ticketing system.

With the myki card system due to expire in November, the government wants to improve the technology and has invited rival operators to bid for the new contract when the $100-million-per-year agreement runs out.

The myki contract expires in November.Credit:Scott McNaughton

Andrews said while the tender process “will be run and won”, he acknowledged that ticketing technology had evolved.

“We are very keen to see the best technology employed so that using a world-class public transport system is as easy and convenient as possible,” he said.

“Best practice is the most flexible arrangement where you use your own hand-held device to access your account.”

Public transport users in global cities such as London, Singapore and New York can pay for fares with a bank card or smartphone linked to a public transport account. Victoria’s system requires users to buy a $6 myki card before adding more money to cover the fare.

In Australia, both Adelaide and Sydney have recently adopted contactless payment systems for their transport networks.

According to the expression of interest documents, the Victorian government is seeking an integrated system that would allow users to pay for fares using contactless credit card payments or their smartphone, as well as account-based options.

Shadow public transport minister Richard Riordan said it was a “brilliant idea” to adopt a more modern ticketing system that accepted smartphone and credit card payments.

“It’s been a dog of a system since day one,” he said.

Riordan, whose electorate of Polwarth takes in the towns of Colac, Camperdown, Apollo Bay and Torquay, said the ticketing system has never been accessible for occasional transport users, such as residents from regional areas.

In 2020, government advisory body Infrastructure Victoria released a report calling on the government to reduce or remove the myki card fee, describing it as a barrier to entry. It also recommended adopting a system that allows public transport users to pay for fares using credit and debit cards.

“The current public transport ticketing contract arrangements mean that the ticketing system is relatively inflexible and costly to adjust, a potential barrier to fare reform,” the report found.

“As the Victorian Government prepares for the myki re-tender due in 2023, enhanced flexibility to allow for the development of third-party purchasing platforms, validation, barrier systems and more sophisticated ticketing and fares for public transport should be part of contract discussions.”

In 2005, the Keane Australia Micropayment Consortium – known as Kamco – was contracted to develop the myki system, which replaced the paper Metcard system under a 10-year deal worth almost $1 billion.

In 2010, Kamco was bought out by Japanese technology company NTT Data, which is seeking to extend its contract.

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