Myki Finally Gets Its Ticket To Ride

The Age

Thursday October 2, 2008

Clay Lucas, Transport Reporter

VICTORIA'S controversial $1.4 billion myki ticket system will make its long-overdue debut on Geelong buses in December.

Commuters will get the first chance to deliver a verdict on the much-maligned smartcard system on December 8.

But traditional paper tickets will still be available on the buses as myki is finally introduced, over schedule and over budget.

After the Geelong launch, myki will be introduced in Ballarat, Bendigo and Seymour in May.

No firm date has been set for myki's launch in Melbourne, but June 2009 is the tentative schedule.

However, the Melbourne introduction will come too late for 145 buses that have been wired for myki but will be off the road by the time the smartcard is introduced.

Myki was originally scheduled to be in place by March last year and 2100 Melbourne buses have been wired for it, but the 145 ageing buses are about to be decommissioned.

Those buses will have their myki wiring removed. The removal and re-installation of the wiring in a new bus costs $360.

State Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the need to swap the wiring in new buses was emblematic of the project, which is $350 million over budget.

"A lack of planning and waste has engulfed this entire project," Mr Mulder said. "How many buses does Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky believe will have their myki wiring ripped out before the card is working?"

A spokesman for Ms Kosky yesterday directed queries on the $1.4billion smartcard - which was budgeted at $300million in 2003 by then transport minister Peter Batchelor - to the Government's Transport Ticketing Authority.

The ticket system now will cost $850million to create and install, and will cost another $550million to run over 10years.

The Transport Ticketing Authority disputed the number of buses that would have wiring removed. Only six had been decommissioned so far, spokesman Adrian Darwent said.

But sources close to the project said this was wrong and that 34 ageing buses had already had myki wiring removed.

Another 21 will be decommissioned soon, and 70 more buses will have wiring re-moved before myki is fully introduced.

What is myki? A reusable debit card for travel on public transport that can be topped up online or at tram and train stops.

When was it supposed to start? March 1 last year.

How much will it cost?

To set up: $850m.

To run over 10 years: $550m.

How much was it meant to cost? $300m.

© 2008 The Age

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