I am obliged to Daniel Bowen of the Public Transport Users Association for clarifying this to me and others. Although as clearly as he wrote it, just as surely did we misread it.
I almost felt sorry for the boss of our Melbourne's public transport ticketing system a couple of mornings ago when he was taking calls about Myki while on the public radio. Mr Carolan certainly had a job on his hands to convince people about the truth of the 90 day, your Myki will no longer work myth. People are clearly very confused and somewhat obstinate about understanding it.
Think of you Myki card as a bank where you keep your money. You withdraw from the bank by using your Myki card on public transport. You deposit to your Myki card by topping up the balance, at a Myki machine, in a shop, over the phone or online.
If you top up your card using a machine or at a shop, your card is physically involved and at it knows the new balance immediately.
If you do it over the phone or online. You are only topping up your account, not the card itself. Next time you use the card, the new balance will be told to your card, from your account by the Myki reader or machine.
Right, so if you top up using a machine or shop, your money is there forever, or to the end of Myki, whichever comes first. I expect politicians may well want this system to outlast living memory.
Now, here is the tricky bit. If you top up online or by phone, when you next use your card, the balance will be updated, unless you don't use your card for travel for ninety days after you make the top up. After the ninety days the new balance is not immediately available for travel usage.
What happens is when you try to touch on with your card after the ninety days, cogs will whir in the background and gears will mesh while something sorts something out in the background and possibly the next day, the new balance will be available to use when you touch on with your card.
Hopefully you will have had enough money on your card already for that previous day's travel until your new balance registers on your card. Once it has registered the new balance, like a cash top up, it is there forever.
In essence, don't top up your Myki card online or by phone if you don't intend to use it for ninety days. If you do and your balance before the ninety day period was already very low, you may not be able to travel that day.
As to why this happens, well dig for yourself. I don't want to confuse the matter.
This is how the Myki brochure explains it, which is clear to me.
If you don’t use your myki and collect your top up within 90
days, your top up request will be suspended and will not
be available when you next travel. It will be reactivated and
ready to collect within 24 hours after your next touch on.
It was interesting to hear Mr Carolan to talk about an alternative to Myki. Perhaps for about $15 tourists will be able to buy a pack, which might include vouchers or discounts to attractions, perhaps a map and most certainly a Myki card. I don't think the amount of pre paid value, if any, has been decided. Too bad if they don't want the extras. They can buy a Myki card.
For everyone else, you will have to buy a Myki if you want to use public transport. As Mr Carolan said, there is no sugar coating it. People will need a Myki card.