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Melbourne's troubled myki ticketing system faced its first peak-hour test this morning after it was rolled out across the city's entire public transport network at the weekend.
Commuters' reactions to the smartcard were mixed in the city centre early today, with reports of myki readers on trams not working and many sceptics saying they would wait until teething problems were fixed before converting.
Others had nothing but praise for the $1.35 billion system which became valid on all forms of Melbourne public transport yesterday, three years and five months after it was meant to replace Metcard.
"I haven't had a problem with myki, I think it's a beautiful system," said Greg Mitchell from Ascot Vale, who uses myki five days a week to get to work.
"People should get off its back because it's functional, and it helps the environment."
Student Pavirsa Gohel, from St Kilda, was equally optimistic, saying he had encountered no problems when using Myki on trams, buses and trains for the past month.
"It's useful for me. I lost my Metcard lots of times but with myki, if you lose it you don't lose your money," he said.
"You can go online to recharge and I think that's a better idea. It saves your time."
But they were among a minority to praise the system, which will work alongside Metcard in Melbourne until at least next April.
Only a handful of people surveyed by The Age said they were using myki on trams in the city centre this morning.
"I hate it," said one, while another simply said: "It's s**t."
Bill Hay from North Carlton said many of the validators on board his tram this morning were not working.
"I don't use the myki card myself. I think the other system works quite well, but people have been trying to touch their myki card this morning and it's not working," he said.
"The man who did it seemed bemused. It was just that he tried four or five times, he tried the back of the card and it didn't work, then he went and sat down. He's trying to do the right think and it's not working for him."
Sanket Patel, a student from India, said his friend had encountered similar problems.
"My friend is using myki and sometimes when he tried to touch on to the system, it doesn't work properly," he said.
"When it's compulsory then I'll think of buying it. Until that time I'm right with Metcard. They need to have it working on every tram."
Dave Parker, originally from Perth, said Melbourne should have used a similar integrated ticketing system in operation in that city, which worked seamlessly.
He said he had watched many people attempting to swipe their myki cards on board trams, without success.
"They're doing it half a dozen times and getting red lights. Two weeks ago it was worse," he said.
"I know the government has spent a small fortune on it.
"Quite frankly you have wasted a lot of money, and that's taxpayers' money that could go to a better use. It's a heap of s**t. You should have done your homework."
Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen yesterday said several of his group's members using myki had encountered problems, including overcharging.
Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula said the real test for myki was not its first day, but over the next few months.
He pledged ticket inspectors would be "empathetic" in coming weeks as more tried the system.
The myki card is designed to automatically give public transport users the cheapest fare. On trains and buses, users must touch on and off. On trams, passengers will be charged a default two-hour fare of $2.94 if they do not touch off. Passengers on trams in zone 2 must touch off to get the cheapest fare.
Myki cards can be bought for $10 at http://www.myki.com.au or at Southern Cross and Flinders Street stations and the Town Hall Metshop.
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