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Geelong bus passengers who have acted as myki guinea pigs are predicting a transport "nightmare" when the new ticketing system rolls out across Melbourne.
The travel cards were introduced on Geelong buses at the end of last year and are expected to be up and running in Melbourne this month.
Factory worker Daryl Gibson, who travels from the north Geelong suburb of Norlane to the town centre each day, has thrown his "smart card" in the bin and reverted to buying daily tickets.
Mr Gibson said he had twice been overcharged when a faulty myki machine meant he couldn't 'touch off' when getting off his bus.
"I think it's absolutely crap, I've put money in it twice and then I get on in Norlane and get off in Geelong and it's all gone and I just can't afford that," he said.
There have been 10,850 admitted cases of overcharging in regional Victorian towns trialling myki, including Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat.
Mr Gibson said he had spent half-an-hour on the phone to the myki call centre and then had to wait weeks for a refund.
He predicted the introduction of myki to Melbourne would be disastrous.
“(It will be) shocking, absolutely shocking because most people are working on a budget on their railway tickets for the week. They put $50 in and it might be gone within three days and they've got to chase up and find out why it's broken down and where the money's gone,” he said.
Commuters in Geelong pay $15 for a new full-fare myki card which can be bought at post offices in the town and includes $5 credit.
The microchipped tickets, about the size and thickness of a credit card, are then placed on a myki reader when getting on a bus. The reader displays the card's credit balance.
Passengers must then place the card on one of two readers at the side door or one a the front of the bus before getting off or risk being overcharged for their trip.
For anyone who has had to dig around a bag for their wallet or purse before dragging out their train, tram or bus ticket should get used to doing it twice a trip or paying the penalty.
But only if the myki reader is working.
Geelong resident Lisa Thompson has refused to try the new tickets after witnessing the frequent breakdown of myki machines on buses.
Ms Thompson commutes to Torquay three times a week and spends two days working in Melbourne.
"My experience has been on the buses to Torquay and people usually about half the time try and use it (and) they can't actually get on the bus and the bus drivers and just get fed up and say 'go through'," she said.
"I use the normal tickets, I can't be bothered with it from what I've seen (but) I've seen them in Melbourne starting to set up and I have fear".
Myki is designed to always calculate the lowest fare for a passenger, but saving money hasn't been enough incentive for Ms Thompson who instead buys short-term two-hour or daily tickets similar to Melbourne's Metcards.
She said charging a customer the maximum fare if the card was not read twice was a "big step backwards in customer service".
Ms Thompson predicted the ticketing system would be a "nightmare" for city commuters.
‘‘I use the normal tickets, I can’t be bothered with it from what I’ve seen, it’s going to be a bit of a nightmare and I’ve seen them in Melbourne starting to set up and I have fear.’’
Already frustrated commuters, unhappy with Melbourne's cramped public transport system would be further annoyed by the myki, she said.
“I think combine that already high aggravation level with tickets that don't work, it's going to be a nightmare … there's going to be some really cranky people because there's already so much anger about the bad system and the bad servicing rate, it's just going to add to aggravation,” Ms Thompson said.
A Geelong taxi driver who catches a bus four times a week when not working said the myki machine on his bus had been broken four times in the past two weeks.
Two bus drivers, neither who wanted to be named, were divided on the tickets.
One said the system was easier for drivers and while there had been a few early hiccups was now running smoothly.
Another said the system should be scrapped, the machines had been plagued with problems and would cause havoc in Melbourne.
But not everyone in Geelong was anti-myki.
Geelong West resident John Baxter said the first myki ticket he had bought had been faulty, but after a bumpy start he had quickly adapted to the new system.
He said he regularly paid a bus driver $5 to top up his card and always made sure he scanned his tickets when getting on and off.
He rated the system nine out of ten.
"I'm quite happy with it," he said.
Brian Coughlan bought his first myki last week and said he had so far found it easy to use.
Myki spokeswoman Jean Ker Walsh said in the past three months 97 per cent of myki machines in regional Victoria had been working properly.
She blamed some teething problems in Geelong on software updates, which had temporarily meant readers were unavailable while the software was being downloaded.
Ms Ker Walsh said it would take some time for Melbourne commuters to get used to myki but she was confident the system would work on the more crowded transport network.
"We think in time people will become used to the system, they'll understand the behaviour about top up, touch on, touch off and in time I think that people will be comfortable and the change will be appreciated,” she said.
Ms Ker Walsh said the myki call centre had already employed more staff and would be able to cope with the increased number of calls when the tickets began to be used in Melbourne.
"As myki is introduced to Melbourne it is going to happen in a staged way, it's not as if everything's going to be turned on overnight and everybody will have a card immediately and so suddenly there will be a massive swamp on the system, it will be managed, its' been planned that way,” she said.
Short-term tickets will be available to buy but Ms Ker-Walsh said myki would always work out cheaper.
“I don't know anybody who wouldn't like to save money if they're travelling around the system and over a year it can amount to some considerable saving," she said.
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