Using Your Phone to Pay for Public Transport in Melbourne May Be Closer Than You Think

Written for Broadsheet

Melbourne commuters could be using their phones to pay for tram, train and bus rides, with the technology to be trialled on trams later this year, the Andrews government has announced.

Myki machines – updated in 2017 – already include the technology to read smartphones, making a “tap and go” system, similar to those used in cities such as London, easy to implement.

“Last year we upgraded all myki vending machines to feature contactless payment to make it easier and quicker to top up your myki,” public transport minister Jacinta Allan said in a statement.

The trial will begin on tram routes 11, 86 or 96, according to the Herald Sun.

Premier Daniel Andrews described the change as a “logical extension” of the current system.

“Whether it’s a Fitbit or a handheld phone … the technology is becoming much more available so that you don’t need a card,” he told media. “You’ll be able to touch on and off using the devices you carry with you every single day.”

There are currently more than 15 million active mykis in circulation, but no plans to phase out the cards just yet.

“The myki system remains, myki cards will remain because … not everybody has got a smartphone,” Andrews said.

The Herald Sun also reports a new app is in the works that would reduce the current 90-minute gap between updating your myki account online and seeing the money hit your card.

Myki’s mobile usability has been a longtime headache for users. Last year software designer and developer Long Zheng launched an unofficial – and free – myki app that allows you to top up and check your transaction and commuting history on your phone. While commuters do have access to the myki website on their phones at present, there was no dedicated app to streamline the top-up process before Zheng launched Mypal in 2017.

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