It may be one of the most troubled IT projects in the state's history, but more than eight months after it became Melbourne’s only public transport ticket there have been more myki smartcards sold in Victoria than there are Victorians.
Figures released in Public Transport Victoria’s (PTV) latest annual report reveal that even though 16 percent of Melbourne bus passengers refuse to pay for their ride, take-up of the state government’s electronic ticketing system has been widespread.
More than 5.7 million myki cards had been issued to customers as of June 2013, which is a touch over the 5.68 million Victorians the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded as living in the state at its last count.
However, the figures don't account for lost and replaced cards as well as short term visitor packages. The report shows that only 1.1 million cards are being used once a week or more. They account for an average of 6 million touch-ons every seven days.
On 29 December last year the paper-based Metcard system was completely decommissioned and myki became the only option for commuters in metropolitan Melbourne.
In regional Victoria short-term tickets were phased out on buses in April and the inter-city V/line rail service began the switch on a line-by-line basis in June.
Overall construction of the system is expected to continue until the middle of 2017. Over $150 million was still budgeted to be spent when the 2013-14 budget papers were handed down in May. In an operational sense, myki costs roughly $27 million a year for PTV to run.
The electronic ticketing system came precariously close to being cancelled when the Victorian coalition won government in late 2010, but the incoming administration decided it would be more expensive to start again from scratch than it would be to simply renegotiate the existing contract.
A report released one year later showed it was at least $350 million over budget and four years behind schedule, having originally been given a two-year window for roll-out - less than half the time it had taken similar networks to be built in other cities.