Melbourne’s Myki smart card ticketing system reportedly has failed another test. Local newspapers in the Australia city report the system was unable to adjust fares for senior cardholders automatically, forcing operators to manually adjust their accounts.

Staff at the Transport Ticketing Authority had to manually add one cent to 87,261 cards (with zero balances) so seniors could use them on Sundays, when seniors are entitled to free travel. Under the Myki system, all users, including those entitled to free rides, must have a positive balance in their card accounts.

According to a report in The Age, which quoted unnamed sources, the cost to manually adjust the cards and to resend them to cardholders was estimated at AU$2 million (US$1.66 million or 1.35 million euros).

Transit officials declined PaymentsSource’s requests for comment on the issue.

Transit operators plan to introduce the AU$1.3 billion Myki contactless smartcard ticketing system on public transport throughout the entire state of Victoria after the rollout in Melbourne.

Myki is designed to replace a number of ticket systems in Victoria, primarily the Metcard (metropolitan Melbourne) and V/Line (regional) ticketing systems. However, the system, which was delayed from its launch in 2007 to end 2009 because of a variety of issues,  is operational only on several regional buses and on Melbourne’s trains.

This is not the first time the Myki system has experienced problems. In November, the system drew criticism for overcharging customers (see story).

A month later, pilot participants in the Melbourne suburb of Geelong complained of faulty card readers and overcharging (see story).

Meanwhile, the Australian capital territory of Canberra has begun testing a smart card-ticketing system on Action buses, an official at the bus operator tells PaymentsSource.

The trial of the MyWay system, provided by Downer EDI Engineering Power Pty Ltd., will continue through August. If the system passes the test, it will be fully deployed by the end of the year, according to the official.

The agency would issue new cards with contactless microchips that support electronic wallets to replace magnetic stripe tickets, the official says. “Users will have to hold the MyWay card against the reader as they get on and off the bus, and the fare will be deducted accordingly,” he says.

Consumers may reload the card online via the BPAY online payment system, by phone or at an authorized MyWay reload agent, according to the official.

The single-use mag-stripe tickets will continue to be available for casual users and tourists, at least for the time being, the official says, noting the new US$8 million ticketing system would retain the current flat fare structure.

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