Metcard turned off, myki a turn-off

THE Public Transport Hub in Southern Cross Station had the nervy mood of a border crossing on Saturday as a stream of new arrivals to Australia was schooled in the mandatory ways of myki. Metcard machines throughout Melbourne were turned off this weekend as myki became the only way to go on public transport.

''I just so tired,'' said Lixia Zhou, 23, who had just arrived from China and was desperate to catch a tram to a backpackers in St Kilda. She was staring forlornly at a registration form when a worker advised she simply needed to pay $14 in cash for a visitor's pack that would buy her a card and a day's travel.

''What I do when finish?'' Ms Zhou had the idea she would need to return to the hub each day for another pack, just as some countries require tourists to register at the local police station.

This poignant scene of confusion was eclipsed by the stumbling arrival of Glynn Brien, a pensioner in a panic. ''I need a senior's card!'' he shouted.

A PTV Hub worker named Norman advised there was a form to fill out.

''A form? I need it now!'' Mr Brien demanded.

''You can have it now,'' answered Norman, who then turned and said: ''See how patient we have to be?''

Also headed for St Kilda was the Herrli family from Bern in Switzerland - Madeleine, Stefan and children Malanga, Ravel and Lia.

''For us it was a bit complicated. I expected a simpler system,'' said Madeleine. ''And quite expensive.''

The frustrating thing was having to ask for advice. In Switzerland, there are diagrams that are apparently easy to follow.

A female interstate visitor simply complained: ''I'm used to Adelaide stuff.''

Two friends from Doncaster held opposing views. Suan Meng Joon gave the myki system a thumbs up. ''More convenient,'' he said.

However, his friend Kim Yeoh said he preferred the Metcard system.

''To me it's a bit complicated,'' he said. ''With Metcard you pay $3.80 and that's it. No clock in, clock out.''

At the Footscray railway station, Louise Slee laughed hopelessly when asked about myki. ''I have no idea what I'm doing with it,'' she said as she rushed onto the train. But the train was a V/Line service to Geelong - one of the few inter-urban trains that will not accept myki until next year.

On the same platform, 90-year-old Catherine Ensor asked: ''Myki? Something new is it?''

Once she realised it was the name of her little green card, she said her daughter had told her how to use it. ''She tells me everything.''

Angelique Nzabanita, 22, said she got one five months ago but it was ''terrible''. ''You touch on and forget to touch off. I lost like $30.''

There was little mercy for fare evaders on Saturday, with passengers at Footscray saying they had seen a group of uniformed men holding a myki-less man to the ground. We can't call the men ''ticket inspectors'' because there are no longer tickets for sale.

Meanwhile, Hamado Jim, 27, said if he got caught, he did not care. ''I don't have myki,'' he said. ''I don't have a job. I never pay for a ticket.''

The director of customer service at Public Transport Victoria, Alan Fedda, said: ''The first day of myki being the only ticket that can be used on Melbourne's trains, trams and buses has gone well, with no challenges reported.''

Welcome to Melbourne.

The story Metcard turned off, myki a turn-off first appeared on The Age.

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