Myki Tips – Reducing the Touch Off Queues


Last time I offered some tips for users of the Myki Pass. This time I’ll explore the Myki concept of the Default Fare and how you can take advantage of it to reduce the Touch Off queues and help get everyone, including yourself, off the tram or bus, or out of the train station, more quickly.

Now that Metcard is being turned off at the end of the month, many more people are using the new smart card system. And this is causing all sorts of congestion, at station exits especially. There is a way to reduce this congestion but first I’ll briefly explain the fares before I talk about the Default Fare.

Myki Fares

As I described in the post about Tips for Myki Pass users, the Pass gets you days at a time. Myki Money is for casual users and provides at least 2 full hours (but less than 3) of travel at a time, in your chosen zone(s). The Daily Cap ensures you will only be charged for a maximum of 2 x 2 hour blocks per day. (See this page on the Myki website for more details.)

Myki Default Fare

The Myki system needs people to “Touch Off” at the end of each leg of their trip so it can work out the cheapest fare. If the system sees that a Myki card has not been touched off when a new trip is started, it makes assumptions about the last trip and charges a “Default fare”.

This page at the Myki website shows the default fare travellers will be charged if they do not touch off. It’s not as scary or unfair as people make out.

Clearing The Backlog

You can take advantage of the default fare system and help clear queues at station exits by not touching off when you don’t need to. Obviously this will not help at central city stations where you must touch off to open the gate. Most suburban stations, all trams and buses have the Myki readers that don’t physically prevent you passing through and this is where these tips will have their greatest affect.

Now, getting back to those assumptions the system makes about your travel. The calculated fare depends entirely on the type of vehicle on which you last travelled. According to the Default Fares page, here’s what the system will guess if you don’t touch off after travelling on:

  • Trains: You’ve travelled in both Zone 1 & 2.
  • Trams: You only travel in Zone 1 (because all of the tram network is in Zone 1 with the exception of the Vermont South line.)
  • Bus: You get on and off in the same Zone (Let’s face it, buses enjoy the scenic routes even though we want to get from A to B quickly, so no one wants to spend too long on a bus. Good to see they acknowledge this.)

Bearing these assumptions in mind you only need to touch off when the opposite is true. So here’s how to touch off when travelling on the various modes of transport in Melbourne.


If you travel in both zones you don’t have to touch off because the fare you would pay is the same as the default fare.

If you travel in only one zone you should touch off so the system only charges you for travelling in that zone.


If you travel in Zone 1 at all you do not have to touch off.

If you only travel in Zone 2 you should touch off to get the cheapest fare. (Thanks to Twitter user @kiwiguy72 for the correction!)


This is more complicated. Apparently at the moment, the default are on a bus will be a 2-hour trip in the zone in which you touched on. So that means if you only travel in one zone on a bus you shouldn’t have to touch off.

However, according to the Myki Mates who answered my questions about this, we are in a transition period during which additional equipment is being installed on buses. Once this is complete the default fare will be the zone in which the route ends. You have to think about whether your route spans one zone or two. This is probably beyond what most people can be bothered thinking about. There’s no word on when this transition period ends, though.

So for buses it’s your call although the advice would be to always touch off with buses.


By correctly not touching off you should not be charged any more that you otherwise would have and you will be helping clear tram exits quickly, and helping the whole transport system run on time and more smoothly. Doing this at busy suburban train stations during evening peak hour probably won’t help the train leave earlier but it will help reduce passenger frustration and allow them to make connecting buses and trams.  It would also be cheaper than installing more exit points which has been done at some stations, although this is not a bad thing.

Disclaimer: This information was correct on 17 December 2012 but may change at any time. Please check the for updates to the Default Fares and other Myki fare information.

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