Improving the Myki Experience

By Mariela Schultz

Myki is the smart-card ticketing system used for public transport throughout Victoria. Since it’s launch in 2009, Myki has become the cause for much contention amongst the Victorian public due to problems within the system and subsequently received much negative publicity. As part of our Experience Design course at Tractor Design School, we were tasked with finding a solution to some of the pain points that travellers face daily when interacting with Myki. This involved an in-depth investigation into the ways in which PTV customers use and interact with the system, in order to discover where the experience fell short and subsequently created a negative experience.


We begun by conducting a territory mapping exercise in order to bring these issues to light. This involved categorising all the people, places, products and processes that interact with the public transport system, as well as the performance of the system itself. Already it was becoming apparent that the products and processes (namely the manual and slow top-up and balance check processes) were the areas which were causing travellers most frustration.

The next step was to brainstorm possible solutions to these problems. 
A Myki app and contactless payment both came up as solutions. 
We then examined the strengths of other public transport ticketing 
systems both at home and abroad. Strengths of the Oyster system in 
London include contactless touch-on using bank cards and smartphones enabled with Apple Pay. Opal in Sydney provides a simple-to-use app which allows users the ability to top up their smart-card within an hour. Armed with this information, I made assumptions about the Myki user experience issues in order to formulate a series of questions which I could survey the public about.

I was also interested in the ways in which users were interacting with the Myki vending machines, since almost every respondent said that they only used this method to top-up. After observing users topping up over the course of an afternoon, it became apparent that the process of topping up a card is slow, at best.

At worst, it is a confusing process which left the user guessing as to whether or not their payment had been completed. Myki vending machines display several different processing message screens before the transaction is completed. As a result, many users abandoned the process before their transaction was complete. One simple way to fix this might be to replace 
the turning arrow symbol with a progress bar.

Myki vending machine: Various processing screens with little variation


As a class we compiled all our research data onto boards to create affinity maps: groups of quantitative and qualitative data which express problems with the public transport experience. From these groups, we were able to develop insight statements which expressed problems and suggested actions for improvement.


  • Tram and bus travellers do not have a quick and easy way to check 
    their balance before boarding and touching-on their Myki: There 
    are little to no vending machines placed outside of the CBD. The 
    PTV website is unresponsive on mobile devices, and balances take 
    up to 24 hours to update online, which renders the option useless 
    if topping-up at the last minute.
  • Once on board, travellers have no way of topping up their Myki unless using a bus service.
  • Topping up online process takes 24 hours to update, dissuading travellers from using the service.
  • Myki vending machines therefore become the primary top-up choice. 
    The process of topping-up can take up to almost a minute for credit/
    debit card payments.
  • In peak hour, queuing to top-up may result in the traveller to miss their service, causing added stress and frustration.


Taking these problems into consideration, I was able to develop user personas to represent Myki customers experiencing these problems. These included a ‘few-times-a-week’ traveller, who may find it hard to keep track 
of their balance. An every-day traveller, who uses Myki money to top-up as they go. A tourist traveller, who is unfamiliar with the benefits available to them.

A ‘few times-a-week’ Myki traveller
‘Every-day’ Myki traveller
‘Tourist’ Myki traveller

Through a class brainstorming session, we developed an empathy map for our user personas outlining their thoughts and feelings while interacting with Myki and the public transport system.

Empathy Map

Journey Map

With a solid understanding of the Myki customer and the problems that they face, I was able to develop a user journey map representing a general traveller’s interactions with the system; displaying touch-points, pain-points, thoughts and feelings of the traveller and opportunities for Myki to improve their service experience. I chose to take an illustrative approach to display this journey, using the rhino character from Yarra Trams past safety campaigns as inspiration for the main character.

Customer Journey Map: Part One
Customer Journey Map: Part Two


Through brainstorming appropriate solutions, I chose to develop a Myki app which would solve several of the experience issues. I applied the MoSCoW method as a way to prioritise features of the app. (Must have, Should have, Could have, Would like).


First I developed a paper prototype and digitised it through POP App to work out basic interactions and receive initial peer feedback. Once suggested changes had been applied, final wireframes were built. Below is a map showing the user flow through the app.

User Flow Map


The next stage was to develop a high-fidelity prototype of the app, which would be used for user testing.

User Testing

Through user testing, I was able to see which parts of the app promoted a good user experience and which needed work.

User Test 1


Welcome screen : Swipe for Digital Myki’s
Example of an Adult Digital Myki
‘Home’ screen: highlighting status bar
‘Top-Up’ screen
‘Manage Account’ screen
‘Where Am I?’ screen

Final iterations were made based on user feedback. The final app features:

  • A digital card feature, which allows users to touch-on with their smartphone and without having to sign into the app. It will also display their name, balance, type of card and the touched-on status of the card.
    The app also includes a digital PTV Concession Card feature for concession card holders, negating the need for a separate physical card. It displays the validity of the card, the type of concession and user information.
  • The ability to top-up instantly through the app using credit card, PayPal or saved credit card details. This will dramatically reduce queues at Myki vending machines and provide users the ability to top-up once on board.
  • The ability to check Myki balance quickly and easily. Digital card feature displays up to date balance, and status bar on home screen. Myki balance displays as amber colour when low.
  • ‘Where Am I?’ feature allows the user to see where they are at any given point and provide more personalised guidance to their chosen journey.
  • PTV app features are included in the Myki app with similar appearance for maximum usability for users of the current PTV app.
  • Walkthroughs provided upon first use to guide user through features of the app.


All of these features are designed to further streamline and integrate the Myki experience into a travellers daily routine, and will hopefully help to mend the relationship between Myki and Victorians.

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