By CAROLINE TANG
A QUICK return trip between two Melbourne train stations almost cost a Wimmera commuter more than $250.
Peter Carter of Horsham visited the city on December 19 with his family.
It was the first time he had used the myki public transport ticketing system.
He said he found it confusing and expensive.
Mr Carter advised other Wimmera people visiting Melbourne to save time and money by researching myki online before travelling.
The reusable myki smartcard became Melbourne's sole public transport ticket system on Saturday after the single-use paper-based Metcard system was decommissioned.
Myki has been plagued by cost blow-outs, a late introduction and problems with customers being overcharged.
Mr Carter bought his myki tickets after some trial and error at Jolimont train station.
"I was there with my wife and our two sons, aged 2 and 5," he said.
"There was a myki machine that dispensed tickets.
"We did what we thought was right and the first total that came up was $256 for one ticket.
"We cancelled that one. Then we put in $20 and pressed some other buttons.
"It came up as a total of $6 to buy the card, but it would not dispense any change.
"So the machine put $14 travel credit on the card, without telling us.
"We did not have a choice. We had no idea what to do."
Mr Carter said he was only using the train for the day and did not need to spend that much money.
He then found two train station employees who helped his family.
One worker helped the family buy a second myki card, while the other employee held open a train door for their pram.
"I put $10 into the machine, so we paid $6 for another card and had $4 travel credit," Mr Carter said.
"The train station worker advised me to put another couple of dollars in, so I ended up with $7 travel credit.
"We did not pay for a myki for our five-year-old; we assumed children were free."
Mr Carter and his family used their full-fare myki cards for a return trip to Flinders Street Station, one stop away.
"We would not have made the train if we had been in a rush," he said.
"If we had bought another ticket for our five-year-old, that would have been $6 for the card again, without any travel costs.
"That would have been $18 for three of us, before we had gone anywhere.
"Having to pay $6 for a card is ridiculous. We could have used a taxi."
Mr Carter encouraged people to research myki online before visiting Melbourne.
He said older people, country travellers or overseas tourists might also have trouble using myki