Free Phones – so why not free Myki Cards?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

My room at the Hotel Icon in Hong Kong a few days ago featured an in-room printer, ideal for when you need to print off boarding passes or other paperwork. And a free minibar, now that’s a nice touch.

IMG_8375 - Hotel Icon free phone - 270◄ And, best of all, a free mobile phone. When you check in you get your own smart phone to use while you’re staying at the hotel. It included free local calls, free international calls back to your home country, free internet, emails, Google maps and so on. Perfect! Using your own phone overseas and encountering sky high data charges can be a big problem for unwary travellers. Even for wary travellers when you simply have to download data. The Hotel Icon phone only works while you’re checked in at the hotel, when you’re departing you tap to disconnect and delete all your information, phone numbers and usage information.

Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought back home in Melbourne, Australia, if hotels here could offer free Myki cards. Myki is the Melbourne public transport card system that works on trains, trams and buses. It works fine, but for visitors from overseas or from elsewhere in Australia it must qualify as the world’s most visitor unfriendly travel card. Lots of other countries have public transport travel cards, but in Melbourne there’s no way of avoiding it (you cannot buy a simple single ticket, if you want to travel you must get a card) and the card is non-refundable.

So why don’t Melbourne hotels give all their guests a free card? The guests can then put money on for any travel they do and hand the card back to the hotel when they check out. If they have any cash left on the card, well that’s a nice little free gift to the next user. If they neglect to hand it back, well it’s only cost the hotel $6.

Myki Cards - 270◄ These six Myki cards are not my whole collection, I’ve got a bunch of them to give to house guests staying with us. On more than one occasion we’ve gone out somewhere without using public transport (walking, car, taxi), but then decided to return by public transport, only to find our guests haven’t got their Myki cards with them. Result? I buy them more Myki cards. No wonder it’s just been revealed that in Melbourne, according to The Age newspaper, ‘there are 10 myki cards in circulation for every weekday public transport user, with the massive over subscription blamed on a lack of short-term tickets.’