Was myki ever great? Not really. But software designer and developer Long Zheng is trying to make the travel card a little less frustrating.

He’s created an unofficial – and free – myki app that allows you to top up and check your transaction and commuting history on your phone. While commuters do have access to the myki website on their phones, there’s no dedicated app that streamlines the top-up process.

Frustrated by the lack of mobile usability, Zheng took the task into his own hands. He created Mypal to provide a better experience for his fellow myki users, allowing them to skip the trip to the top-up machine and avoid the clunky myki site.

“I wanted to make something out of what I knew and myki is something I use daily,” Zheng says. “When I’m on my phone it’s really hard to top up through the website, so I thought I would make an app for myki users and see how it goes.”

Or, as he says on the mypal website: "I just want to make myki great again."

The app launched in early April.

“So far I haven’t had any issues with it. Everyone’s found it really handy and I’ve had about 4000 downloads so far, so I would say it’s going quite well,” Zheng says.

The app links to your official myki account, through the official website. This means any delays on the myki end (such as payment or missing cost details for some touch-offs) will cause inaccurate displays on Mypal. Push notifications to let users know when a top-up is needed would also be handy, but to add that function Zheng would need a higher level of access to commuters’ information, which raises security issues.

“The service is entirely stored on your phone, so unfortunately push notifications won’t work, because then I would need access into people’s accounts,” he explains.

The other catch is that Mypal is only available on Android phones: the app isn’t sanctioned by Apple. (Android users can download the app from Google Play.)

“I tried to get Mypal on the app store but unfortunately Apple was quite persistent at not allowing anyone except the official Public Transport Victoria to upload a myki app,” Zheng says.

Zheng has tried to contact Public Transport Victoria numerous times, but has not heard back.

According to Zheng’s calculations, topping up with Mypal takes 90 minutes to take effect – that is, for your top-up to be reflected on your account. However, in his experience, Zheng has found the top-up is reflected within 30 minutes. This is no slower than updating your myki through the official website, which can often take between 90 minutes to 24 hours to be reflected on your card.

"While it's great that developers are creating public transport apps, we cannot confirm or endorse the security of personal or financial information exchanged on external apps," PVT told Broadsheet. "We are continuing to improve how long it takes for online top up, which has reduced from 24 hours to around 90 minutes."

"We're also looking at new technology, including a mobile-friendly website to make it quicker and easier to top up, touch on and get where you need to go."

longzheng.github.io

This story was updated on May 11.