SENIORS card holders in Victoria will be offered free weekend travel on public transport using myki passes from the start of next year, the Brumby government has announced.
About 400,000 people aged over 60 who already get free Sunday travel on Metcards will soon be sent complimentary myki cards, allowing them to travel free on Saturdays as well.
Channel 10's Vitorian news service has reported that the cards will arrive in the mail in the lead-up to November's state election, but Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula denied yesterday the new offer - which will cost taxpayers around $4 million each year - was an election bribe.
With 100 days to go until the election on November 27, Mr Pakula said full-fare passengers who did not yet have a myki smartcard would still have to buy theirs for $10, without any credit added to the card.
The cost of Victoria's system has blown out to $1.35 billion, amid technical problems and long delays.
Myki cards were to have been posted to seniors in January, but were held back after the government realised it had not properly prepared 87,621 of the smartcards for use.
The government spent $2 million to manually add 1 cent in value to each card and attach new letters to the mailout after former transport minister Lynne Kosky quit.
Eligibility for seniors cards in Victoria is limited to permanent residents aged over 60 who are retired, or who work fewer than 35 hours a week. The seniors card can be used to apply for a myki pass, which will be eligible for free weekend travel.
The mailout of the seniors myki cards will start next month and finish in November. The election is on November 27.
Those who do not automatically receive their myki seniors card in the mail can apply for one at any staffed train station, or from the myki website.