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Myki – Is it bad to stick the boot in?

March 1, 2010

The thoughts of a bemused commuter …

Read any press in Victoria or travel on public transport and you will have a view on Myki – one that is much more likely to be negative than positive.

Apparently Myki has proven to be the most expensive smart card system for public transport implemented anywhere in the World at some $850 million and growing. That would be bad enough, but in addition, commuters don’t like it, very few people are using it, and my premise is that is just as well. You can quickly Google ‘Myki’ and find out all about the mess, the cost, the legal fights and so on. I am just a simple commuter and I for one am thankful that it hasn’t worked (so far).

The evidence would suggest that the system, with its erroneous transactions, would fail to cope had demand really taken off – as far as I can tell, it is rarely working anyway. Although normal tickets can be a problem, working with Myki is far worse, the few times I have looked into getting one (a Myki card), the train station or other location can’t give me one – the confused staff suggest trying a major station instead. If there was no alternative to Myki, imagine the problem this would present to occasional travelers, international visitors, the elderly and the infirm.

The biggest issues for me remain largely untested thanks to the epic failure of the system to date. Even with the less than 10 percent of commuters using Myki so far, I still have to wait in a ‘log-jam’ of people while the Myki innovators amongst us ‘check-off’ at Prahran station. If everyone had a Myki, it would take 10 minutes to get off the platform in peak hour – I am not exaggerating! I am also not generally a strong advocate for privacy, but does anyone really want all of their travel times and locations stored directly against their own identity – especially by a system that already seems suspect and the balance of their account shown to other commuters as the card is scanned. Has anyone asked what this ultimately means for fares and charging systems. Will the least equipped socio-economic communities be forced to pay more in the final model because they travel further and more frequently on public transport. User pays is a fine concept but surely our community wants people to adopt public transport.

Will the system ever get a return on the sheer waste of this debacle and did anyone ever really model the system and consider the resulting dynamics. Heads have rolled but it doesn’t seem to have woken anyone up to the fact that the whole idea is flawed and the technology is almost outdated before it is even implemented. Even the Government seems to have grown tired of marketing it as a good idea and gone into full siege mentality instead.

I feel guilty about sticking the boot in – after all ‘taking the Myki’ seems easy, expected and almost a universally accepted truth. Nevertheless, somehow almost a billion dollars of Victorian money has been wasted, not on improving the worsening public transport system, but on a joke, a racket, and one of the most extreme cases of negligence delivered to the people of Victoria. If the Government can’t be bothered getting it right or even promoting and explaining the system, why should I be bothered making a special effort to find a Myki, change my behaviour, allow data to be collected on my movements and spend ten minutes longer in the morning queuing just to leave a train platform. This is a story that is far from over!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Innocent Bystander permalink
    March 1, 2010 9:37 AM

    Hope you don’t mind if I correct some inaccuracies here.

    a) you can get an anonymous myki so your movements are not recorded against your identity. You then lose the security of having your card and any stored value replaced if it’s lost however.
    b) if you by a myki pass (which most regular commuters probably will) you don’t need to touch off. At all. As long as you are travelling in the zone for which your pass is valid, you won’t be charged any extra.
    c) the only place you can get a myki right now is on the website, unless you are a student where i believe you can get them from Premium Stations.

    And as for the cost over runs and the rest of the problems, well I think the judgement on those will occur on a Saturday in November.

  2. March 1, 2010 10:08 AM

    Good summary! I’ve put a link to it on our site (http://www.myki.org.au/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=205) – keep me informed of any futher myki posts!

  3. kiwiguy72 permalink
    March 1, 2010 10:14 AM

    Let me start by saying I’m not affiliated with any political party, the TTA, Kamco or anything to do with myki. I need to say that because I was accused of being so on another forum.

    I have however been using myki for nearly 2 months now, the only card issue being it failing to open the gates one time at Melbourne Central (however this is more to do with old Metcard equipment being modified to read myki cards, than myki itself). The website has definitely had its share of issues, however a major overhaul last weekend has fixed most of them.

    With regard where you can get myki from – at the moment, only from the website. It will shortly however be available from the station machines and at retailers like 7-11. Seniors myki cards will be distributed to all those who hold current seniors passes (more info on myki website). Short term tickets (similar to 2 hour Metcards), will soon be available too. Topping up your card will be available from all these places as well (its already available from some).

    Your early adopters at Prahran station are most likely using myki money, which requires you to touch off each time in order to calculate the best fare. Most regular commuters however will use myki pass (like weekly, monthly, yearly Metcards), which don’t require touching off (similar to an already validated Metcard supposed to be validated every time, but not enforced as it is a valid ticket).

    I cant help but think that many of the issues at Prahran are due to the very narrow station entrances and exits, not designed for 2010 peak hour crowds, whatever card system they’re using! I don’t live there now, but I did a few years back, and it was certainly packed getting in and out of the station then too!

    The card itself does not store any personal information, simply a balance and what pass (if any) is on it, as well as the last 10 transactions. Yes, your balance displays on the reader, but only for as long as the card is held there. The reality is, even if someone saw your balance and managed to steal your card, they can only use it for transport, and if you registered the card, a quick call to the myki number will get your card blocked, and the balance transferred to a new one. This makes it a lot safer than Metcard – if you lost your monthly (or worse) yearly Metcard – tough, there is no way to recover it.

    I’m not sure why you say that the system is not being promoted or explained? The website covers a lot of the questions you have asked – today there were new videos up that explain many aspects of the system too. There are myki posters everywhere as well!

    I agree that far too much money has been spent on this system, and there are many things that (with the benefit of hindsight) could have been done better, however overall, as a simple commuter, my experience has been pretty positive.

    Replies welcomed, however I won’t enter into a political debate, just happy to help with questions.

  4. March 3, 2010 4:22 AM

    So on what basis do you know that most the commuters currently getting off at Prahran are using Myki money? And that most in the future will be using Myki pass?

    I’m currently in the midst of a monthly pass and will definitely be going back to metcard once it’s finished. A week into the pass, all the readers at my station (zone 1) were down, not allowing me to touch off. Sure enough the next day my balance was in the negative thus disabling my pass. How can a system possibly punish a user with a valid ticket, because their equipment fails to function??

    On calling the customer center on the Monday (I failed to touch off Friday), I was told to call back the following day, becuase “Friday’s transactions weren’t visible yet”. WTF????
    I was also told to put some money on my account so that it would be valid again. Despite my misgivings about paying for a ticket which I already had paid for, I topped up $5 on the website. Too bad that once the transaction completed I was told that it could take up to 24 hours to appear on my card!!!

    3 weeks have passed and I’m yet to recieve my refund. Which other company can steal your money and the take their time returning it to you?

    Until the following happen I definitely will not be using myki again:
    – available on trams
    – credit card top ups on the website take place in real time
    – website shows my correct details (3 weeks in, and the website still fails to show my pass)

    • kiwiguy72 permalink
      March 4, 2010 12:56 AM

      I was making some assumptions re Prahran, the writer advised there was a logjam caused by myki card holders touching off. At Prahran station there is a logjam during peak hour all the time due to narrow station exits/entrances. And often when I lived there I would miss a train because I couldn’t enter the platform with those on the train exiting.

      Regular commuters, using public transport at least 5 days a week, would be unlikely to use myki money. I have a 365 day myki pass, and while when I first started using it about 2 months ago I was charged a default fare on myki money for not touching off, I called up and had it refunded within 2 days. Since then, I have purposely tested not touching off on my way home, I have not been charged a defaut fare since. I have a friend who has made the same tests and has not been charged. The next day the reader does advise that default fare has been deducted (it does an auto touch off and a touch on simultaneously) however the deduction is $0.00.

      I have also tested topping up via the website, I topped up at 10:30am, later that day my transaction status was “available at next touch on”. The next morning it didn’t show on the yellow FPD, however I then placed it on the top up machine (CVM) which advised that the new balance had been transferred to my card.

      It does appear that the web top-up data transfer takes longer to propogate out to the FPDs than the CVMs.

      While the website has certainly had some issues, there was a major upgrade done to transaction information last weekend.

      My suggestion is that you log into your account and download or print your transaction record which should clearly show that a default fare was charged when you were using myki pass.

      This is presented as a tax invoice, therefore is legally binding. I would be calling them up again after you print the records and if you don’t get refunded from the person you first speak to, ask to speak to a supervisor. There should be a record of your previous refund request in the “my requests” section. Mine shows as “customer compensation” with status “finished”, and on my transaction record as “Reimbursement- Call Centre”.

      Myki on trams, that’s a whole other issue, my understanding is the technical problem relates to accurate GPS location in the city, that is, if the tram (and therefore myki readers) doesn’t know it’s in the City Saver zone, it may charge incorrectly on myki money.

      I don’t believe myki should have been released until it was fully multi-modal.

      Hope this helps.

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