Flaky Myki

Even though the Metcard is probably the last functional vestige of the public transport system, it is to be severed. Its replacement is a malformed, grossly over-priced, hideous new appendage.

Maybe I’m being a bit unfair. I don’t know if the new system will work or not. But I have my doubts…

I ordered a Myki and it arrived in the mail about two days ago. It came with a letter that sternly insisted I check the details on the card to make sure they were correct. The letter also informed me that the Myki card was a concession card. This was repeated thrice. I am not entitled to a concession, so I rang the Myki people to see if I had incorrectly applied, or whether a clerical error had been made. The first thing I heard on the recorded message was this: “All Mykis of all sorts had been accompanied by a letter falsely stating they were concession tickets. Don’t panic.”

I began to panic.

If our new ticketing agency can’t even send out a letter, how will it cope with what will happen when Myki is not just a bad headline, but a system a million people rely on?

The Myki system is a classic example of over-reach. If I were a completely green, rookie, noobish public servant, I might think ‘existing systems that can be bought off the shelf aren’t well suited to Melbourne’.

If I were so starry-eyed, I might believe the quotes and timelines pitched to me by some greedy company that wants to design a bespoke ticketing system for ‘only slightly more’ than it would cost to import the Oyster system.

And if I were that ignorant, I might be surprised when the project came in 3 years late, trebled its budget, and failed to deliver on core capabilities. However, I have done some work with the Department of Defence, so nothing can faze me.

Here’s a lesson, project managers. Buy off the shelf. Big projects go bad so fast you’ll drown in your own excuses… Their complex interrelations mean when one of the zillion components fails, it pushes everything else back. Time is money. Budget blowouts compound, rather than grow linearly.

So, anyway, $1.35 billion is not so much to spend to replace a functioning ticketing system with one that is 90% likely to be utterly %$^* , #$#@^ and ^%$&%.

Ooops, it can’t be billion, can it? Wait hold on yes, $1.35 billion. Metcard cost less, but that was ancient history! A massive fifteen years ago. In this era of obsolescence, I expect Myki should last at least half that long.

All piss and wind aside, I’m excited to have a Myki. I’m all for charging people for what they use, and using fares to distribute PT usage away from peak times. The intelligent technology should in theory allow fares to differ between shorter and longer trips. If enough of our money is channeled through the Government to fix the system it will eventually work, and then we will have something that will make PT better.

But as for how I would have spent $1.3 billion on Melbourne’s Public Transport?

1. Improve reliability by fixing rails and fixing signals.

2. Build a train to Monash University, build a train to Doncaster, and/or build a train to the airport: See this excellent map – I especially like the line that stops at Melbourne University, turns right through Fitzroy, and heads along the Eastern freeway.

What different about myki

1. You’ll have to swipe your card both getting on and off the tram, bus or train.
2. You’ll have to pay for the card, unless you order it online before the 17th of January.
3. Fares will be cheaper. Myki fares are equal to the discount price on 10-trip tickets
4. Myki money vs Myki pass. The former charges you trip-by-trip. The latter is the substitute for the weekly /monthly /yearly tickets and seems to be priced to get you to use Myki money.

Has anyone used Myki yet? Any opinions you would like to vent? put them all below!

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Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

6 thoughts on “Flaky Myki”

  1. Nice map. I like the lines that bypass North Melbourne.

    Two ways I’ve noticed myki won’t actually be cheaper/more convenient:

    1. You can’t keep a weekly pass handy to use when appropriate, using 10 x 2hrs/myki money in the meantime, because if you put a myki pass on it’ll use this straight away. That means you can only buy it just before you want to use it, which means at the station because if you bought it online it might either activate too early or not be loaded in time (takes a couple of days), meaning having to get to the station early and stress in the queue.

    2. Related to the first – all about the order in which you can use credit…

    On one day you make three trips, the first in a single zone, the second and third in that zone plus another. The first and second are within two-hours, so will be charged as a double-zone 2hr. The last trip is within 2hrs of the second, but not the first, so it will represent another double-zone two-hour (or a daily overall).

    Using Metcards, a regular traveller would have used a single-zone two-hour for the first trip and a double-zone two-hour for the second two. i.e. slightly cheaper

    Very picky and detailed, I know, but since they’ve made the claim that they’ll always be cheaper than Metcards, a small slip is still a big fail.

    Both these points show Metcards to be more flexible, another thing myki likes to claim…


  2. I’ve never understood why Melbourne and Sydney attempted to develop their own systems, rather than buy off the shelf systems that work in places like London or Hong Kong. Is there any break down of the $1.3 billion? It seems an incredible amount of money to pay for a ticketing system.

    Then again, at least the myki system is going ‘live’. The proposed t-card system for Sydney didn’t get that far.


    1. Yeah, i heard that London has a system called Octopus or something, and it can handle four customers going through a gate a second. Our system can handle one customer every four seconds. Maybe.

      My favourite fail of the system is that it’s supposedly a smartcard, and yet concession holders have to have a separate card that shows they’re eligible for a concession. Can’t they just put that onto the smartcard?

      My second favourite fail is that when they say it’ll be cheaper, what they mean is that people using the old system will be penalised by having to pay more. The way they put it is that people using myki will be “rewarded” with cheaper prices. That still sounds like people are being fined for using the old system to me…


  3. Hong Kong has the Octopus system, London has the Oyster system although I suspect it is very ‘Octopussy’…(Lame 007 ref)

    Both work the same, very well etc. The best thing about the Octopus card in Hong Kong is that you can also use it at 7 11 stores and other such convenience stores, supermarkets etc… It’s great. They’ve also got ferries to deal with – seamlessly.

    I have a friend who lives in Hong Kong, he works at the airport. His company issue ‘company’ octopus cards that give him half-price fares to the airport. I think this is a particularly good way to reduce parking costs (for the company that would otherwise have to provide staff parking), and reduce road congestion. Surely this would be a tax benefit for an Australian company.

    Why aren’t WeKi more Octopussy.


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