Thursday, March 29, 2012

Using Myki

Many people in Melbourne and the the country areas of Victoria are now using our new ticket system known as Myki, not pronounced Micky. For myself and R, it works without a problem.

I was surprised to see how people place their Oyster Cards on a reader for a significant amount of time when they are using the London Underground. You can see it in the BBC Two television show The Tube. I have watched most of what I think is the last show. It featured fluffers, who do a rather different job to what what I  thought fluffers do.

I am wandering and shall do so a bit more. In Singapore, there was none of placing your card on a reader. It was as it is in Melbourne. You touch as you walk past and in Singapore, it was fast.

I have finally put my Myki card in a place in my wallet where 'multiple cards' won't be detected. But it has seemed to slow the reading of the card process down a bit. What I was doing was taking the card of my wallet and as I was boarding a tram or a bus, stretching out my arm a bit to reach the reader, holding the card between my thumb and forefinger and by the time I passed the reader, my card had registered.

Yet, I see people struggling at times with their card. It has been said before that you don't swipe the card past the reader, but touch the the face of the card to the reader. I've not really seen people trying to swipe but people do need to remember to just hold their card still against the reader.

But what people really need to remember is that on trams you generally don't need to touch off when leaving the vehicle. Touch on, and you will be charged the minimum two hour fare. On buses I am  not so sure but I suspect it is the same, the default fare being the minimum two hour ticket. We touch off on the bus, just in case. I have been quite amused to see people on trams carried to the next stop after the driver has closed the doors because they were just standing at the doorway trying to touch off when they did not even have to.

For both trams and buses, there are plenty of readers inside the vehicles. You should not stand at the entrance reader checking your card balance when there are people are behind you getting on. You are delaying them, so you are delaying the vehicle. Public transport needs to keep moving.

While I am on about public transport, if you are a fit and healthy person, for goodness sake, leave the bus by the back door and leave the front door for people getting on. It is not a rule, but can I just whack you over the head with a bit of common sense.


  1. I asked the oldest grandchildren (aged 9 and 7) this week why we use public transport instead of cars. Clever little things that they are ...looked at me as if I was a bit dim witted.

    First of all (they say it slowly, just in case I don't understand), trams and trains run on electricity and don't put petrol fumes in the air.

    Secondly you can read your ipad while you are travelling in trams and trains, but not if you are driving the car.

    One thing they did not think of. Walking to and from the tram stop requires exercise, something you do not get if you jump straight into the car.

  2. And electricity is made from... mostly fossil fuels, unless it's different in Melbourne.

    We have a chip-system too, you just hold it in front of the machine when you check in or out of bus, tram or metro. When you switch from one to another form of public transport within the hour you pay less for the route you're taking. People who travel by train often have an other card, the rest who don't still buy a paper slip* as a ticket.

    *recycled paper

  3. And still we in NSW wait for the transport card we were promised would be in place in time for Sydney's Olympic Games which are now 12 years in the past.

  4. 'Ere ! Oi've unny jist worked art 'ow ta put tha metcard in the roight way.

    Well, that's not totally true. I've never been able to work out how to put the Metcard in the right way on buses or trams at all.

    Metro customer service, at it's best, relies on a "promise them anything but give'em a lemon" approach. Even if Myki can be trusted, Metro staff still constitute a very weak human link in the chain between Myki and myself.
    After in depth discussions with 3 different Myki promotional staff I now have 3 different answers to each of 400 questions. I also now have enough Metcard trips to last me til my current job finishes.

    While buying the Metcards I wondered if I shouldn't just bite the bullet and cough up for a Myki card. Perhaps I was just being negative? Moving aside to put my stock of Metcards away, I heard the next customer step up to the ticket window and say "I spent a hundred dollars and a lot of time this morning getting this bloody thing - now make it work!"

    Some of us are not resistant to change, we simply don't understand it. And it's sooo very hard to get good help these days.

  5. If you're not sure whether to touch off on buses, just ask the driver, he'll tell you. I don't see why it's necessary, with the old style tickets we still have we don't de-validate them when getting off. I think we're getting the Myki cards by next year. Some of our new ticket readers have the spot where you hold the card against.
    I'm concerned about concessions though. I qualify for concession tickets which are cheaper, does the Myki system have concession cards?

  6. River, the bus drivers are grumps and besides, I don't like to bother them. I do know the default is a minimum fare, so you don't need to touch off on a bus.

    R is an old person, so he has a concession Myki card. He gets free travel at weekends, pretty cheap travel weekdays. Makes me think though. R and I are registered user. You can also have an anon card which you just top up with a machine, cash or card. I suppose you select concession fare when topping it up and it is up to ticket inspectors to ask for proof.

  7. Not too bad Hels. Gran needs to tell them about burning coal to make the electric. And that using public transport can be relaxing and you can don't have to do anything. You can just look out the window.

    Peter, we beat most places on earth with our power generation. We burn filthy, dirty wet brown coal to make electricity. I would be the highest polluting way to make electricity in the world, I think. No surprise that you have a sophisticated ticket system, but I have also recently learnt that the Netherlands train system is far from perfect.

    Victor, while I could never vote for the Libs, I can certainly take criticism of Labor. For NSW Labor, the list is very long and very corrupt too. NSW is not that much bigger in population than Victoria now. Why is NSW so hard to govern? It only seems to work when it runs on corruption.

    FruitCake. I try not to rely on other people. I find out for myself. I don't want to ask people for information or details. I want good signage, good maps and good websites. Or I ask people who know, who are not part of the business. Or just blog it and the answers come.

    But your comment makes me wonder if I know so much about the ticket system, that I am being unfair on people who don't. That sort of thing is a personal fault of mine. Feel free to ask me, privately or publicly, with what you don't get about the ticket system. I am not a professional ticket person, but I know people who are. I the meantime, use up your old tickets.

    River, in addition to the earlier response, I am always very cautious about details and directions given by public transport staff. Here in Melbourne, there is no point asking a tram driver about tickets. They don't deal with them and they don't know.

  8. River has touched on just one of my many questions. There are four different cards available: Full fare, Concession, Child and Senior. Each type looks different, and calculates fares a different way so it is essential to have the right card.
    What happens if your status varies from time to time? E.g. The Other qualifies for an age pension this month, but still wants to work some hours. I am about to become unemployed, and as we are registered as a couple I may or may not be a "Concession" person some fortnights, and therefore two different cards will be required for me if not for both of us. Only one "salesperson" was able to give me an answer and the - too quick - response was "they'll change it, and you probably won't have to pay $6 for another card." Whatever the truth, there will be some pfaffing about involved each time there is a change.
    The website contains bumff written by some PR person, is inadequate, and each source of info is as illuminating as the other. Admittedly it is improved from time to time.
    What happens when someone comes to Melbourne for a day or two? The answer - depending on whom you trust - is "They'll have to do something I suppose"; or "They can buy an unregistered card and then get a refund when they leave." Again, no advice about whether refunds will be available at the airport - if only sold at the airport through a newsagent they might have to cash it in before they go to the airport. Will a newsagent have authority to make refunds? If the current system is a guide the answer is no - I guess. How will visitors know or quickly understand all this? Why would they ever come back?

    One card can be used for one or both of two accounting systems; as a debit card of sorts, or as substitute for a ticket such as a weekly ticket. Theoretically the "best" deal is calculated after touching off. Five weekday trips in a row will eventually result in a price adjustment to the balance. At this point the salesperson - presumably not an accounting oriented person - can't explain why one would pre-purchase a ticket if that's the way it works.
    There are more questions, but perhaps these examples will explain my hesitation.

    To all of this confusion I might add the question of trust. There are many horror stories in the press of people being fined quite unreasonably, or even assaulted by ticket inspectors. When my Metcard failed one day, the gatekeeper waved me through. I had the presence of mind to ask what would happen if an inspector wanted to see my ticket? He advised I would probably get a fine - but only because I had thought to ask. I then had to press him for advice before he grudgingly told me to go to "the machine" to check it. No machine that I could find after much looking where he had pointed. Huge queue at the ticket window. Form eventually completed and ticket replaced. Next train – no surprise - was cancelled, so one hour of my time gone forever.

    Given the time and money spent getting this thing set, why anyone should trust or understand the software is beyond me. Like you, Andrew, I often wonder why people can’t see what is obvious to me.
    Why did we not simply licence an existing ticket system and just change the parameters? Why is Qld Health’s software still not paying people properly after nearly two years? The answer to this requires only one word: Dickheads. Smug dickheads who assume us Luddites are dickheads.
    In the 70s ? Barclays Bank London went live with a computerised accounting system but didn’t run the old system in parallel until the new one was proven, and they lost millions when the new system failed. Why have Qld Health or others not learned from this?
    Programmers are programmers but rarely “system thinkers” – what change managers ask for is what they get, and most Australian customer service people have a customer service ethic that sucks. End of rant, thank you for your time.

  9. FruitCake, how would that first situation be dealt with under Metcard? You must have the concession card to buy a concession ticket.

    I think something will be done for very occasional users and tourists.

    The faulty Metcard business is a real system problem and what you experienced is just plain wrong.

    Buying an off the shelf system from another country seemed wise to all except those who have vested interest in something completely new.

    There was a similar problem with Army pay. It went on for so long and many were being overpaid and of course eventually the army wanted the money back.

    Interesting about Barclays. It happens time and time again. I am not so harsh on the front line people who also get very frustrated when things fail. It all comes right from the top and cascades down through management levels and it is the person at the bottom who has to deal with these things.

  10. evevrything is too fast for me in Singapore. One day, my MRT fell just at the bottom of the MRT escalator, I couldn't retrieve it because people were just coming down so fast. Eventually, some one kicked it out of the way, and I was able to get it.

  11. Ann, yes, things are pretty fast in Singapore, especially to do with the trains. In an odd coincidence, I am reading your comment having just come from the website for the Sentosa Monorail.

  12. Sorry Andrew, the more I rant the more obscure I become.

    With respect to pension, concession and seniors cards, the Metcard system only requires that I buy the correct card on the day. I think for long term tickets [something I've never been one to buy] there is a policy of providing partial refunds. No question that a refund would involve some pfaffing about, of course.

    Myki is different however - as it constitutes a virtual account, the status would have to be changed somewhere deep in the heart of Texas each time circumstances change. Much more pfaffing about than under the Metcard buy it on the day system. While inspectors will now have Myki readers, I'm not sure how much info they will have access to while on trains, and I assume this is reflected in the different appearance of each type of card. If the hardware [card] itself must be changed, will this incur another $6 charge?

    I would like to think something will be done for very occasional users and tourists, though Metcard machines are already being withdrawn and if something will be done it should have been done by now. Extremely unfair to the elderly or unwell etc, who already must travel huge distances to Melbourne for serious medical treatments, and don’t need the extra worry of trying to work out the ticket system.

    I’m quite happy to blame the higher-ups for the crappy system, and failing to allow contingency plans for Metcards that die on the job. On the other hand, a poor service ethic is the personal responsibility of people at all levels, including those who have the personality of a pit-bull crossed with a lemon tree.

    BTW, I'm enjoying the docos about the Tube :)

  13. FC, you must be scrupulously honest. I don't think even I would buy a full priced ticket if I was in possession of a concession card.

    Thinking further, if you have a concession card issued to you and it is valid, then you are entitled to a concession ticket.

    Casual users are a big issue. I have not even heard rumours, apart from a thermal ticket, whatever that is.

    Yes, some public transport staff are not helpful. Some are perfunctory. Some go out of their way. My experiences are mostly positive. Anyway, poor service ethic comes down from the top too.

    Th stats I hear on The Tube show are astonishing. Forty pest removers and one, forget the name, the bloke with the bird of prey. Eighteen closed Tube stations. I forget most of them.

  14. I cannot tell a lie. Not only would I buy a concession ticket if I could get away with it, I have sometimes worked for "cash". [No, you naughty boy. Work work.]

    For all that, concession cards are issued with short expiry dates and there were times I was entitled to one but did not have one.

    Chemists now have access to a centrelink database of "currently approved" cards.
    The world is going to the dogs.

    You've heard rumours of a thermal ticket? Excellent.
    Thermal paper is just the sort modern cash registers print out - the process involves heat, and the image fades quickly. Perhaps the price will be like London's 4 Pounds quick fix. If I were desperate I would much prefer 4 pounds to a wopping great fine [with a threat of gratuitous violence as well].
    I might not be scrupulously honest all the time, but I am a committed pessimist.

  15. FC, I have never seen inspectors do anything untoward when dealing with passengers, in fact always polite. One day I did notice one showing signs of exasperation though. I expect it will be one set price ticket, or maybe a concession one too, hopefully less than £4.

  16. I've not used Myki but I need to get myself a new card as when I got my first one I was a student and it was a concession card. It's too much of a palava to change it over so I'll just cough up for a new one.

    I loved the Oyster system in the UK, I used to have my Oyster Card in my purse and I'd just touch that on the reader and it never failed. It was simple to top up too, either online or at the stations. I'd assume ours is similar, though I have heard that topping up can take days to register onto your card, which is a bit fail.

  17. Fen, for six dollars, I think it is a good idea to just buy a new one. Yes, topping up is slow to be credited. Why should it be? Credit and online. Why should they be slow?

  18. You should watch all of The Tube, it's really quite fascinating and has made me somewhat "homesick".

  19. I have Fen. I wrote a post about it. I think Ep 6 is the last. I feel like you. I feel homesick for a place I spent a few days in.