Monthly Archives: September 2008

Backward steps.

Myki is the Victorian government’s answer to NSW’s T-Card; an expensive white-elephant, highly likely to end up on the scrap-heap and with a cringe-inducing name that presumably marked the high-point of the career of some pony-tailed marketroid.

Myki is supposed to make the public transport user’s life easier, by being a contactless smartcard with the ability to always calculate the lowest possible fare for any given journey (I imagine whoever came up with this line was turning a blind eye to the likely cost of $15-$20 per user for the privilege of being able to hold the card itself).

Unfortunately, Myki’s mode of operation is going to make travelling quite inconvenient. If it ever passes its trial (conveniently chosen to be performed in Geelong, where they only have one bus, whose sole purpose is to transport workers between the Ford factory and anywhere-but-Geelong), travellers will not only have to validate their ticket when starting a journey, they will have to “tag off” when they complete it, or they will be charged a higher fare. Brisbane’s Go-card system (what is it with these marketing people?), which started not all that long ago, operates in a similar way and has resulted in an absolute killing for the government’s annual revenue.

Ultimately, the part that annoys me most about this is the social engineering of commuters; forcing users to adapt themselves to the system, rather than making the system fit them. If they have a ticket that is already paid for and valid for a period of time, then they just want to get on a frigging tram and sit down, preferably a long way away from the derro inhaling solvents on the back steps.

And when they get to their destination, they want to get off. Quickly, and easily, without being stuck behind the old dear who has lost her ticket somewhere in the bottom of her handbag, probably underneath that pile of used tissues that she’s pulling out right now.

Validating tickets at every turn makes that a pain. And if the government isn’t willing to put conductors back on trams, or staff back in railway stations, then no amount of money spent on technology is going to halt fare-evasion in Melbourne. Those people who don’t want to pay will continue to play gestapo-lotto with the roving thugs ticket inspectors and probably come out ahead.

Furthermore, one of my favourite bloggers, Daniel Bowen (who just happens to be the President of the Public Transport Users Association in Victoria) has noted that transitioning towards Myki is also going to herald another retrograde step. Melbourne’s weekly, monthly and yearly tickets have long had a nice lurk in that they are valid in all zones over the weekend. From January 1st, 2009, this feature will be gone.

I can’t see this doing anything to improve Melbourne’s weekend traffic congestion which, at least from my admittedly non-participatory point-of-view, appears to be worse than it is on weekdays and doesn’t even ease up in the middle of the day (at this point, insert standard complaint about soccer mums, four-wheel drives and private school Saturday sport. Make the bloody kid walk to his soccer match, Mrs Robertson-Smythe).

Lynne Kosky, expect a piece of my mind in your mailbox very soon.