Smartcard cost would pay for conductors, station staff for over a decade

The billion dollar cost of the troubled Myki smartcard ticketing system, revealed in the Herald Sun today, would cover the direct cost of re-staffing Melbourne’s transport system for over a decade, the Public Transport Users Association said today.

PTUA President Daniel Bowen said rather than spending the money on a ticketing system which, like Metcard, could be replaced after ten years, the money would be better spent on returning conductors to trams and staff to every station.

“The original estimated $494 million cost of Myki was poor value, but $1 billion is a rip-off. For that price, the government could re-staff the system, spend $100m or so to keep Metcard going and have change left over to improve our woeful public transport services.”

Mr Bowen said a consistent staff presence on the system would improve passenger safety, provide better customer service and slash fare evasion, which is estimated to cost around $50 million every year.

The PTUA estimates that without taking into account any savings, it would cost $84 million a year to employ the 1200 additional staff required to put a staff member at every station and a conductor on every tram. This assumes a cost of $70,000 a year per staff member, including salary and other costs. The current bill for Myki would cover this for 12 years.

This does not take into account the increased fare revenue that would be expected from reduced fare evasion, better service and passengers’ increased confidence in their personal safety on the system, particularly at night.

“With more systematic checking of tickets, the regular stories of confrontation between ticket inspectors and passengers would also be a thing of the past” Mr Bowen said.

“Myki won’t solve our problems with fare evasion, and in light of the massive blow-out in costs, it’s high time the State Government reassessed its ticketing strategy” Mr Bowen concluded.

Contact the PTUA