Month-long Myki muddle — New system’s many problems

Myki scanner out of serviceWith the new Myki ticketing system having been in public use for one month, the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has compiled a list of problems with it, and has called for the government to ensure the system is running more smoothly before switching more people from Metcard to Myki.

“We are continuing to advise passengers not to use Myki, but to stick to Metcard instead. By all means get a Myki card while they’re offered for free, but stick it in the drawer for a few months until the system works properly”, said PTUA President Daniel Bowen.

“While Myki on trains has so far been reasonably reliable, a number of people have had problems with it, and there have been enough issues that it would cause chaos in peak hours should large numbers of people use it.

“We have also received numerous complaints about the Myki web site, and in particular online topups.”

Mr Bowen said there was a range of problems, including delays at station gates, incorrect charging, some stations lacking any machines to top-up, and funds paid through the web site simply disappearing.

“The web site is a disaster area. How a system costing hundreds of millions of dollars can have such a shoddy web site is a real mystery. It doesn’t work with some of the most popular web browsers, it uses confusing jargon, it pedantically rejects names and addresses, it produces transaction reports which are not suitable for business and taxation purposes, and unbelievably it regularly takes people’s money and then loses it.

“All of these problems must be fixed. While it would make sense to make Myki valid on trams and buses as soon as the scanners are working reliably, the government must rectify these issues before getting more people onto Myki. Slow and unresponsive gates, for example, will cause chaos at busy city stations if more people start using it.

“Passengers face enough issues using public transport; from late and packed trains to slow trams to infrequent buses. They just want a ticketing system that works, and public transport that’s fast, frequent, clean, and reliable and gets them where they want to go”, concluded Mr Bowen.

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Myki system problems:

Confusion over Myki being valid on metropolitan trains, but not on trams or buses (particularly as trams and buses do not display “Testing only” notices in vehicles or on the scanners)**

Some City station gates do not respond to cards, or respond very slowly

Scanner response time is unpredictable – sometimes fast, sometimes slow**

Scanner beep tone does not differentiate between touch-on and touch-off (yet it does distinguish between full fare and concession, which is useless to passengers)

Confusion over fares, because scanners display the price of the fare (eg $2.94), but not what the fare is or when it expires (eg 2 hour Zone 1, expires 10am)

Reports of some trips from zone 2 through zone 1 to zone 2 (eg Greensborough to Highett) being charged at a zone 2-only rate (the correct fare is zone 1+2)**

Reports of some Myki Pass trips being charged a default (two zone) fare when not touching-off, which is not meant to happen

Delays in processing mean some cards require activation at station machines and/or registration on the web site, despite cover letter claiming they are already registered

Call Centre staff unable to fix anything other than the simplest problems; in many cases they are sending extra cards out instead

Cases of call Centre “service request” referrals for more complex problems resulting in the problem not being fixed, but irrelevant publicity material being emailed to the customer instead

21 stations have no Myki vending machines, including busy stations such as South Yarra, Box Hill, Frankston. Most of these are staffed stations, where a Metcard machine could be replaced by a Myki machine, leaving numerous other Metcard machines and booking office staff able to sell Metcards.

Some suburban stations have insufficient scanners to cope with peak hour crowds (particularly evenings when large numbers of people will need to touch-off their Myki tickets in quick succession)

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Myki web site problems:

Excessive delays between online topups and the money being available on the card

A number of reports of online topups or pass purchases going “missing”, despite the money being taken out of the customer’s bank account

Delays in some cards ordered online arriving in the mail**

Delays in travel history being listed on the web site

Travel history excludes some trips

Travel history zone information is blank

Some parts of the web site incompatible with some web browsers, including some versions of Firefox and Apple Safari, and all versions of Google Chrome

Web site order form is difficult to use: rejects suburb if missing a space, even if it is a common spelling such as “Glenhuntly” (which is not technically correct, but matches the railway station name); rejects given names if there is a space at the end of it. In most cases the web site will reject the entry but not tell the user specifically what the problem is.

Web site terminology confusing (eg “Waiting patron call” appears to indicate an ordered card has been sent)

Pass expiry date shown on web site is misleading, for instance showing February 5th when it is actually 3am on February 5th, eg the ticket effectively expires at the end of the day of February 4th. (Platform scanners show the full date/time, which could also be misleading, but at least is accurate.)

Transaction PDF report does not immediately download, but is emailed later, but some PDFs do not arrive, or are delayed

Transaction PDF report does not show all charges incurred; shows “zone 2” for stations in the zone 1/2 overlap; uses complex jargon like “Single Trip Stored Value product (City Saver)”; does not show opening balance; is not in a format suitable for business/tax purposes.

Web site confusingly refers to zone 0 (which is actually the City Saver zone)

**Update 9/2/2010: We have received feedback from the TTA that these problems have been largely resolved in the last couple of weeks, and this appears to be supported by anecdotal evidence from users. In the case of stations currently without Myki vending machines, the TTA advises that work has commenced on installing them. The TTA also tells us they are unable to replicate the problem of incorrect charging for a trip from zone 2 through zone 1 to zone 2, and that they are working on some of the other problems.