Myki must work for users; must provide single-use option

Myki Short term ticketThe Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has welcomed an end to the uncertainty over Myki, but criticised the dumping of single-use tickets for new and occasional public transport users.

“Finally, there is an answer – Myki will be staying”, said PTUA President Daniel Bowen. “But the apparent move to run the system only with reusable Myki cards, with no single-use tickets available, means a significant barrier to people who do not regularly use public transport – the very people we need to entice out of their cars.”

The state government’s plan is to remove vending machines from trams, and will be “eliminating to the extent possible the introduction of disposable short-term cards” [1]. Mr Bowen said this would mean that no single use tickets at all would be available once Metcard is scrapped.

Mr Bowen said it made sense to cut the use of short-term tickets [2] (which are currently in use on regional town buses), because of their estimated cost of 35 cents per card, but it was critical that an alternative be provided.

“If occasional users, whether they be tourists or locals, cannot buy a ticket on board, it will discourage them from using public transport at all. They will either involuntarily fare-evade, or choose to drive instead.

“It is ridiculous to tell people they can’t take a trip on a tram, train or bus without first investing in a $10 card.

“Ideally as many people as possible will have re-usable Myki cards, to cut transaction costs and loading times, particularly on buses, but it is completely unrealistic to assume that absolutely everybody will have a card.”

Mr Bowen said that the government should adapt the Myki equipment to sell and print single-use tickets on paper, using the existing hardware currently used to print topup receipts.

“This would provide a cost-effective option for those who rarely use public transport. Without such an option, the system will have an uphill battle trying to attract new users.”

Other changes

Mr Bowen said that apart from single-use tickets, the government should make a number of other changes to the Myki system:

  • cut the price of Myki Passes (periodicals) in line with other cities around the world[3], to encourage these fares, which result in reduced transaction costs and times, and in most cases do not require touch-off on every trip[4];
  • cut the price of Myki Money fares in regional cities, where currently the discount from single fares is only about 10% [5];
  • add functionality so that eligible Myki Pass users can receive operator performance compensation automatically, rather than have to apply for it; and
  • reform fare zones to remove anomalies such as two-zone fares for relatively short trips such as Box Hill to Camberwell, and to locations such as major hospitals at Box Hill and Clayton.

Measures to reduce touch-off times and cut delays should include:

  • better educating users on when they do not need to touch-off (for instance, on trams if travelling within zone 1);
  • ensure that touch times are more consistently fast, allowing passengers to touch their cards without breaking stride; and
  • modify Myki reader sounds to distinguish between touch-on and touch-off sounds, so users can confidently and quickly touch their cards more quickly on standalone readers without having to look at the display.

Other software changes needed to improve the system include:

  • reviewing all system prompts to ensure they are as clear as possible;
  • ensuring blocked cards (caused by problems such as auto-topup failing due to credit card expiry) do not have to be sent in to be unblocked; and
  • resolving issues with multiple RFID cards (such as a Myki card and a PayPass credit card) confusing readers, which would allow more users to touch their Myki cards from within wallets.

Mr Bowen said the government should also consider refunds for Myki cards handed back, which would assist tourists, particularly if short term tickets were not to be offered, and should run another free offer for more users to get cards.

“It looks like Myki is here to stay. The challenge now for government is to make it work: not just to cut the costs to taxpayers, but also to ensure it works for passengers – be they regulars or occasional users of public transport”, concluded Mr Bowen.

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[1] State government: Fixing myki to get Victoria’s transport ticketing system back on track

[2] Short term tickets are used on regional town buses. They are a single-use cardboard ticket with a Myki-compatible chip inside them

[3] A PTUA study in February found that Melbourne’s monthly ticket prices are among the highest in the world, in comparison with daily fares.

[4] Myki Pass holders do not need to touch-off when travelling in zones covered by their Pass.

[5] For example, Ballarat or Geelong single zone 2-hour ticket concession $1.00, Myki Money equivalent 90 cents.