But first I want to mention the known bugs… that is, leaving aside “by-design” flaws and issues such as bus/tram incorrect zone detection hopefully likely to be resolved by the end of Myki’s headless mode.
Known bugs in Myki
Myki Pass Retail Console Bug. There’s a bug in the retail consoles which means that if your Myki card (which has a four year lifespan) expires in less than a year, you can’t buy a Pass of any duration. So you might have 300 days left until the card expires, but you can’t even buy a 7 day Pass.
This does not affect Myki vending machines; it’s unclear if it’s an issue with railway station booking office equipment.
Free weekend travel — not quite free. If you have a Zone 1 Pass, then travel in zone 2 on weekends and public holidays is free. That’s because to calculate your fare, it uses the Weekend Daily Cap (currently $3.50) but subtracts the two-hour fare of the Pass (also currently $3.50) making it zero extra cost.
But the bug is in the way this calculation is done at touch-on and touch-off. It turns out if the Myki Money balance is zero, it won’t allow you to touch-off in zone 2 (eg having touched-on and travelled from zone 1) — and presumably will also stop you touching-on in zone 2 as well.
Preventing you touching-on outside your Pass zone is perhaps understandable, but stopping you touching-off when the system knows a zero fare is chargeable is clearly a bug.
Fixed 1/1/2014 — touch-on (and presumably touch-off) is now possible with a zero balance.
Zone overlap travel followed by zone 1 travel. The scenario: Use Myki Money, and make a trip first in the zone 1/2 overlap (charged at the cheaper zone 2 fare, $2.42), then after the initial 2-hour fare has passed, make a trip in zone 1 ($3.50), then after another 2-hours has passed make a third trip in zone 1 ($3.50).
You should pay the Daily Zone 1 cap ($7.00), because all of your travel has been within zone 1. But you actually get charged a Zone 2 2-hour fare, plus the Daily Zone 1 cap (a total of $10.50). This bug was first found back in 2010. As far as I know it hasn’t yet been fully resolved, though I seem to recall they now do scans of the database to find and reimburse people who have made this combination of travel.
None of these three bugs are likely to affect the majority of people, but neither are they completely obscure.
Update 10/4/2013: Last week a bug with overlapping Passes emerged; sometimes a second Pass loaded onto a card may activate before the first Pass has expired. Details here.
Other things that have to be fixed
Here’s a list of other things they could/should fix — and I’d note many of them should not be not expensive or difficult (though given how the project has been run so far, who knows):
- faster touch times — as discussed previously, Myki is noticeably slower than Perth and Brisbane’s systems. I’m guessing this wouldn’t be easy to fix, but would make a huge difference.
- different sounds for touch-on vs touch-off so less people need to visually inspect the screens, speeding up queues — the current distinction (single/double beep) is pointless
- fix the unwanted receipts issue — at least the modification they’re rolling out now removes many of the unwanted details on credit card receipts, but at present you’ll still get an EFTPOS receipt when you don’t want one
- speed up online topup, particularly for fixed devices — eg be in a position to guarantee topup available at stations within 60 mins
- short term tickets (printed like receipts, as is done in Brisbane and Perth), even if Daily is the only option. Price them as high as you like, but have them available.
- …which includes fixing the pricing differential in regional cities — it’s as little as about 6% difference at present in some cases — no wonder the majority of people still buy individual tickets on regional buses
- better contrast colours on vending machines by default, to help with sunlight
- cut cost of 28+ day passes to make them more attractive (they’re way overpriced compared to most other cities around the world), so they’re a no-brainer for regular users, linked with…
- educate/promote no need to touch-off on a Pass
- consider scrapping 7-day pass and replace with 7-day cap, to simplify things for users — this was originally planned, but didn’t happen for some reason
- proper refund system (not just card return) for Myki cards at the airports and cruise ship terminal — probably not needed if short term tickets provided
- if short term tickets aren’t coming back, remove all mentions from system (eg vending machines, forms) — a vending machine rollout on now fixes this, but it’s taken 18 months to get it done, and some forms still mention them
- have some usability specialists go through the whole system, especially the web site transaction list
- upgrade Myki Check devices so they can collect online topups — this is a source of confusion currently
- remove the multiple cards detected error if the second card isn’t a Myki — should be as simple as checking the card type flags and/or card number ranges. This would make it easier to use your Myki card from a wallet or handbag.
- sort out a better process for expired cards, for instance so they can be exchanged over-the-counter at any staffed railway station — my first card was bought in April 2009, but expires today. I only got the email about replacement on Friday
- have online top-ups which are not completed after 90 days go back to the originating bank account, not into “archive”, so they are more visible to people, and the perception is the money hasn’t been “stolen”
- show expiry time for Myki Money fares
- make the minimum balance for touch-on be zero (instead of above zero) if a valid fare product for the touch-on zone is on the card — currently for instance to use a $3.50 weekend fare you have to load a little more onto the card so the balance stays above zero. This is counter-intuitive.
- automatic operator compensation to eligible customers
Finally, two things that should be dead easy and cheap but would help stem the tide of (sometimes unwarranted) negativity:
- issue promotional Myki cards, eg AFL team colours, to help improve take-up and “win the hearts and minds” of grumpy users
- publicise the actual good things about Myki, such as “change of mind” at railway stations, the fact that you can start a (metropolitan) trip with as little as 1 cent on your card (which may prevent missing a train when you need to top-up), and the now much easier access to cheap fares like the $3.50 Weekend Daily (which is also available on public holidays, a clear advantage over Metcard)