Old photos from January 2005

Continuing my series of old photos from ten years ago

At the house in Carnegie, we had an old slide (which eventually got left there for whoever moved in after us) and a trampoline (which came with us, but in the end when we’d tired of it, got given to relatives who would use it more). Here I am mid-bounce, with my ancient Reg Mombassa Mambo for Greenpeace anti-car t-shirt.
Bouncing on the trampoline

Back when I did the all dishes by hand. Nowadays most of these would go in the dish washer. I love having a dish washer. The dish rack lasted me about ten years, but rust started to get to it, so it got replaced last year by a slightly smaller one that fits better in the space I have.
Dishes

The train home from Warragul arrives. We’d gone down there for just a quick joy ride.
Warragul station

Asleep on the train home from Warragul. Well, probably pretending to sleep, getting one of the kids to snap the photo.
Asleep on the train home from Warragul

The Town Hall (Collins Street at Swanston Street) tram superstop opened in 2001. By 2003 route 109 had been extended to Box Hill. But by January 2005, the signs at the premier stop along the route still said Mont Albert. I think from memory I did send this photo around and eventually it got fixed. This type of thing eventually helped inspire the PTUA’s Problem Of The Day series in 2012-2013, highlighting mostly smallish public transport problems via photos.
Incorrect signage, Town Hall tram stop

Public transport system signage – mostly improving, but some is getting vaguer

At any station with multiple platforms, especially when they’re not adjacent (eg an island platform), you’re going to need to know which one your train leaves from. At many it’s easy — one platform is going towards the City, one is away.

Some stations have three platforms. The third track is often used for peak hour expresses, and the platforms used can vary across the day.

My local station used to have signs specifying which times the trains out of the City towards Frankston depart from platform 3. You really need to know if your train is on platform 3 before you enter the station, otherwise you’ll have to come all the way out again to its separate entrance — and you might miss your train in the process.

At some stage last year, the signs got messed up, and ended up with contradictory information:

Bentleigh station - When is platform 3 in use?

As you can see from this lengthy Twitter conversation, sometime around the middle of last year, the times were removed at numerous stations, pending a new train timetable.

When to use platform 3? Not sure.

The new train timetable came and went, and for months the signs’ times remained blank.

Perhaps they were struggling with coming up with a message that reflected that sometimes platform 3 is in use until a specific time in the morning, but sometimes there are delays, and it goes later. (It’s good to switch from 3 to 2 so all passengers go to the one island platform, where there are better facilities, but I’ve suggested in the past they delay the switchover an extra 15-20 minutes after track 2 is clear, to have a more definite, fixed time that allows for delays.)

A couple of weeks ago they came up with an answer:

When to use platform 3? During "AM peak", whatever that means.

Umm… yes. AM peak. A bit vague, isn’t it? How are you meant to know when “AM peak” is?

If you actually go up to the platform (which may not be the right platform, mind you) you’ll find in smallprint on the timetable poster that it indicates which trains use platform 3. Note how they are from platform 3 until 9:10, then there are a few that aren’t, then another one at 9:36. (These times are for Patterson, 2 minutes further down the line; I don’t seem to have a photo handy for the same sign at Bentleigh.)

Which trains from platform 3?

None of this would be so much of a problem if the automated sign near the station entrance worked, but it hasn’t for almost four years — in fact, similar signs seem to have been de-activated at other stations too, and of course most stations don’t have these. Realtime information is available on the platforms (via green buttons on all, as well as displays currently being installed), but that’s too late to prevent backtracking if you’ve got the wrong platform.

But this is just signs, right? They’re not that important!

Not so. Information is a crucial factor in determining whether someone will choose to use public transport. Having the service available for your trip is one thing — knowing where and when it runs is also vital, as this diagram from the Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual (chapter 4, Exhibit 4-9) shows:

Transit availability factors (Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual, Third Edition)

Timely, accurate, easily accessible information is important. It’s about making the system as simple as possible to navigate and use. As simple as hopping in your car.

Telling people heading towards Frankston that they need platform 3 “in AM peak” is better than nothing, but it’s a long way from the kind of precision information that people need to catch a train without delay, without risking missing a service, and without having to annoyingly backtrack if their platform guess is wrong.

Publications and signage around the system (both static and realtime) has improved a lot over the past few years, particularly with Metlink/PTV guiding driving standards across operators, but they’re not perfect yet.

Another glitch with #Myki: It pays you $1.52 to travel further

Over the years there have been various problems with the Myki ticketing system. Some have been self-inflicted, such as the lack of a single use ticket, which was the result of a Coalition decision in 2011. Others are down to poor implementation, such as the slow and inconsistent read times for cards, or the difficulty that trams and buses have in detecting which of Melbourne’s two gigantic zones they are in.

Perhaps the most alarming issues are those that involve incorrect charging. There was a doozy found in 2013 where a Pass would activate early. And a few years ago a glitch emerged where if someone with a Zone 1 Myki Pass went travelling into zone 2 on the weekend, the system would pay them 2 cents for doing so. At the time, the Transport Ticketing Authority tried to claim it was a result of the system working as it should to calculate the correct fare, but admitted it may appear to be a quirky outcome.

A new issue has emerged since the zone changes on 1st of January. Uncovered by dedicated Myki user “TheMykiUser“, under some circumstances, the system will credit you $1.52 in Myki Money.

Myki bug

I replicated it myself on Sunday. It would seem the circumstances are:

  • You need to have a zone 1-only Myki Pass
  • It needs to be a public holiday or weekend — this doesn’t happen on a regular weekday when the $6 cap doesn’t apply
  • You need to travel in zone 2 on two separate occasions (eg in two separate 2-hour blocks) on the same day — this could be for instance travelling into zone 2, then travelling back, provided you touch-on to come back more than 2-hours after you first touched-on

Somehow the combination of a day’s travel in zone 2, but having already paid for zone 1, with the weekend/public holiday $6 cap applying means the system will decide that rather than charge you an additional amount it will credit you for $1.52.

Why does it do it?

Note that $1.52 is the same amount of the weekday zone 1+2 daily fare $7.52, minus the weekend/public holiday $6 cap, so it’s assumed these are factors.

Those who have bigger brains than I may like to try and interpret this text in the 2015 Fares And Ticketing Manual, which documents Myki’s business rules:

Where a product already exists on a customer’s myki (a 2 hour product, Daily product or a myki pass) that is valid for a zone(s) and the customer makes a journey that consists of, or includes, travel in a zone(s) for which the existing product is not valid, the fare for the journey is the 2 hour fare for all zones for which the existing product is valid combined with the zone(s) for which the existing product is not valid minus the 2 hour fare for all zones for which the existing product is valid.

I’m recognising the individual words, but translating it into an equation where it pays you $1.52 is a bit beyond me at present.

And what’s staggering is that nowhere in the fare calculation logic did they include a sanity check that says: Is the final fare less than zero? If so, set it to zero, because it doesn’t make sense to have a negative fare.

Myki 2015 bus signage

If they want Myki to work smoothly, they should stop messing with the fare structure

This issue has occurred since the zone changes on 1st of January.

After all the problems Myki has had, the politicians should know better than to mess with the ticketing system like this, but having come up with the clumsy plan to cut prices by removing two-zone fares[1], the boffins at PTV and their contractors had to find a way to implement it.

I had assumed they would expand zone 1 to cover all of zone 2 as well (thus making a huge overlap area, but reflecting how they changed the tram zones in 2010), but they seem to have implemented it in a different way, which probably explains why they no longer sell a Zone 1 Pass — instead they sell a Zone 1+2 Pass (at the price of a zone 1-only Pass), or a slightly cheaper Zone 2-only Pass.[2] I suspect this bug won’t appear using one of the new Zone 1+2 Passes.

Who knows how many thousands of people have those existing Zone 1 Passes which have this quirk. (On weekdays these correctly give free travel in zone 2.) That said, it’s probably not the kind of issue that’ll see lots of people trying to gain a $1.52 credit.

Myki check, showing $1.52 credit

It’s not the first time a political decision has caused headaches with Myki. The removal of zone 3 in 2007 (well after Myki had started being built, but before the public rollout started) meant problems for the higher numbered regional zones, and eventually left Lara station in three zones: 2, 3 and 4. As with the latest change, they would have done better to reduce all fares rather than remove zones.

The result is, I suspect, a bug which will affect existing Zone 1-only Passes, until these have all expired, and been replaced by Zone 1+2 Passes over the next year or so.

  • [1] All that money — $1.5 billion over ten years — paid to build and run the Myki system, and now most trips all cost the same price. Terrific.
  • [2] Of course they also sell Passes for other regional zones. This article concentrates on Melbourne zones 1 and 2.
  • TheMykiUser has also written a blog post on this issue

Update Tuesday: The Age — Myki: now it’s paying you to travel

Welcome to the year 2015

Welcome to the year 2015. Sounds so futuristic, doesn’t it.

A while ago, last century, I wrote a short story called The Year 2031, about a space mission to Venus, published in 19 weekly parts in 1998 as part of my (still going) Toxic Custard weekly email newsletter.

Back in 1998, the year 2031 seemed way off into the future. It alarms me somewhat to find that we are now halfway to 2031.

Toxic Custard Workshop FilesThe Year 2031

Reading back over the opening paragraphs, clearly I am not the world’s best futurist, though so far, some of the predictions still look okay.

It was the year 2031. Nothing much had changed, really. Technology was faster, more sophisticated and cheaper, and people still didn’t know how to program their videos. Something new and incredible was being done with microchips every day. They’d figured out how to give everyone on the planet affordable Web access, and if they could just figure out how to give them all affordable food, the human race had a real chance of going places.

So far so good, I stand by most of this. We don’t have “videos” (VCRs) anymore, but I think people still have trouble with PVRs. I suspect the difference is fewer people now want to record TV at all, thanks to DVD box sets, and iView and other services allowing you to watch later.

The Middle East was still a powderkeg and nobody would back down over Northern Ireland. More significantly, McDonald’s was in real danger of reaching the critical mass of hamburger restaurants, and were about to begin their plan to diversify into pizza. Talentless saps still ruled the music charts. And everyone was still burning up the world’s increasingly precious oil stocks like there was no tomorrow.

Northern Ireland is pretty peaceful these days. McDonald’s probably reached Peak Burger some time ago, at least in Australia, and are exploring new ways to make money, including opening an experimental cafe in Sydney.

Peak Oil is a bit less certain, I think, but it’s certainly still being burnt up with little thought to its longer-term impacts.

But on the space exploration front, NASA was kicking arse. Although they’d developed computer graphics simulators so realistic they could virtually just simulate all their missions instead of actually conducting them, they knew that if anybody ever found out, the government would want all the money back. So they kept on sending up rockets.

In 2012, one entrepreneur had even organised a civilian excursion onto the moon. A kind of moon picnic for anyone who could afford the astoundingly expensive fare. It had been a bit of a disaster though – halfway to the moon somebody had pressed the wrong button, and the hundreds of sandwiches had gone flying off into space. Everyone had got back safely, but boy were they hungry when they touched down. Nobody had tried that since.

There are civilian moves into space, priced for the super-rich only, but they haven’t started yet, in fact Virgin Galactic had a setback last year which means it probably won’t happen any time soon.

A manned mission to Mars had finally gone ahead in 2015. It had proven beyond all doubt that there really were no little green men – not that we should discount the existence of red dust creatures or something equally improbable and not perceptible to man. After this, NASA started to look towards Venus for the next mission.

Still only unmanned missions to Mars so far. The current thinking appears to be that a manned mission won’t happen before 2025, and NASA isn’t looking at it until well into the following decade.

Admittedly it’s all a bit undergraduate, but re-reading the story today gave me a few laughs from jokes I’d forgotten I’d included.

You can read the whole 2031 story here.

Apologies for the colour scheme.

Comparing public transport smartcards around Australia

Brisbane and Perth had got their smartcard systems before the Myki system started in Melbourne (just on 5 years ago). Other cities have followed, and now all Australian capital cities have public transport smartcards.

Every single one of those other cities has a paper or single use ticket alongside the smartcards.

And every single one of these other systems has been provided by a supplier with a track record of installing smartcards on other public transport systems — in fact many of them tendered for the Myki project — but our government ended up with a system to be built from the ground up.

My view is this was the biggest factor in the delays to implementation, all the technical problems along the way, and the end result of a system that to this day is still lacklustre.

However I don’t think it was necessarily the biggest factor in the total cost of the system — believe me, software developers don’t get paid that much. No, I suspect the costs are largely down to the size of the rollout. Sydney’s Opal system is based on pre-existing Cubic technology, and is in the same ballpark for cost… however as we shall see, Brisbane appears to have got away with a bargain.

Here’s my comparison table of the different systems around the country:

Main city Melbourne Sydney Brisbane Perth Hobart Canberra Adelaide Darwin
Other areas covered [1] “Commuter belt” area of regional Victoria Newcastle, Blue Mountains, Illawara, Central Coast, Hunter Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast Various regional cities Launceston, Burnie     Alice Springs
System Myki Opal Go Card Smartrider Greencard MyWay Metrocard Tap and Ride card
Web site PTV: Myki Opal TransLink: Go Card Transperth: Smartrider Metro Tasmania: Greencard ACT: MyWay Adelaide: Metrocard North Territory: Tap and Go
Used on Trains, trams, buses Trains, trams, buses, ferries Trains, trams, buses, ferries Trains, buses, ferries Buses Buses Trains, trams, buses Buses
Vendor Kamco Cubic Cubic Wayfarer / Parkeon iNit Parkeon / Downer EDI ACS  
Introduced [2] 2009 (regional buses, suburban trains), 2010 (trams/buses), 2013 (regional trains) 2013 (ferries), 2014 (other modes) 2008 2007 2009 2011 2012 2014
System cost [3] $1.5b over ten years $1.2b over 15 years $134m for ten years plus share of secondary revenues $35m $4m $8m $42m  
Buy / top up: Online [4] Y Y Y N / Y N / Y Y N / Y N
Buy / top up: Retail/Info Centres Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Buy / top up: Stations Y N “Many” N / Some NA NA N / Y (on trains) NA
Buy / top up: Buses Y N N / Y N / Y N / Y N N N / Y
Buy / top up: Trams N N N NA NA NA N / Y NA
Buy / top up: Tram stops Some N Some NA NA NA N NA
Buy / top up: Ferries NA N Y N / Y NA NA NA NA
Buy / top up: Other     Some bus stations         Bus interchanges
Railway stations 218 (Melb metro) + 50 (V/Line Myki) 308 149 70 (19 have top up machines) 0 0 (108 trains) 0
Tram fleet 487 13 16 stations 0 0 0 21 0
Bus fleet 1753 (Melb metro only) About 5000 2078 1354 218 417 1080 312
Retail outlets 800 1765 625 (including stations) 61 17 33 289 3
Card cost [5] $6 Free $10 (refundable) $10 Free? $5 $5 $0
Minimum topup [6] $1 $10 (Online: $40) $5 $10 ($20 for BPay/Auto) $5 $5 $5 $20 weekly / FlexiTrip
Single use alternative ticket [7] No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Peak discount compared to single use ticket [8] NA None, but caps apply 30% 15% 20% 35% 35% 33%
Off-peak discount compared to single use ticket 30% for trips of over 2 zones only 30% on trains only 45% 15% 20% 50% 35% 33%
Smartcard fare: inner suburbs to CBD peak [9] $3.58 $3.30 $3.35 $2.47 $2.40 $2.84 $3.39 $2.00
Daily cap [10] Yes – 2 x 2-hour fares $15 No (except Seniors) $11.80 (after 9am) $9.60, or $4.80 after 9am $8.60 No No
Daily cap: weekends/public holidays $6 Sat $15, Sun $2.50   $11.80 $4.80 $5.19 No No
Weekly cap [11] No, but can pre-load a Pass 8 journeys, or $60 9 journeys No No No, but has monthly cap (40 journeys) No No
Weekly/monthly pass fare [12] Yes: week, or 28-365 days No No No No No 28 day pass Weekly $20
Free transfers [13] Yes, 2 hours (longer for regional) 1 hour, same mode only 1 hour Yes, 2-3 hours ? Yes, 90 minutes Yes, 2 hours Yes, 3 hours
Phone/Online topup speed [14] Up to 24 hours Up to 60 mins Up to 48 hours BPay only. 3-5 days Up to 48 hours 1-2 days Overnight NA
Auto topup [15] Yes Yes Yes Yes. 10% extra discount Yes Yes. 5% discount Yes No
Card read speed [16] Slow to medium Fast Fast Fast        
Gate paddle speed Medium Medium Slow Fast NA NA   NA

Got any corrections for me? Please, send me an email or leave a comment below!

Copious footnotes!

[1] Most of the systems cover more than just the main metropolitan area. Myki covers regional rail out to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and Gippsland, and the local bus routes in those areas. Sydney’s Opal similarly covers the entire area of the Sydney urban and intercity rail network, which includes Newcastle (the area, but not the central station, which has now closed), Bathurst and other regional centres. Perth’s Smartrider covers local buses in places like Bunbury and Geraldton, but not the regional services that will get you there.

[2] Prize for the most prolonged rollout goes to Myki: early 2009 for regional town buses, but not active on V/Line until mid-2013, and in that time, the scope was reduced to remove short term tickets, purchase/top-up on trams, and long distance V/Line trains and coaches.

Myki rollout

[3] I had a lot of trouble finding comparable figures for system cost. Some only include the initial rollout, but not running costs. Some such as Brisbane had a provision for the system supplier sharing “secondary revenues” if/when the system was able to be used for other purchases, though this document says the cost was $99 million to establish, and $53 million in running costs to 2016.

[4] I think the biggest factor in the system cost is the size of it — the number of devices — thus I’ve tried to compare them via the places you can buy and top-up/recharge cards, and the fleet and system sizes.

They are quite different, for instance in Perth you can use the card on all services, but there are only a few railway stations where you can top up, and also far fewer retailers than in Melbourne or Sydney. (I found figures indicating Smartrider has a total of about 4,000 smartcard devices, where Myki has about 20,000.)

The number of railway stations and the size of the tram and bus fleets is also significantly different.

Note that in Adelaide, the readers are on the trains, not the stations (except for Adelaide station). Perth’s rail network has 70 stations, but only 19 have top up machines. In Brisbane (Gold Coast), the trams have their readers on the stations, not on the vehicles.

Of course, Myki has to have more devices: touch-on and off is so slow that extra readers have had to be installed at railway stations to minimise queuing and crowds (some have been added as recently as last month), and the lack of a short term ticket or any way of buying a ticket on a tram means a wider retail network is important.

Sydney’s system still appears to be in flux, so it wouldn’t surprise me if card purchase and top-up becomes more widely available in future.

(See also: my conclusion at the bottom of the post.)

Perth SmartRider and paper ticket vending machines - Esplanade station

[5] The cost to a passenger of just getting a card varies widely, with Brisbane and Perth cards costing $10 a pop.

[6] In most cities, the smartcards are very much geared at regular users, who don’t mind having more money on their card than a departing tourist would. Perth and Sydney in particular are quite restrictive in their topups amounts.

[7] As has been noted before, Melbourne is one of the only big cities anywhere in the world which doesn’t have some kind of paper/single use ticket available for use.

[8] In most cities using the smartcard instead of buying paper tickets gains you a discount; as much as 35% in some cases less than the paper fare cost in peak hour, and 50% off-peak. In Melbourne the discount was originally intended to be the difference between the old single tickets and the 10 x 2 hour fares, which in the last year of single fares was about 15%. Scrapping single use tickets meant everybody moved to the discounted fare. (Melbourne now has no off-peak discounts, though previously there was a hard-to-obtain 2-zone off-peak ticket, which was much the same price as the 10 x 2 hour discount.)

[9] I’ve also compared the base level fare for a peak-hour adult inner-suburban trip. I’ve excluded very short trip fares to try and make it reasonable comparable, but it’s very difficult to do this properly without digging around and ensuring you’re comparing trips of a similar distance.

Of course, fare prices are not a direct product of the Smartcard system, but the fare policies in place. But the two are closely linked.

[10] Daily caps help people who use public transport for lots of their travel, not just to and from work. Thus they help encourage non-commute trips, and is good for tourists. Some of the systems have no daily cap, but note most of those that do apply a simple dollar amount — apart from Myki, which is more complicated, though to an extent this will be wasted from tomorrow when Melbourne trips are capped at the zone 1 amount.

Brisbane’s Go Card has a 2 journey daily cap only for Seniors, which indicates it could be implemented for more users if they wanted to. Most systems will also string together multiple trips into a single paid journey if you travel continually, so you don’t end up paying for lots and lots of fares in a single day — though in Sydney you may, if you keep changing modes.

[11] As noted yesterday, Myki was originally intended to have a weekly cap. The other systems largely don’t, though Sydney and Brisbane have a X journeys then free policy, which can be rorted by taking short lunchtime trips early in the week to reach your quota by about Wednesday. It’s reflective of the simplistic capping in those systems, and arguably starves the system of funds from long distance commuters who would use the system anyway if the cap was less generous. A more intelligent weekly cap would be better.

[12] Only Myki and Adelaide’s MetroCard offer a pre-loaded Pass system. In Myki’s case, this reflecting the old Metcard structure, which in turn goes back to the paper tickets of the 80s and earlier. This is a double-edged sword: many people find the difference between Myki Money and Pass confusing, but fare policy-wise there’s probably no better way to encourage people to use public transport more.

Adelaide offers a 28 day pass only, but interestingly offers a system called Commuter Club, which similar to Melbourne’s Commuter Club, offers discounted fares if issued via employers/organisations.

[13] Sydney’s system falls down on free transfers: if you want to change modes, you get stung for another fare (as well as the time penalty of the transfer). There are rumours this will change in the future, but who knows.

[14] Many people have complained about Myki’s slow online top-up speed of up to 24 hours, but in fact Myki faster than most of the other systems. Only Sydney, with a time of up to 60 minutes, seems to have got this right.

[15] All the systems except Darwin’s (which isn’t really a Smartcard) offer an automatic top-up system, automatically adding value to your card when it reaches a pre-determined level, then taking those funds from your linked bank account.

Myki’s auto top-up started off flawed (it would block your card if the payment didn’t work, forcing you to send the card in for unblocking — this has now been fixed) but in my experience works fine now, and is very handy — I never have to worry about topping-up my kids’ cards. Some of the other cities encourage auto top-up by providing you bigger fare discounts.

[16] My non-scientific evaluation of the speeds of some of the systems. Myki is hopelessly inconsistent, except for the new gates recently installed at a handful of locations. From limited use of the other systems, they all seem much more responsive, though in Brisbane the card read was fast, while the gates seemed to open up quite slowly, which could be problematic at peak times.

Some other notes

  • Sydney — still in flux. Limited card purchase opportunities at the moment, but seems to be changing. Hopefully intermodal transfers will become free in the future.
  • Perth — Very limited card purchase or on-system top-up opportunities, which helps explain the cheap cost of implementation.
  • Tasmania — Card is set to a “Default” trip (eg home to work and vice-versa). Anything else requires resetting by bus driver. Arguably it’s more of an electronic purse system than a Smartcard. Ditto Darwin.

Why is there no combined system?

The tollways of Australia have got their act together: an eTag used on Melbourne’s tollways can be used in Sydney and Brisbane, for example, and vice versa. Why not public transport smartcards?

Turned out there was a working party trying to get this to happen: the National Ticketing and Tolling Working Group. It seems to have all been too hard to get the cooperation of the various state bodies:

In Australia, while Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne have each selected the same card interface, there is no immediate prospect of achieving smartcard data, reader or back-end interissuer interoperability. Efforts by the National Ticketing and Tolling Working Group (NTTWG) and Standards Australia are effectively on hold while each city rolls out its own vendor-specific implementation.

National Smartcard Framework – case studies (December 2008) – page 10

It’s like the 21st century version of the break of gauge.

Myki, Smartrider, Go card, Opal public transport smartcards

Which system is best?

Would Victoria embark on Myki again now, knowing the outcomes in terms of costs, delays, reliability and speed? I doubt it.

At one stage they tried to claim we had to have a system built from the ground up, because none of the others could cater to the state’s requirements in terms of our public transport system being large and including multiple modes. I always found that very difficult to believe — plenty of other systems handle big multi-modal systems with ease. I suspect there is some truth in that pre-existing systems may not have handled our structure of unlimited use Passes so well, though Adelaide seem to have managed.

So which system is best? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer.

Ideally you’d want the ubiquity of Myki, the single ticket alternative and speed of (any of the others), and the cheap system establishment costs of Brisbane or Perth.

In fact Brisbane is probably the closest thing to being a extensive big multimodal smartcard system that was relatively cheap to implement. Even if it were doubled in size and cost, it would still come out at about a fifth of the Melbourne system cost, though it’s unclear if that reflects the real cost or if it was just a great deal for the government, and Cubic was betting on that extra revenue to come through.

Taking on an existing system also requires any city to change its fare structure somewhat to suit the ticket system — but Melbourne ended up making compromises in that department anyway.