Myki cards have a four year lifespan. With many cards bought in Geelong in late-2008 and early-2009 now expiring, a number of users are getting replacement cards.
Some are going back to the original retail outlets, post offices in Geelong and Corio, and buying new cards (the cost of which can be refunded as part of the expiry process).
Lo and behold, they’re finding that those new replacement cards also expire this year.
It appears to be because the expiry date of cards sold at retail outlets that don’t have Myki consoles is set during the card distribution stage, and these retailers are still selling stock from 2009.
This explains why cards like my original one expired on 22nd of January 2013 even though it was bought in April 2009. The expiry clock can start ticking before it’s sold.
It’s difficult at this stage to determine how many people are affected. Probably not a huge number, but PTV/Myki are aware of it and are hopefully moving quickly to resolve it.
Update: Evidently cards sold from vending machines don’t have this problem;
it’s unclear how it works with station booking offices and the newer retailers such as 7-11, which have consoles that may encode the cards when they are sold — ditto cards sold at station booking offices and newer retailers, as long as the Myki console is correctly used to initialise the card. One observer has noted that when buying the card, it’s worth ensuring you get a receipt just in case they don’t do this step correctly, as the card won’t function at all if not.
Figures on V/Line’s web site, which summarise the number of people on each train so you can plan your trip to avoid the packed ones, indicate that about three thousand catch the Geelong line each peak hour.
The figures appear to show 100% when the services are over-capacity — eg when people end up standing or sitting in aisles on the trip.
Looking at all the lines, the figures (into Melbourne before 9am; out of Melbourne between 4pm and 6:30pm) are:
- Geelong: AM 2917, PM 3292
- Ballarat: AM 2771, PM 3059
- Bendigo: AM 2612, PM 2572
- Seymour: AM 792, PM 831
- Gippsland: AM 746, PM 859
I knew they’d grown strongly since the Regional Fast Rail upgrades were completed mid last decade, and the 2007 price cut, but I’m almost surprised to see the Bendigo and Ballarat lines up within about 10-15% of the Geelong figures. This probably emphasises why V/Line and the Department of Transport have been so keen on the Regional Rail Link project, to get all the busiest lines on their own tracks within the suburban area.
The Bendigo figures are likely to drop when Sunbury and Diggers Rest stations join the electrified Metro network later this year. This will also free up some carriages to run on other lines.
Obviously off-peak passengers are also affected by line closures, and we don’t have figures for them. To a greater extent than Melbourne suburban services, V/Line services are very concentrated in the peak (trains every few minutes in some cases), but quieter outside it (mostly hourly). Something they could/should do to help spread the peak load is upgrade off-peak frequencies.
PS: I see some real figures have made it into an Age Online story this morning.
I tried Myki for myself on Saturday in Geelong. Bought one for the promotional price of $5 in the special Myki Shop in Ryrie Street and hopped on a bus to the station.
(HQ available if you click through)
Some brief notes on it:
- It worked as advertised. Took $1.80 from my initial $5 balance
- The scanners are slow, much slower than your typical big building door scanner, which does the equivalent job
- The bus driver seemed delighted that three passengers in a row all scanned successfully, commenting “beautiful!”
- As a first timer, I accidentally waved the ticket at the screen initially when getting off the bus. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s done this, though I guess it’s a mistake you’d only make once. Though I wonder how much time others would take to work it out.
I’ve since gone onto the web site and registered my Myki and looked at my transactions. The web site needs some work.
- Despite a lot of the literature (including the ticket) giving the myki.com.au address, this doesn’t actually work. You have to go to www.myki.com.au
- The registration page is pretty clunky
- It doesn’t show you any detail of the transaction except the time and cost. Useful information like the zone(s) or route(s) you used aren’t shown.
I know it’s only the equivalent of beta testing, but given they’ve already pushed it into Geelong and Seymour, with Ballarat imminent, I’d have thought they’d have pretty much perfected it by now.
And while I think it’ll be handy (if it works properly, and if the current design flaws are fixed), I still don’t think it’s worth the huge cost. (At $1.3 billion, which includes building it and running it for ten years, it’s costing every man, woman and child in Victoria about $260 each.)
And I maintain that if they keep scan off, it’s going to cause chaos on Melbourne’s trams at busy times.