Since I apparently know a bit more about it than the average person, and I keep getting asked about it, here’s what I know about Myki, which for out-of-towners, is the very silly name for the forthcoming public transport smartcard ticketing system, which $494 million of tax-payers money is being spent on, whether we like it or not.
(They officially spell it with a small m. I’m not buying into that — it’s a proper noun, I’ll use a capital M.)
Of course, the following information may change as the system develops. And some of the stuff I’ve been told about it, I can’t pass on. (Not that any of it’s really that juicy.)
They reckon it’s progressing nicely. They’ve started putting the mounting points for the equipment in. They’re going to do a trial in Geelong, before rolling it out further.
They’re likely to send the cards out to people who already have registered tickets, such as student pass holders, possibly Yearly ticket holders, and Seniors Sunday Pass holders. (In fact the latter group have already been told their current passes have been extended until the Myki tickets arrive.)
The tickets will be contactless cards, like those used for corporate building keys. You’ll wave them past a scanner, and it’ll beep and a light and/or display will flash. It should work within about 5cm of the reader, so you won’t need to take it out of your bag/wallet/pocket if you can hold it close enough. (Similar contactless cards were meant to be part of the current Metcard system.)
They’re going to want you to scan on and off — as you enter and exit buses, trams and railway stations. That way it records exactly where you travel. If you don’t scan off, you may get penalised by having to pay a “default fare”, which is likely to be the equivalent to what you’d pay if you had gone to the end of the line.
Personally I reckon it’s going to be a real mess, particularly on trams when they’re crowded. (Picture what will happen when you’re squashed in the doorway and you temporarily climb out to let someone off, then climb back in.) This is one reason London went to flat fares on buses and trams.
Registering your ticket will be optional. Obviously if it’s not registered, then if you lose it, it can’t be cancelled, and you’ll lose any money on it.
Fares essentially won’t change. The change will be in ticketing, not fares. In fact they’ve been adjusting the fares over the last couple of years to make the ticketing system simpler — like changing V/Line Return tickets into Dailies, for instance. (In Sydney they’re still trying to figure out how to get Sydney’s notoriously complex fare structure onto a Smartcard. That project’s been going for more than ten years.)
Later they might look at changing fares (such as more use of off-peak tickets), but that won’t happen until the system is in and bedded down.
You’ll still be able to buy monthly and yearly tickets — in fact you’ll be able to pay for 28-365 days in advance.
The way shorter-term tickets work will be slightly different though. You’ll put money on the ticket, then use it up. The basic fare will be for 2 hours, with a system of daily and weekly caps. The daily cap will be priced like a Daily ticket is now. So it’s like using a 10×2 hour; the second validation of the day (beyond the initial two-hour period) makes it into a Daily. On Sundays the cap will be $2.50, in line with the Sunday Saver price.
Likewise there’ll be a weekly cap, so if you use the ticket for a few days in a row, you’ll pay no more than a Weekly ticket. But there’s a catch. The current plan is for the weekly cap to apply only from Monday to Sunday. So if you use the system for 6-7 days over two “calendar” weeks (and not on any other days during those weeks), you’ll pay more than you would now if you bought a Weekly.
You’ll be able to check your balance on the scanners, and check and pay extra onto the card at the station ticket machines. There will be some kind of option for occasional users who don’t want a Myki card, eg disposable tickets.
So that’s it in summary. Whether or not the implementation is a complete mess like Metcard was remains to be seen. Given the huge amount of money spent ($494 million over 10 years), let’s hope not.
It won’t do anything for fare evasion (the smartest card can’t force someone on the tram to pay). Given the lack of staff, a lot of stuff won’t change, and you can bet occasional users will still find the machines more confusing than buying a ticket off a human. Hopefully for regular users it will be a little better, but the scan on/scan off thing makes that doubtful.
More information, if you want to read up on it:
- Fares and Ticketing Manual, chapter 7.
- DOI Ticketing
- Myki web site
- PTUA view — spend it on services and staff
Or go to Spencer Street/Southern Cross Station and have a look at the display there.
Update Thu pm. Added picture of a scanner mount.