There’s now proof that the introduction of Myki will actually slow down trams. The Libs FOI’d the test figures, which found that:
…if 20 passengers join a tram and another 20 alight at the same stop, the predicted average time a tram would be stationary was 38 seconds under the new myki smartcard compared to 33 seconds with the current Metcard tickets.
So tram trips will be even slower than today. Ain’t technology grand!
The Transport Ticketing Authority was warned about this. I’ve checked my notes, and the PTUA flagged it with them as early as November 2004. (And more publicly in 2006.)
The root cause of this mess would appear to be the government’s desire to get super-accurate patronage figures from the ticketing system. That’s what they wanted from Metcard, which resulted in the (unnecessary) rule that those with a valid ticket re-validate on every trip, even if there’s no staff member there to verify that they do so to prove they’ve paid. Even if everyone did it though, it doesn’t work because you can’t tell where people get off the vehicle, and in the case of the trains, at bigger stations you have no idea what train the person then boarded, unless they have to use the ticket to get out a gate at the other end.
Of course they also want it so that the system can figure out how many zones you travelled through, even though only a couple of trams venture outside zone 1, and most bus and tram trips are relatively short and likely to include one zone.
So what’s the solution? Here’s one scenario:
(Interjection: The following is not necessarily PTUA policy.)
Well for a start, stop thinking a ticketing system is also nirvana for the bean counters. Reality is the most effective way to get accurate stats is still to send out real humans to count passengers. Enabling vehicle drivers to easily report crowding levels on their specific services would also help.
Given that most trips on trams and buses are not long distance, they could remove the scan-off requirement, and make them zone-free: that is, charge the cheapest zone fare (a zone 2 fare, which is also broadly the cost of the City Saver fare) on trams and buses (except the Eastern Freeway buses, which for those travelling into the city are the equivalent of a two-zone train journey) or if the passenger also uses a train during the same two-hour period, charge them just for that instead.
This would also remove the anomalies of buses and trams that are in different zones to their connecting services, discouraging their use, and the sting where travelling a couple of hundred extra metres down the road doubles your fare.
And the bottom line is it would be simpler, easier and quicker for passengers.
Which is why it won’t happen, of course.