Here’s an inconvenient truth of ticketing: Installing brand new smartcard systems, even established ones from elsewhere, is perhaps not as cheap as one might think.
Some have said instead of developing Myki, Victoria should have bought an existing system like Hong Kong’s Octopus, or London’s Oyster.
The government (TTA) claim you can’t do this. But Auckland is doing it.
Auckland is buying HK’s Octopus. It’s costing them NZ$47 million in capital costs, and is rumoured to be in the region of NZ $65 million for ten years of running costs, so a total of $112 million for the first ten years (about $90 million Australian dollars).
Sounds cheap doesn’t it!
Then I looked at how big the Auckland public transport system is.
If one assumes that the amount of infrastructure and fleet size (and the amount of ticketing equipment that has to be installed) is closely related to patronage, how does it stack up?
Auckland’s total patronage for the 2008-2009 year: 58.6 million trips.
Melbourne’s total patronage for the year ending September 2009: 494.5 million trips. But Myki covers most of regional Victoria too, so you’d have to add 13.2 million V/Line trips, and an unknown (well, I couldn’t find it via a quick search) number of trips on regional town buses. Let’s say a total of around 510 million trips per year, 8.7 times that of Auckland.
So if Auckland’s adoption of Octopus was to handle 8.7 times as many trips, and perhaps cost 8 times as much, it would come in at $720 million for ten years. Perhaps not quite the bargain one might think.
Though still a lot cheaper than the $1.35 billion Melbourne’s Myki will cost for ten years, in fact it’s a little over half the cost.
And because it’s a mature technology, I’m betting it’ll be a much smoother introduction than Myki’s having.
PS. Some people believe the cost of ticketing and fare collection barely covers revenue. This isn’t true; in Victoria public transport fare revenue is around $600 million per year, and growing. Doesn’t mean it can’t be collected more efficiently though.
PPS. Hold off on your comments on your Myki experiences… I’ll post on that in a couple of days.