So here’s what I’ve found while trying out Myki in the last week or two.
On the day it was announced it was being switched-on for trains, I ordered cards for my kids.
(I should note that I still recommend the general public do not use it, unless they’re looking for trouble. Me? I am looking for trouble. By all means order one while they’re free — though the free offer is expected to be repeated later — but stick it in the drawer until the system works properly.)
The cards arrived a few days later, and had the correct names printed on them, and came with the correct cover letters. Apparently some people still haven’t received their cards, and a lot of people got the wrong cover letters.
Using the cards
We’ve been trying the cards out, and they seemed to work okay.
Most of the Myki vending machines we’ve encountered (apart from day one) have worked for checking balances, and adding money via cards or cash. I like being able to dump all my silver (except five cent coins, and as long as I have a dollar or more) into the machines.
Mind you, about a tenth of stations have no vending machine yet, including some major interchanges like Box Hill, South Yarra, Frankston and Ringwood. It’s because Metcard machines are in the best spots. But given most of them are Premium stations, where staff can sell Metcards, I can’t figure out why they haven’t replaced one of the Metcard machines with a Myki machine at each location.
The scanners for touching-on and off have worked fine. Sometimes they’re very quick, other times still a little slow. Inconsistent. And the beeps are so quiet you can barely hear them.
It does seem to work from within a wallet, as long as you place it flat on the reader, it’s in closest side of the wallet, and there’s only one Myki card in there.
And the city station gates that have been retrofitted with Myki readers? Very inconsistent. Sometimes they work fine. Other times they work but only after an agonising delay. And in two cases they haven’t worked at all, and I’ve gone to find another gate to find to use. (Just to add to the confusion, it appears that not all gates have had Myki readers installed. Some still have their old Metcard X-Press yellow dot readers on them. Down the track all the gates will get replaced with new Myki ones.)
I’ve kept an eye on the charges, of course. So far I haven’t seen any errors. Yesterday I even tested a trip entirely in the zone 1/2 overlap (which should be charged at the cheaper zone 2 rate of $2.02) followed by another into zone 1 (which should switch me from the zone 2 fare to the zone 1 fare of $2.94, eg adding another 92 cents). It worked correctly.
However one of the failings of the scanner design is that while they show you the cost of the fare you’ve been charged, they don’t tell you what the fare is (eg two-hour zone 1), or when the two-hour block expires (so you know how long you can travel before you get charged more).
The web site
But where the system all falls down, apart of course from it not being valid for use on trams and buses (fun and games for those train users advised to catch trams and buses when rail services are suspended), is the supporting web site and the call centre.
The web site has been hopeless, particularly in the first few days when it seemed unable to cope with demand.
And even when it’s working, there are all sorts of niggly things about it, for instance if you request a PDF of transactions, it doesn’t just produce it, but emails it to you later. Sometimes much later.
It’s also replete with bad design. When you enter an address, it validates the suburb name, and if you get it wrong (against the official Australia Post spelling) it rejects it, with no clues as to what it should be. For instance, spell “Glenhuntly” without the space (the same way the station name is spelt, but different to the official spelling) and it’s rejected. Many web sites will show you a dropdown list to choose your suburb based on the postcode. Not this one.
Apparently it will also reject where a space has been typed at the end of a name (fair enough, but the prompts don’t really tell you what went wrong), and characters in names such as apostrophes and hyphens (so if your surname is O’Doherty-Smith, you’ll have to misspell it). Very sloppy.
Some parts of the web site don’t work in some browsers — for instance the Account sections don’t work with Google Chrome and I’m told have problems with some versions of Safari.
And some pages are really kludgey. The transaction list defaults to showing you the first activity that ever happened on your card, rather than the most recent, and also defaults to showing only five things at a time.
The registration problem
But the biggest problem I’ve personally run into is this:
Despite the kids’ cards having been ordered as registered cards, on my account, and the cover-letter stating they were registered, they did not appear on the web site under my account.
After we’d tried them out, I went online to add them to my account, eg register them again — which it let me do, even though the cards already should have been registered.
When I added Jeremy’s card to my account, I goofed. I mis-interpreted the prompts and accidentally got his card registered to me. The web site now thinks I am both the account holder (correct) and the cardholder (incorrect).
I realised my mistake in time to do Isaac’s card the correct way.
The web site includes no way of fixing Jeremy’s card. I’m not even sure of what the legal status of the card is — is it registered to him, as that’s what was requested at the time of ordering, his name is physically written on the card, and he was the first to use it? Or is it registered to me, as the web site (and presumably the Myki database) believes? Note that it’s a child’s concession card. I can’t legally use it.
Last Friday I rang up the Myki call centre to see if it could be rectified. The operator was attentive, but clearly had a different view of all the data to that shown on the public web site. Which meant it took about 15 minutes to explain to him precisely what the problem was. And then he spent another 15 trying to fix it.
In the end he said he couldn’t do it, that he would lodge a service request to get it fixed. Fair enough. (I’ve heard of other people ringing up for similar problems, and the call centre has said they can’t fix it, and will send a new card instead, which just seems ridiculous.)
Several days later, I got an email from them, which I thought would be telling me it was resolved. But it bore no resemblance to the problem that had been flagged — it was a form letter telling me how to get a free Myki. Completely useless, and really irritating, as obviously whoever sent the response has ignored whatever the call centre bloke asked for, and treated both of us like idiots. Not impressed.
And the PDF report of transactions? I’m still waiting for that.
Mostly working on trains, but some improvements needed, and a LOT of work needed on the web site and support services.