In today’s Herald Sun, Paul Mees argues Myki should be scrapped and replaced with a system from elsewhere, such as Perth’s SmartRider.
I argue that while it was a bad idea to build it, it may now be too late to scrap Myki; to do so now may waste $700 million, and it should be kept — but only if problems with it can be fixed cost-effectively.
Equally, a decision to keep myki must only be made if it can be made to work properly, and without going further over budget. We don’t want to be throwing good money after bad.
Slow and inconsistent readers, beeps that can barely be heard, reliability problems with vending machines and cards, slow online transactions, and incorrect charging have all plagued the system, and must be fixed.
So must design problems that make the system unfriendly to use: beeps for “touch-on” and “touch-off” that are indistinguishable, touch-offs on buses resulting in queues at doorways, and a plan for single-use short term tickets to require activation if bought from stations but not on trams and buses (which would inherit a problem from Metcard that enormously confuses occasional users).
I came to this conclusion after considering the key facts that while it’s had problems this year, the system largely works now; and most of the capital costs have already been spent, meaning it would be a huge waste of money to scrap it (and would probably cost more to find a replacement, though Mees disagrees on this).
Of course it makes sense that it’ll be the government’s full audit of the system that will determine what happens from here. Will be very interested to see what it says.
PS. People may have forgotten, but Metcard had big problems in its early years too. What’s that saying? Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.