I remind any journalists reading that as ever, my personal blog may not represent the PTUA’s views.
In the papers today, news of the continuing rollout of Myki, and moves to get more people switching off Metcard:
Herald Sun: When it comes to myki, like it or lump it
The Age: The end is nigh for Metcard
More detail of what’s happening
Here’s some more detail from the information I’ve seen…
Vending machines will be activated for card sales (sounds like it’ll be full fare Mykis only, which may cause some issues for new concession users, including children. Probably a fraud prevention measure. Concessions will have to be bought from a human, probably requiring presentation of entitlement.)
Starting in February, retail outlets (primarily 7/11s) will start to sell Myki and do topups. They’re switching from Metcard, eg no more Metcard sales from those outlets.
130ish part-time staff to be recruited (eg Myki Mates) to help passengers during the transition. (It appears all of the previous mob, who gained some significant knowledge and experience, were not kept on. Hopefully they can get some of the same people back.)
Weeklies/Monthlies will no longer be sold at station Metcard machines or booking offices from March 26th or thereabouts, and given retail outlets will be switching over, that’ll mean they effectively disappear from sale.
Metcard vending machines to start being withdrawn, starting with “some CBD stations and Williamstown line”. (It’s unclear to me whether this means every machine will disappear from those stations, or if some machines will still be there for 2-hour and daily Metcard purchases — remembering that ultimately this won’t be an option.)
Metcard validators will stay around for some time to come, allowing Metcards to be used up, though the balance may start to change as users switch over.
Will it work?
They can’t run the two ticketing systems forever side by side, and given the premise that Myki is not being scrapped, and yes, Metcard needs to be removed at some point, this is probably reasonable to push the rollout along, but the concern will be if staff are available where needed.
There seems to be a hint of a “big bang” approach to stopping sales of weekly and monthly Metcards, and they’ll only have enough staff to do about 50-70 locations at a time, so some stations may not have any staff to help when the switch is on in earnest. A better approach would to do line-by-line with staff on hand.
They also need to make sure people realise Myki has an (almost) identically priced unlimited-travel alternative fare to the Metcard Weekly and Monthly tickets, because it appears not everyone is aware.
Still no word of any single use ticket option. No word on fixing things like the identical touch-on/touch-off beeps, which slows people down.
It has emerged that topups will be available on Melbourne buses. This is good, given users in suburbs with no easily-accessible retail outlet, but it’s unclear however if they will restrict the amounts (eg $5 increments as in Brisbane) to reduce instances of people topping up one fare at a time, which would defeat much of the purpose of having a Smartcard system.
But it’s unclear how the transition will be handled for buses and trams. It could get ugly if one day passengers go to board their service without having yet got a Myki and find there is no Metcard option anymore.
Oh, and it’s been mentioned that currently Myki accounts for about 30% of ticket validations in Melbourne, with the system taking about 1.8 million passenger trips per day.
So of course they have to make sure all the equipment is reliable and consistently fast as that load moves from 30% up towards 100%.
- A about a year ago: Herald Sun opinion piece: Keep myki and fix the problems
- …and the counterpoint: Why myki should be scrapped
Hey, maybe if Myki do TV adverts, they should use that Roger Voudouris song… “Get used to it, ‘cos I’ll be around…“