The Age Online reports this morning gates at Flagstaff were opened to clear long queues that had backed up to the escalators. This has also happened several times at Parliament and Southern Cross recently.
It’s a combination of growing patronage, new Myki users swiping or rubbing instead of touching and holding still, and old Metcard gates that respond slowly or not at all to Myki cards, and don’t give feedback to indicate why they won’t open (eg no credit left, or you didn’t touch-on at the start of your trip).
Figures from two weeks ago indicated Myki use was at about 40% of ticket validations. It would have gone up markedly since then, particularly among 9-5 commuters using Weekly/Monthly/Yearly fares (which can no longer be bought on Metcard).
From what I can see, the best way forward is probably to accelerate the rollout. Rip off the bandaid, as it were.
1. Immediately start replacing the old gates with new in the CBD stations. There are limitations with how they do this; it would have to be a bank at a time, but most stations have spots where this can be done, for instance at Flagstaff you could do most of them, leaving the two Metcard gates closest to the booking office alone for now, which is enough during off-peak times, and queues at peak times would help encourage more people to switch.
2. Withdraw Metcard sales of 10×2 hour and 5xDaily tickets, as well as Sunday and Weekend Savers, to shift more people (including occasional users) onto Myki ahead of them being forced to switch when their local Metcard machines get removed (which is problematic; see below).
And to help reduce the instances of overcharging when they do need to open the gates, and also cut the queues at suburban stations in the evenings:
3. Cut the price of 28+ day (Monthly) Myki Passes, to make them more compelling, and let people know they don’t get charged extra if they don’t touch-off. This helps cut queues, and helps encourage more regular use of PT, including off-peak, weekend and evening.
(I don’t necessarily think the removal of Metcard vending machines at stations should be sped up. This part of the rollout is already proving problematic, particularly at unstaffed stations, and needs more thought. But more people, particularly regular users, can be encouraged onto Myki.)