I finally got around to going to look at the new Myki gates at Springvale station the other day. They’ve also been installed at Mitcham, and will be put in at Richmond soon.
From what I’d heard, they are faster than the existing older Myki gates installed in 2012-13.
The stories were true. They are faster.
Looking at the video frame-by-frame, my totally unscientific comparison shows that the new gate is about twice as fast as the old one.
|Card touches to reader||0.00||0.00|
|Reader acknowledges success||0.33||0.73|
|Gate starts to open||0.53||1.06|
|Gate fully open||0.83||1.47|
The older Myki gates are notorious for inconsistent speeds, with just the reader response sometimes taking several seconds — the video above shows the gate on a “good day”. Response times are arguably the Myki system’s biggest single problem (of many), affecting hundreds of thousands of users every day, causing long queues at many stations.
Hopefully these new gates will be consistently fast. At present they’re showing the kinds of speeds the system should have had all along, and more in line with other smartcard fare systems such as Brisbane’s Go Card and Perth’s Smartrider.
The new design omits displaying the balance and fare, I assume to discourage people from lingering. They can instead check their balance at a vending machine or Myki Check (blue reader), as well as online of course.
The new gates seem to have been provided by Vix (ERG), who ran the Metcard system, and also developed much of the Hong Kong Octopus smartcard system. Perhaps, just perhaps, they know more about designing and implementing public transport ticketing smartcards than Kamco, who implemented most of Myki.
Vix also seem to have taken over maintenance of the system in recent weeks, though a full re-tender of the operating contract is expected to go ahead in coming years.
It might also be that this is the first example of the Victorian government’s (under Labor) insistence on “open architecture” — that is, that the various components of the Myki system had to have documented interfaces, so that other vendors could come along later and build on it incrementally. But it’s not clear how this came about — did the Coalition approach Vix, or did Vix come up with a proposal?
What’s unknown is if more new faster equipment will replace the thousands of existing slow devices around the network. While it’d be nice to see consistently faster response times, it would cost a small fortune — on top of an already extremely expensive system.
What might be better, as I’ve raised before, is for someone (Vix?) to re-write the software that runs on the existing hardware.
Bonus video: 30 seconds of the gates in use at Springvale, so you can see my fast touch wasn’t a fluke. Note the curious occurrence, about 20 seconds in, of the lady who touches both left and right — apparently to let her friend through, presumably with a different card, as you’d expect the gates to reject the one card being used twice. Also note the double-width gate has been left open, in the absence of a staff member.
- The Age 15/11/2012: New myki card readers no faster — based on Marcus Wong’s blog post, where he found the original Myki-only gates were no faster than the hybrid Metcard/Myki gates they replaced — note his timings included time taken to get through the gate
- PTV 28/4/2014: Introducing next-generation myki gates