Friday, February 26, 2010

Why Myki should be canned - now

I have given the new Myki "smart card" travelling system a go for a while now.  The large number of major problems with the system - and the manufacturers inability to fix them after over 3 years development and $800+ million - lead me the conclusion that the whole system should be scrapped.

The basic technology architecture of the system is badly flawed, and the functional requirements (such as touching off) are nonsense too.

Here are a few of the issues I have encountered.:
  • Very slow "touch off" response - you have to leave the card on the reader for about a second to get it read.  If you "swipe" the card it won't be read.  This is too slow for long queues of commuters. Possible causes could be substandard readers or network latency.  Both hard to fix.
  • Complex fare structure.  Complexity is bad.  It is expensive to code for and manage.
  • Myki doesn't work on trams.   This is mandatory requirement for an integrated ticketing system.  If I catch a train to work why would I rule out catching a tram during lunch?
  • A poorly designed website.  You have to "purchase credit" for a card you don't have to get to an option to order a card.  The site is confusing to operate and fails basic design principles you would expect an undergraduate to meet.
  • For the huge cost, the system offers very little benefits to public transport users, especially in its current form.  It is actually inferior to the current Metcard system on several counts.
  • Melbourne's public transport users need more train lines, more trains, .more drivers and more frequent services, not a half baked ticketing system that is really designed to fill the pockets of private operators and government coffers.
  • There was no public consultation on the design of or the need for this ticketing system.  

The Bracks Labor government minister Peter Batchelor commissioned the project for reasons best know to the Labor government.  Now its a train wreck.  Let us stop throwing good money after bad and just use the card readers in the current Metcard system - that are there but have never been commissioned.

Update: Apparently Myki is working on a few trams, but use it at your peril.  Ticket inspectors could fine you as it is not "officially working'.  Based on past experience with these inspectors, they could well fine you.  They obviously have instructions to maximise revenue and not consider mitigating circumstances.

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