Saturday, March 21, 2009

Myki in action

Some pictures from a trip to test Myki in Geelong.

Below is a cardboard short term ticket that bus passengers who buy a ticket from the driver will get. It is available in two hour or daily formats. To sell a ticket drivers accept the passenger's money, place a ticket on the driver's console 'platform', enter the type of ticket required via a touch screen and give the passenger their ticket and change.

Like a Metcard bought on board a tram it is pre-validated and passengers do not need to tag off. If they do, the reader displays a cryptic 'Forced tag-off' message. In the literature it is not described as a myki, even though it's based on the same RF-ID based technology. The intention here is to confine the myki brand to the preferred product (ie a pre-purchased card, preferably registered).

Both paper tickets and Metcards have their zone of travel, expiry date and passenger status (full/concession) stamped on it. This means that except where validators fail to print these tickets can be visually checked for validity. Printing also provides reassurance for the passenger, allows them to check their validity off the system and helps them keep their purse or wallet tidy by knowing which tickets should be discarded. Short-term myki ticket have no distinguishing printing at all. Hence passengers must discard used tickets immediately as valid and invalid tickets are indistinguishable from one another once away from a bus, tram or station.

The majority of passenger observed were using this form of ticket.

Below is the full Myki. Users can store one or both types of credit simultaneously; Myki pass (like the existing monthlies but with more flexibility as to period) and Myki money, which is more suitable for those with less regular travel patterns.

The ticket can be topped up online, by linking to a bank account, over the phone or, in the future, at a railway station. You can also top up when boarding the bus, but this only applies to the Myki money portion of the balance.

Bus boarding can be different with Myki. With regular tickets passengers boarded at the front of the bus, passing the driver. Depending on circumstances they alight at either the front and/or rear door.

Geelong buses on Saturday are well-used, with some routes carrying fully seated loads. Late running can occur due to boarding and alighting times. This can be sped if passengers form two lines, with those who just need to scan on to the right and those who need to see the driver (either buy a short-term ticket or add value) to the left. This does not always occur (some passengers on the left may block the right) but more will get used to this as the system matures. Also some drivers will open the rear door and permit passengers to board through both doors, as shown below.

The key thing Myki users need to remember is the requirement to touch on at the start of your journey and touch off at the end of your trip. It is this requirement that allows Myki to handle multiple zones and automatically calculate the 'best fare'.

Validating by quickly passing the card across the reader will not work. Instead the card needs to be held steady near it for a short time. Success in touching on and off can almost be guaranteed by obeying what I will call the 1x1 rule. The 1x1 rule is that you must hold the card no further than one centimetre away from the reader for one second. Further and shorter may work but might not. Tagging on and off will display the fare deducted and the card balance remaining.

Can you keep your card in your wallet and scan, as commonly done in Perth? It didn't work with me, but I saw another passenger do it. So the answer is maybe but it is not recommended.

As noted before, the non-printing Myki system eliminates visual inspection of tickets; something that had been so important with paper and Metcard tickets. The substitute given is users logging in and checking their transaction details over the internet.

They do this by setting up their card for web access. The set up process requires answering a few questions such as your name and date of birth (provided it's after 1910). Assuming you're not a centenarian, you get a username and password to log in.

Logging in gives access to your Myki's transaction activity, though unlike Perth's SmartRider, not its route and travel history. An example is below. You can see that the card started with $5.00. Just because I could an extra $2.50 was loaded while on the bus.

Tagging on deducted $1.80, which is the minimum two hour fare for a local trip. This is in 'Myki money'. The entry for $1.40 initially seems odd as there is no fare for this amount. However it makes sense when it is realised that this is the difference between a daily fare ($3.20) and a two-hour fare ($1.80). Later trips reach the fare cap, which is the daily fare. Hence they change to 'Myki pass' and no further amounts are deducted.

There are several quirks about the information provided about the user's travels online. The first is that the 'scan on zone' and 'scan off zone' columns were empty. The second is that, unlike Transperth's SmartRider, the route of the service travelled on is not recorded. Thirdly the information recorded changes a day after you check it.

This is shown by comparing the transaction record below (inspected 22 March 2009) with the one above (inspected 21 March, 2009). The difference is that the activity after the fare cap came into effect is deleted from the later record. The reason for this is unknown.

The trips taken were very simple. They all took place on one day in one fare zone. The fare cap worked as intended. However there were no 'odd' trips across zone boundaries. These would be interesting to test, particularly where zones travelled do not follow on (due to getting a car lift across a zone boundary). An example might be Geelong - Queenscliff, (car lift) Queenscliff - Marshall, Marshall - Geelong, 3 hour gap, Geelong - Corio etc. The correct fare would effectively be a Zone 4 daily plus whatever extension amount is necessary for the single trip to Queenscliff (Zone 5).

Further information can be obtained from the Myki shop at 129 Ryrie Street. This can be a slightly hard to spot since signage from the shop's legacy as a payday lender is still visible. This also explains the austere counter and the high security screens, but the staff do come out from behind it to coach customers on proper Myki use. While not ideal this should not be held against Myki; Geelong's main street has so many lenders that it would be hard to find a small shop that hasn't been occupied by one at some stage.

Brochures available included:

* Myki is now part of your local bus network (the main brochure)
* Myki is here (general where to buy)
* Students and Myki (for students)
* With Myki your concession comes too (must still carry you concession card to be eligible - just like Metcard)
* Myki registration form
* Myki refund and reimbursement form
* Application for replacement myki

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Blogger Peter Parker said...

The following week Rob visited Geelong and wrote the following account (highly recommended):

7:09 pm  

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