Myki: Mostly works

Further to the post on whether Myki should be scrapped or not and taking the lead from others online, here’s a quick video of my interactions with Myki over the past 24 hours.

I missed a couple: the touch-on on the bus because I had to run for it and didn’t have time to get the phone camera running, and a touch-off at Southern Cross station because my phone decided it was running out of juice and cut the filming just before the touch.

I also didn’t film the Authorised Officers checking my card this morning on the train, which seemed to work fine.

I stayed on the train an extra stop this morning so I would go into zone 2 to see if it charged appropriately.

Overall Myki mostly worked. All the readers worked (unlike one Metcard validator spotted at Bentleigh Station), and the charges incurred were all correct: $2.94 yesterday (zone 1, 2-hour adult fare), and $3.00 today (for two-hours travel in zones 1+2 — this is the Weekend Saver fare, which is also applicable on public holidays if you’re using Myki, but is not available on Metcard).

It wasn’t perfect. What I’d consider to be minor problems included inconsistent/slow reader times, quiet readers, and it took three goes to touch-off on the bus because the reader got confused by the presence of my RFID Mastercard in the other side of the wallet. (No other reader, including the one I used to touch-on on the bus, had this problem.)

It’s been rumoured that speed problems are due to the small number of users; some readers after a period of inactivity may need to “wake-up” again. I don’t recall if this has ever been officially confirmed, nor do I think it’s a valid excuse, unless there’s some tremendous benefit to having the devices work this way. But if it is true, then it makes sense that if everybody was using Myki it wouldn’t usually happen except for first thing in the morning.

(There are other design issues, but I’m not addressing those in this post.)

Oh, and a choice quote (well, a paraphrase, I don’t remember the exact words) from a friend yesterday at dinner: Myki works okay now that I know to touch the card, not swipe it.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

11 replies on “Myki: Mostly works”

“Myki works okay now that I know to touch the card, not swipe it”

The use of the terms “touch on” and “touch off” didn’t give it away then? :)

Firstly the appearance of the card is really ugly. Whoever approved the design has poor taste.
Yo Myki dude who is monitoring this blog – Heres a million dollar idea for free – licence them in footy club designs and colours. Kids ones with Wiggles on them and teen ones with pictures of Jason Bieber.

Or let me publish my own photo on them of my wife and kids or dog or me nanna. You can do it with gift cards.

Secondly let me add credit to the card by using my mobile phone – If I need to add $20 bucks on the card then let me text an easy number, and wholah that $20 is on the card and charged to my next phone bill or Visa card or whatever option I have agreed to.

Thirdly, why dont you hook up with one of the credit card companies and combine the Myki into a low value transactional value touch and go card
Even if it was just for businesses within the railway network. Such as buying a newspaper or a can of coke at the station.

For the first time since having a Myki I had to use a train today and noticed that when I touched on it told me I was touching off and vice versa when I got to my destination. I realized I had touched on on a tram earlier, but since there’s no need to touch off on a tram my card was confused.

So now I’m home it thinks it’s still touched on. Does that mean the system thinks I’m still on a train somewhere?

@jon, but lots of people eg on radio use terms other than “touch” — such as “swipe” or “scan”. Even the Myki people themselves originally used “scan”.

@SSR, I wouldn’t be surprised if those things happen, but only after the system is fully rolled-out. They don’t need the distractions at the moment.

It’s been pointed out to me that I might get more consistent touch times if I take the RFID Mastercard out of my wallet. I’ll try that in the next few days.

Part of the Swipe/Touch confusion is definitely related to media reports, where journalists insist on using the the word “swipe”. It would also appear a large number of people don’t have experience with RFID Proximity cards for entry in a building for instance which operate under the same principle.

I still use Metcard for the daily commute but Myki for odd trips like on weekends or when the 10 × 2 hourly runs out.

My experience is that the credit top up machines seem to work but the readers are a mixed bag. Had a couple of trips into the city over the Christmas break and found I had to try a couple of readers at Southern Cross and Melbourne Central before the gates opened. Similar story with the readers at suburban stations and on trams. The tram this morning had no functioning Myki readers – all were starting up and resetting themselves over and over again

Still I would guess it would probably be easier to iron out the glitches in Myki at this point in time rather than starting from scratch … probably …

Daniel, I hope PTUA will refund you the 6 cents for making the journey into zone 2 on Monday just to see if Myki worked. Thanks for being our guinea-pig.

SSR, your comments had me in stitches. “Jason” Beiber. And “wholah” (voilà). Excellent!

The confusion over swiping or touching would be eliminated if the readers worked properly in the first place. London’s Oyster system is so fast that you have no time to deliberately either swipe or touch – as soon as the card comes within a few centimetres of the reader, the reader beeps and flashes and you’re done. Myki is the only RFID system I’ve seen that requires you to hold the card stationary for a second or (usually several) more. To compound that demonstration of incompetent design, Myki readers give no indication during their drawn-out communication phase that they have detected your card. Obviously they have, and are just taking ages to read and write data, because if you take it away they say “try again” or something similar. An instant display of the word “scanning” would be a good band-aid until the speed is improved to Oyster standards.

The programming on the top-up machines is too slow as well. It takes a long time to do its work, as demonstrated by you having to speed up the video. And at the end it asks if you want a receipt. I say ‘no’, and it prints something anyway. If I say ‘yes’ it prints two statements. If I want no receipt, why would I want an additional piece of litter not technically a ‘receipt’?

Finally, I’m not taking other cards out of my wallet so that the badly designed Myki system can distinguish its own card from others. It needs to be made to work properly. It’s not an issue using other RFID cards with other RFID readers such as door locks.

@Philip, I sped up the film only during the insertion of all the coins – I was dumping all the small change I had on me. It would have been laborious to watch me putting in each coin one by one… especially as I had to dig some of them out of a deep/not-very-accessible pocket.

@Philip; I sent some feedback about the two receipt issue.
Apparently the “do you want a receipt” relates to the ‘myki’ receipt; the second which will always spit out is the credit/EFT receipt – apparently this is required by law for eft transactions.
I don’t know why they don’t just remove the “do you want a receipt” option completely, and combine the myki and EFT receipts together (as the supermarkets have done for yonks). Simple and no confusion.

Alternatively, they need to spell it out in the question or just after (ie, EFT receipt now printing)…. but user-friendliness is not myki’s forte (ie, who cares if 2.94 was deducted… tell me I’m on a Z1 2hr, and it expires at 11am for crying out loud!!)

The other interesting issue with myki in my book is the use of myki money vs myki pass.

It turns out if a pass is on your myki, it’s activated straight away. Good luck if you did an online transaction, it takes 3 days to process, then activates on Friday on your outbound commute, and you don’t typically use PT on w/ends.

So you pretty much waste the first 3 days of your monthly this way, instead of being able to travel on a 2-hour ticket that Friday. This is a feature, not a bug… myki doesn’t really find the best fare for you in this case…. despite all the advertising.

Surely it would be better that if you have an (unused) pass on your myki, when you touch on it beeps, asks you to touch again straight away if you want to activate the pass, or do nothing to stay on myki money? This would not require any extra buttons, would enable people to decide to start a pass or not (especially useful for the online purchases, but also if you want to get the pass purchase out of the road on a Thurs/Fri, but activate Monday, etc)

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