Commuter Club Myki

Last week I started using my shiny new Commuter Club Myki.

It’s worked well, and as I would expect it… with some exceptions, documented in this short video:

1. It beeps twice at the readers. This is the case at the standalone readers, on trams and buses and at Myki gates (currently seen at Parliament at Melbourne Central) and retro-fitted Metcard (“Frankenbarrier”) gates.

It’s unexpected because two beeps normally means a Concession, and it has me wondering how many people within hearing range think I’m cheating by using a Concession fare. Yearly/Commuter Club Metcards do not do this.

I have enquired about this with the Transport Ticketing Authority. It is unclear when and if it will be fixed.

2. Unexpected credit. Before the March price rise, when travelling on a Zone 1 Pass in Zone 2 on a weekend (or public holiday), the system would use a nominal amount of $2.94 (the Zone 1, 2-hour fare), calculate the difference between that and the weekend daily fare of $3.00, and charge you the result: 6 cents.

Now that the Zone 1, 2-hour fare has gone up to $3.02, one would expect the system to not charge you anything, right? Well it goes one better: it actually charges you minus 2 cents; in other words it credits your account with 2 cents.

Myki credit for travelling in zone 2 on a weekend with a zone 1 Pass

I would call this totally counter-intuitive, and I’m betting it was not as intended. Again, it’s not clear if this will be changed.

(The precise charging is slightly more complicated than as noted above; it apparently goes through a couple of steps before getting to that end result.)

Myki Pass details3. The expiry date.

Never mind. I thought it was wrong and missing a day, but it isn’t, because 2012 is a leap year.

I first used (activated) this pass on Wednesday 16/3/2011. It’s a 365 day pass, which means it should expire at the end of the day on 15/3/2011. The business rules say that the end of the day for the public transport system is 3am, so the precise expiry time should be 03:00 on 16/3/2012.

That’s not what the system is telling me. Both the web site and the on-system readers say 03:00 on 15/3/2012.

I haven’t queried this with TTA yet, but will do so.

None of these are huge issues of course, but while Myki mostly works fine now, it doesn’t exactly instil confidence in the system.

Perhaps it’s little niggly things like this which has the Baillieu government reluctant to make a call on whether they’ll keep or scrap the system.

Realistically, any new system will have problems. Metcard certainly did. If the government keeps it, they can probably get plenty of mileage out of blaming the previous government for it, as long as they can get it working well before the 2014 election rolls around. At that point, if they played it right and it was humming along (which with the right effort, it could be), they can cover themselves in glory by claiming credit for it.

But sooner or later, they have to make the call (whichever way) and get on with the job.

(Thanks to Nathan for tipoffs on the 2 cent credit and the double-beep.)

Update 9:45pm: Removing the stuff about pricing; will put that in another post; it just distracts here.

Update 9:50pm: Thanks to Nathan, figured out the expiry date issue is not an issue.

Update Monday lunchtime: For those playing at home, Myki Commuter Club cards cause a double-beep, but not a flashing light at the Myki-only gates. Marvellous. Inconsistency in its inconsistency.

Update Tuesday morning: The Age: Smartcard miscalculation gives travellers 2¢ worth

Update Tuesday evening: An update from the TTA:

2 cent credit for Zone 1 myki pass customers

myki customers who use a Zone 1 myki pass will see they receive a 2 cent myki money credit when travelling into Zone 2 on weekends.

The 2 cent myki money credit is not an error, but a result of the system working as it should to calculate the correct fare. While it may appear to be a quirky outcome, the fare calculation is the same as that made prior to the recent fare adjustment.

The system calculates the difference between the weekend daily cap and the Zone 1&2 fare, taking into account the fact that the Zone 1 portion of the journey is covered by the customer’s myki pass. In the past this has resulted in a fare of $0.06 and under the current fare structure it results in a fare of -$0.02, or a 2 cent credit.

I had a look in the Fares and Ticketing Manual; it is true that the way the system works doesn’t contradict what it says in there. But it’s still not logical. Claiming it’s exactly to plan is… well, it’s an interesting interpretation of how a cap should work.

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.

13 replies on “Commuter Club Myki”

I know why your pass is saying it will expire on 15 rather than 16 Daniel, and it’s not a malfunction. Have a think about it :)

LOL. At first I thought that change of mind you mentioned hadn’t worked on the day prior to activating your pass. But then the solution LEAPT up at me.

re your first point, about the two beeps. I’m not disputing that the two beeps may be wrong, but I don’t see why you’re bothered by this. Here’s my reasoning:

(a) I’d bet most people within hearing range don’t know what two beeps mean. I didn’t until now.

Even supposing they do…

(b) Why would they assume you’re cheating? There could be lots of reasons why you may be entitled to a concession fare. You could be unemployed, for all they know. You could be on a sickness benefit. You could be studying full time. They have no idea what your personal circumstances are.

(c) Even if they do recognise you from TV or from this website, and wrongly assume you’re cheating – well, that’s their problem. You know you’re not doing anything wrong, so to hell with them. I was in a similar situation in the early days of Metcards. My yearly travelcard was still the old cardboard style for two or three years after Metcards were introduced, and therefore couldn’t be inserted in the validator. I would occasionally receive glares from people on trams when I failed to validate my ticket. I’d just glare right back. I knew I had a valid ticket, but I certainly didn’t owe anyone an explanation. It was none of their business.

(d) The solution to the problem is simple. The TTA should just announce that two beeps means either a concession or a commuter club card. There. Done. No programming changes required.

@Bonnie, I take your point… in fact I think the solution is they should get rid of the double-beep. It’s of no use to anybody. Inspectors use the flashing light on top of the gates, not the beep (which is unlikely to be audible in a busy station). Users know what type of ticket they have, so it’s of no use to them. Instead the beeps should be changed to differentiate between touch-on and touch-off, which is important, particularly as there are documented cases where the passenger and/or the system has got muddled between the two.

Thanks for your research Daniel, by the time I need a yearly pass, hopefully all the bugs will be ironed out.
PS I rang Metro Trains to ask if there is a special timetable next weekend because of the Grand prix and the guy (after conferring with his colleagues) hadn’t heard of the Grand prix – “Is that the one on Phillip Island?” he asked. Where is their call centre, Bangalore?

That’s a good point, Daniel. In fact, come to think of it, one could argue that having a special double beep for concession cards is not only useless, it’s actually insulting to the holders of those cards. To anyone who knows what the different beeps mean, the double beep screams out “hey, here’s a person who is too poor to pay full fare, and the rest of you are subsidising them!”

A person’s concession card status is the business of ticket inspectors and other authorised officers, and absolutely no one else, in my opinion. There is no reason to shout it out to all and sundry as the cardholder validates their myki card.

I’m reminded of my student days, many years ago now, when I was working checkout in a supermarket. Another checkout operator asked over the PA system if a supervisor could come and assist her with processing a food voucher (presumably from the Salvos or some other charity) that a customer had just presented as payment. The poor customer was just mortified, and I was deeply embarrassed on her behalf and angry at the checkout operator’s breathtaking insensitivity.

haha, my myki rarely ever causes the machine to beep when i touch on, so the only thing i would wonder is why your card caused a beep and mine didn’t!

The expiry date is still a surrupticious rip off though, Daniel, because historically a yearly was a yearly – good for a calendar year whether it had 365 or 366 days in it.

Vaughan, you can’t really compare any more because Metcard yearlys are no longer sold (you can only get a yearly with myki), but I’m pretty sure a myki yearly was a little bit cheaper than a metcard one meaning that if it was a leap year you weren’t technically being ripped off.

@Vaughan, unlike with Metcard, Myki Passes are calculated, by number of days, not by year/month.

Last year’s retail prices actually had the 365-day Myki $3 cheaper for zone 1 than Metcard, though checking this year’s prices, they’re identical, $1202.50.

If one paid for an additional day on the Myki Pass (eg the next Pass) to cover the extra day, it’s an extra $3.70. An extra $3.70 every four years is not what I’d call a big deal. Hey, maybe the 2 cent bonus would pay for it!

It’s odd that Yearly Metcards are still listed on the web site, given my understanding is they’re no longer available.

Oddly enough, I was asked to present a concession card today after a AO scanned my Commuter Club myki.

The AO was quite confused when I said I didn’t have a concession card and re-presented my “Full-Card (Fed Sq Pictured) myki”.

He made the comment & showed me that the screen on his portable reader had turned yellow, apparently this meant concession fare.

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