#Myki: Agonisingly slow compared to other systems (but may improve soon, hopefully)

I’ve remarked upon this before in comparisons with Perth and Brisbane, but of all the flaws of Myki, the top one must be the inconsistent and slow response times.

Marcus Wong has captured this superbly in a video:

Note that many of the people in the queue know that you can touch before the gate has fully closed… but it doesn’t help because the readers respond slowly.

Contrast this to the near-instant response shown for a Pasmo gate in Japan:

All is not lost! New fare gates got installed at Mitcham last week, and the early reports indicate they are much more responsive than existing Myki gates. In part this seems to be because they don’t display the card balance on the way through (preventing people slowing down to look at it as they pass through), but it also seems the implementation is just much better:

(Video: Kenneth Webb)

The new gates will also be installed at Springvale and Richmond soon. Hopefully they’re not too expensive and are successful enough to be rolled out to the busiest stations on the network soon.

It appears the new gates have been provided by Vix-ERG, who ran the Metcard system. Perhaps, unlike Kamco, which implemented Myki but didn’t have experience in such things previously, perhaps they… well, know that they’re doing have more experience with ticket systems.

Last night I caught a bus, and noted how many stops were longer than necessary as people touched-off. Even without equipment upgrade/replacement, hopefully that problem (and a similar one at suburban railway stations in the evening peak) will largely disappear from January, when single zone fares take over in Melbourne… if PTV play it right and educate people.

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.

15 replies on “#Myki: Agonisingly slow compared to other systems (but may improve soon, hopefully)”

“how many of the people in the queue know that you can touch before the gate has fully closed”.
Doesn’t matter Daniel. I always wait until the gate closes in front of me so that I know for sure that the gate has opened because I touched on, not because the person in front touched on and I simply followed in their footsteps. if you don’t touch on properly and follow thru behind someone there is no simple way to check that your card has touched on.

@Roger, try it sometime. It works, and I’ve had no issues with doing it. There’s no need to wait for the gate to close; just wait for it to say to touch your card. When you do, you will still see the usual “touched-on” acknowledgement on the gate’s display so you know it’s worked. You’ll also find, as with the top video above, that the response is so slow, the gate will have closed by the time it responds and re-opens.

The only potential time it could cause a problem is if someone is coming the other way, and they seems to have resolved that by having most gates set to one direction at a time only.

(Note, I’ve re-worded that sentence in the blog post slightly to be clearer.)

After travelling to Japan several times, it was incredibly frustrating to see the Brisbane “Go Card” and Melbourne’s myki system the way they are. Haven’t seen the new Sydney Opal but have set expectations to low. Surely – whoever starts these projects locally would spend a few weeks looking for the best technology available, then have that implemented here? It seems not.

Interesting point about the Japanese example: there’s no gate!

Or maybe there is a gate, not fully visible in the video, that stands open unless it needs to shut in in response to an invalid card? That would speed things up and reduce wear and tear. The gate would need to be far enough in front of the reader for it to have time to shut, if necessary, before you pass it.

Of course that arrangement would be limited to major stations where there’s enough supervision to discourage people from walking through without tapping.

Re: touching off buses: buses should have all doors boarding and alighting, with several machines set up so that people can start touching off as soon as the bus has left the previous stop.

@John – There is a gate, it’s just not closing because so many people are touching off so rapidly (I’ve used these gates). Like automated doors at shopping centres, they don’t bother shutting if they sense that someone else is about to come through. I imagine “tailgaters” aren’t much of a problem in Japan, but I also imagine if you tried to walk through quickly without putting a card down it would try and shut and/or make some kind of a sound; so providing someone is about you’ll likely get caught.

I noticed the other day people some people just shove the myki gate open. It seems they’re not particularly strong and a decent jerk opens one side at least allowing people enough room to pass through. I don’t remember this being a problem with Metcard gates, although they were much more prone to tailgaters.

I went to Springvale station just an hour ago to check out the new gates, they’re amazing, so much better than the old ones, I even sent feedback to PTV asking them to speed up the rollout.

Perhaps a silly question by why have gates at all? Can’t we simply have readers on pedestals like at Oakleigh, Huntingdale, Bentleigh? Caulfield and Southern Cross are truly painful to navigate through, especially at peak times.

Good point Roger. I have an online account with Myki. So the LCD on the gate could flash “hello Jacob” so that you know you have touched on.

And if all these cards do is to deduct money and remember the card number, we should be able to use cards from interstate. They have the same currency in the other states of Australia!

With the Japanese machines, the gates are open by default. they only close if you try and pass through without paying or not having enough money on your card. To avoid low card embarassment you can see your balance after you’ve passed through the gate on the reader for the opposite direction. They close fast and hard (ouch! even though they are padded) and buzz loudly as well as lighting up to show which gate has closed.
You would need a different design for the Myki gates from Marcus Wong’s video as if you hit one of them at normal walking pace it would really hurt.

Yes! That’s a good idea! A display AFTER the gate, so you can actually read it as you walk through, rather than a display before the gate which requires you to stop and look at it. I think the Paris Metro gates might have a display up on top so that you can see it as you walk, instead of stopping.

The current gate design (yet to see the new ones) has too short a gap between the reader and gate. At normal walking pace, if you hold your myki on the reader and keep going, you’re hitting the gate by the time your myki has beeped and you’re lifting your hand away.
A faster gate time, or longer channel before the gate would help (such that you don’t have to stop and wait for the gate to open, breaking the walking flow).

That’s interesting Tien, because last night the Mitcham gates didn’t work when I tried touching my closed wallet to them (with other cards nearby). On any other reader, doing this causes the ‘Multiple cards detected’ rubbish, but on these gates it resulted in no operation at all. When I opened the wallet to do my usual compensate-for-Myki’s-poor-design touch-on action, it worked.

It was faster than other gates, but still not as fast as Oyster, which reacts before the card has even touched the reader (and therefore while the card is still moving).

Dave, I don’t think these gates would work with non-stop walk-through scanning just by increasing the gap between reader and gate – the problem is the time they take to register, rather than the time the motors take to move the gate. At normal walking pace, I would break my wrist trying to maintain motion while scanning.

Yes, as per Alex’s comment… the Japanese system has an ‘open by default’ philosophy. And it is rare to see the gates close. The Japanese have it right. If we can spot the benefits of that system one would hope that the people responsible for our system knew this long ago….

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