New Myki gates – about twice as fast as the old ones

I finally got around to going to look at the new Myki gates at Springvale station the other day. They’ve also been installed at Mitcham, and will be put in at Richmond soon.

From what I’d heard, they are faster than the existing older Myki gates installed in 2012-13.

The stories were true. They are faster.

Looking at the video frame-by-frame, my totally unscientific comparison shows that the new gate is about twice as fast as the old one.

Timing (seconds) New Old
Card touches to reader 0.00 0.00
Reader acknowledges success 0.33 0.73
Gate starts to open 0.53 1.06
Gate fully open 0.83 1.47

The older Myki gates are notorious for inconsistent speeds, with just the reader response sometimes taking several seconds — the video above shows the gate on a “good day”. Response times are arguably the Myki system’s biggest single problem (of many), affecting hundreds of thousands of users every day, causing long queues at many stations.

Hopefully these new gates will be consistently fast. At present they’re showing the kinds of speeds the system should have had all along, and more in line with other smartcard fare systems such as Brisbane’s Go Card and Perth’s Smartrider.

The new design omits displaying the balance and fare, I assume to discourage people from lingering. They can instead check their balance at a vending machine or Myki Check (blue reader), as well as online of course.

The new gates seem to have been provided by Vix (ERG), who ran the Metcard system, and also developed much of the Hong Kong Octopus smartcard system. Perhaps, just perhaps, they know more about designing and implementing public transport ticketing smartcards than Kamco, who implemented most of Myki.

Vix also seem to have taken over maintenance of the system in recent weeks, though a full re-tender of the operating contract is expected to go ahead in coming years.

It might also be that this is the first example of the Victorian government’s (under Labor) insistence on “open architecture” — that is, that the various components of the Myki system had to have documented interfaces, so that other vendors could come along later and build on it incrementally. But it’s not clear how this came about — did the Coalition approach Vix, or did Vix come up with a proposal?

What’s unknown is if more new faster equipment will replace the thousands of existing slow devices around the network. While it’d be nice to see consistently faster response times, it would cost a small fortune — on top of an already extremely expensive system.

What might be better, as I’ve raised before, is for someone (Vix?) to re-write the software that runs on the existing hardware.

Bonus video: 30 seconds of the gates in use at Springvale, so you can see my fast touch wasn’t a fluke. Note the curious occurrence, about 20 seconds in, of the lady who touches both left and right — apparently to let her friend through, presumably with a different card, as you’d expect the gates to reject the one card being used twice. Also note the double-width gate has been left open, in the absence of a staff member.

Further reading:

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.

9 replies on “New Myki gates – about twice as fast as the old ones”

One problem I often see is people who don’t lie the card flat on the reader as they have a thumb/finger under the card (I think your video clip shows this too). Sometimes the machine won’t recognise the card this way causing delays until they get it right.

I’m still getting inconsistent responses at Mitcham, and all the gates seem to allow bi-directional flow now so I sometimes have to wait for people to stop approaching the other side of a gate before I can open it from my side. Overall they’re noticeably faster than the old gates, but to be slower would have been incredible.
They’re still nowhere near the speed of Oyster:

I think the “going to sleep” aspect of the myki readers is still a part of the new barriers, because when I used the gates at Mitcham, there was still a pause when reading the card.

We went down to look at Springvale a couple of weeks ago and I was very impressed with the gate speed. The station attendant kindly let us through a swing gate to examine the station, but I just had to test out the readers. Very slick.

If we can have that speed, and bypass the “multiple cards detected” error, we’re well on our way.

The slower gates should be ok in the outer locations such as Springvale and Mitcham. The faster ones would be of some advantage to busy locations such as Richmond and CDB ones.

Some people object to not having their balance shown on the screen as they go through. Perhaps we need to keep one or two of the old ones, just for those people to use.

To conclude, I fail to understand the logic of having the card touch the screen. It makes paywave difficult to use, as you need to consult with the screen so as to know if the transaction has been detected or not. The most important moment of when you need a clear visual of the screen is as your card is touching the device.

No to replace these dodgy myki readers on the tram. This morning it took just a bit over 3 seconds to touch on.
I don’t think myki is a bad system at all. Auto top up, does the thinking for you I mean you can’t go wrong. The problem is the way we interact. These new gates are a great start to fixing it

Do they have a mobile tram version of these readers coming out? I have only seen these fixed ones.

Today I exited Richmond station for the first time since the new gates were installed. I tried touching off under the screen and the attendant got impatient with me and gave me a lecture on how to read. I thought he was a jerk so I got angry back at him.

Anyway, I do think it’s odd you touch over the screen as it obscures any message it gives you. Strange design! Furthermore, below the screen there is *still* a large pad which gives you the impression that you should be touching there. Who designs this stuff?

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