There are numerous improvements that would be welcome, but the most important, the one that absolutely should not be dropped, is providing the option of bank-issued cards for fare payment.
It’s vital because it largely resolves so many issues:
- Fixes most issues with new/occasional users not having a card
- Helps overcome the lack of card purchase and top-up facilities on buses and trams
- Avoids people (including tourists) having to guess how much they need for their fare, because you don’t have to pre-load the money. Even with the nearly flat fare system, estimating in advance is difficult
- Avoids online top-up delays
- Avoids transit card expiry issues – for some reason Myki cards expire after just 4 years
- Reduces card wastage and issuing costs
- It resolves the iPhone dilemma (and it’s how most cities enable iPhone payment)
- It’s better than the current Android Mobile Myki solution, which still requires setting up and preloading a “virtual” Myki card
Overall it makes public transport a much easier option for both regular and occasional users – including tourists – you don’t need to know anything about fares or ticketing to start using the system. Just tap and travel.
There’s some fine detail of course, including how to enable concession fares and other discounts on bank-issued cards, which might require some form of pre-registration.
It’s also important to maintain options for those who don’t have bank cards, or don’t want to use them.
(No, removing ticketing and making the system free is not a viable or sensible option.)
Other ticketing system upgrades should include:
- Automatic fare capping so you don’t need to pre-load a weekly Pass to get the cheapest fare – important with bank-issued cards
- Covering all of V/Line and regional town bus services, currently using a mess of various paper tickets, so you can travel seamlessly anywhere in the state
- Replacement of the remaining original slow readers (mostly found on older trams)
- And of course numerous minor usability improvements such as the way card balances are displayed on readers, and removing the pointless double beep – preferably replaced with differing touch-on and touch-off beeps
Some people give the current incumbent NTT a bad rap, because their predecessors Keane/Kamco were involved at the start of Myki, which many of us would remember was a protracted mess.
The other contenders (Cubic and Conduent) would also bring expertise to the table, as they run multiple big systems elsewhere around the world. But given the current budgetary pressures, the question is how much equipment they’d need to replace along the way, and the cost and disruption that might result. Hopefully minimal.
Expect a decision and announcement soon, because the current contract expires in November.