Skip navigation

Tag Archives: public transport

A few weeks ago I emailed a formal complaint to the TTA, hoping that they would ignore me and give me reason to take the whole myki overcharging thing to the ombudsman. Unfortunately they were very professional and responsive. Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Sir / Madam,

I am writing to complain about the ongoing overcharging of a significant percentage of myki account holders. I’m the person responsible for the MykiLeaks website, and I find the prospect of having to maintain it for an indefinite amount of time unsatisfactory. Please provide answers to the following questions:

Are you aware that some travel patterns produce overcharges with near consistency?

What is the current accuracy rate for myki on trains, trams and buses respectively?

How do you calculate the accuracy? Is it based on the number of reimbursement requests, or some other means?

Is there likely to be a resolution to the overcharging problem in the form of a system improvement?

If not, will automated account auditing be implemented, such that reimbursements for overcharges occur without request from the user?

Regards,

Jonathan Mullins

They wouldn’t provide me with a written answers to the questions on account of the ‘complexities of the system’, instead they invited me in for a little chit-chat with the TTA’s General Manager of Operations.

So last Monday I left work early to make my way to the TTA’s offices on Collins St, ironically arriving late on account of train problems.

Level 38 of the ANZ building sports a lovely view of the inner city, the buzz of Flinders St and Southbank against a backdrop of St Kilda and Port Phillip Bay in the distance. When I first stepped out of the elevator I thought… ‘well, I guess I could stomach telling my friends I worked for the TTA if I got to hang out here every day’.

A giant myki logo is proudly presented on the glass wall that separates from the lobby from the TTA’s office proper. The place really is presented well. In my dreams I always imagined a chaotic scene of bureaucrats running around yelling at each other, telephones ringing out, some bald guy occasionally poking his head from an office in the corner, swearing at his assistant for not producing the report he asked for 3 minutes ago.

In reality the TTA felt like a buddhist retreat in the clouds. Smiling faces, clean carpet, unscuffed desks and polished glass. I wonder if it’s like that every day?

After some introductions and smalltalk, we got down to the business of overcharging on the myki ticketing system. I wish I had some exciting news to report, but unfortunately the information I learned wont come as much of a surprise. The bottom line as I see it, based on what I learned at the meeting, is:

  • Overcharging will continue to occur until Metcard is phased out, at which time buses and trams will magically know what suburb they are in. Something to do with a driver console or some such. Maybe they currently use random number generators.
  • The TTA have some form of ongoing system testing in place, in the way of pretend passengers that travel through the network and then check their statements — I hope they use MykiLeaks, that would be so cool.
  • There is no automated checking of all customer trip data that alerts myki to a suspected overcharge and flags it for checking.
  • As a consequence, there is no automatic refunding of overcharges.
  • Implementing automated refunding of every overcharge is not an option, as Kamco / myki / TTA / whoever believe that not every ‘apparent’ overcharge is actually an overcharge. ¬†Something about a zone or a GPS thing or something. Yeah I don’t know either.
So what did I learn? Well, I learned that the people at the TTA are very friendly and hospitable folk who manage to exist in a reasonable state of calm despite being at the pointy end of a very public fuck up. At least that’s how they roll on a Monday afternoon. Power to them, I wish I dealt with stress that well.

Yesterday’s coverage of the latest results from MykiLeaks caused another media stir, but little else. It seems TTA chief Bernie Carolan is reluctant to do much more than encourage users to check their statements, and to re-assure Melbourne’s PT users that the TTA ‘believes’ the error rate to be below 1%.

In April, when the first major coverage of MykiLeaks hit the papers, there were 200 odd statements, with one third reporting overcharges. A small sample size, combined with the argument that someone is more likely to submit their statement to MykiLeaks for analysis if they already suspect overcharging, meant that the TTA were able to dodge the issue with relative ease.

The latest figures – 15% in error from 2000 statements – in my opinion are far less easy to write off as a statistical error. Unlike the first media release, this time I’ve referenced specific examples of overcharging, including an incident where a user was charged $18 for a days tram travel. That’s about 3 times the correct fare.

So what now? Well, I don’t want to have to maintain MykiLeaks site forever, and more to the point, Melbourne’s PT users shouldn’t have to submit their personal data to some guy on the Internets that they don’t know. Here are some reasonable demands that I intend on (somehow) getting fulfilled:

  • Every myki card on the system needs to be audited BY KAMCO for overcharging, right back to the day it was issued.
  • Any overcharges found should be credited back to the accounts without request from the user.
  • Until there is sufficient evidence that the overcharging problem has been rectified, regular (weekly / monthly) audits of all accounts should occur, with overcharges credited back to the account.

I also take issue with the fact that myki statements do not show the user what actual fare [edit – i.e. 2hr / daily / zones] they have paid on a given day, but I’ll leave that fight for another day.

So there’s two ways to use the myki ticketing system, you can add myki money to your account, or you can purchase a myki pass for a fixed amount of time. Here’s my advice for young players:

If you’re used to buying single trip Metcard tickets (including 5x daily / 10x 2 hour), stick with Metcard. Not having to touch off at the end of each journey, there’s no chance of being charged a default dare, and you wont have to be one of those awkward people holding everyone up when exiting their suburban station. Also, we wont¬†mention the overcharging that occurs using myki money, which is not an issue with the Metcard system.

If you are someone that uses a fixed term pass, there’s some advantages to using a myki pass. If you lose a Metcard pass, you’re out of pocket for the remaining balance of days. Using a registered myki, your replacement card will have the remaining balance of your pass transferred to it. The other main advantage is that the myki smartcard is more durable than a paper ticket, meaning that you can avoid the problems of bent Metcard tickets not validating in machines.