Melbourne’s public transport, under a Labour government, has been on the slide for a great many years. Odd, really, as you’d expect them to embrace and enhance it.
The previous government — under Jeff Kennett — sold the running of the system off to private companies. Years earlier, the tram conductors had been removed also, in favour of nazi-like ticket inspectors, the kind of situation that can only breed contempt.
The paper ticket system, while somewhat wasteful of paper resources (why I wonder didn’t they put boxes on stations or stops to collect people’s used tickets?) has seemed to work for a good 20 years. But with the steady jack-booted march of technology, this is now being supplanted by electronic smart cards, like in London.
But not like in London…
The Oyster card system, while a little invasive as far as personal details are concerned, was easy to use and cheap. You got a card straight from the rail station you happened to be at, and off you went. Open the barriers at a station, you put your card on the oyster-shaped (all-right, round) lumps of plastic on the barriers, the barrier went up and your account was debited by a small amount of money. The only query I have is why it wasn’t rolled-out across the country. But c’est la vie.
Transport Minister Lynne Kosky (and presumably her predecessor) has ordered a now astonishingly costly reinvention of the wheel with the Myki system, originally intended to cost 300 million dollars, but which ended up at 1.4 billion (that’s an excess of $1,100,000,000, which as many have put, could have been spent better on adding new rolling stock — trams and trains — to the overstretched system).
And to add insult to injury, not only was the company that developed the system given additional cash rather than being fined,Â and people using the card overcharged, AND the system is designed so you are forced to touch the reader when you go on BUT ALSO AS YOU GET OFF (which is, frankly, proof-positive that the people who developed it, and those overseeing have never been on a crowded tram, train or bus — and why didn’t they set this up like the barriers that have been sitting on the exits of shops for absolutely years now — you walk through with a tagged item and it goes nuts. Similarly, if they did this on Public Transport, there wouldn’t be the need to physically touch the reader on the way out; Morons), but now, surprise, surprise, we’re going to have to pay $10 to get one of the stupid things!
This is roughly equivalent to being mugged, beaten up, and then left an invoice for the service performed.
Can anyone explain to me how these kinds of — I’ll be blunt — fuck-ups can be allowed to occur? We’re not a third-world country that we hear so much about in newspapers, where idiotic decision after idiotic decision is made by government ministers with more interest in lining their own pockets than doing their jobs.
But to the issue of public transport, I say this: The debacle with this ticketing system, the excessive cost placed in an electronic monstrosity (which I expect will be hacked relatively quickly) versus almost zero investment in infrastructure and trains, trams and buses that actually carry people will only force people back into cars. And in the world in which we live, this is as counterproductive as cutting down all the forests to chuck into powerstations.