In an unexpected move, Victoria's Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula announced last Thursday that, "Victoria’s new public transport ticketing system, Myki, will be valid for travel on Melbourne’s trams and buses from Sunday 25 July."
As you may recall, the Myki smart card ticketing system was introduced earlier this year for use across Victoria's train network but not its bus or tram networks because of unreliability issues. However, the introduction of the ticketing system on trains was marred by so many problems that the political fallout cost then Public Transport Secretary Lynne Kosky her job (she said she was resigning for family reasons). She was quickly replaced by Mr. Pakula.
Last week's announcement makes good on Minister Pakula's promise in late January that Myki would cover trains, trams and busses before the end of 2010. It also helps defuse the potential political time bomb of expanding Myki's use during the upcoming election.
The Minister also announced the current Metcard system will be phased out in favor of the Myki system by Easter of next year.
The Minister also warned that Myki card users could expect some difficulties in using their smart cards on trams and busses, but that their problems would be addressed quickly by the Transport Ticketing Authority (TTA) and Keane Australia Micropayment Consortium (Kamco), the consortium which built the system.
"With a system of this size and complexity, issues will arise. ...There are bugs or issues that only emerge in a live environment... The TTA and Kamco are focused on fixing them as soon as they occur."
According to today's news reports, Myki users haven't had to wait long for the bugs/issues to emerge. This story in The Age says that the first day of operation in Melbourne was marked by bugs/issues involving overcharging, equipment failures, and problems with the Myki web site, which is currently still the only way to buy a Myki card, if I am not mistaken.
In other words, the current situation is similar to that which plagued Myki's introduction on trains, although the situation doesn't sound as nearly bad as what happened in January. Nor is Minister Pakula likely lose his job over whatever problems do arise.
The Myki system was supposed to be introduced in March 2007 at a cost of AU$490 million to develop and another AU$510 million to operate over ten years. It's total cost is now estimated to be AU$1.35 billion - AU$850 million for its development and $500 million for its operation through 2017.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.