Friday, September 10, 2010

Myki lessons and the way forward

The myki concept in itself is decent, but the project has been plagued with very poor project management and implementation. Myki is a casestudy on how NOT to build a smart card system, compared to "successful" implementations like Octopus and Oyster. So what did the other smart cards do right that we didn't? I'd suggest two things: 1) they weren't overly ambitious from the start 2) they had a quick transition period from their old systems.

Firstly, the Oyster card was first issued to the public with a limited range of features. Myki was overambitious from the start. From offering a myki money system that wasn't fully tested, to beginning with online topups rather than top ups at stations. This was a radical change from the existing metcard system, which in turn required an education campaign. The focus at the start should have clearly been to build a low risk system that worked and that was familiar enough to existing metcard users so they could easily make the transition.

Lesson 1) They should have built a virtual metcard using myki equipment. Offering the exact same tickets as metcard (2hr, daily, weekly, monthly, etc), but using myki touch on and off technology. Myki money, online topups, etc could have been phased in later when fully tested or killed off if the government ran out of money.

Secondly, unlike the Octopus system which forced users to transtition to their new system within the first 3 months, we've had a year of two parallel system running with no end date for metcard in sight. Hence, why there has been a low uptake of the myki system. This is obviously a bad situation to be in.

The dilemna is mainly caused by the poor myki money rollout, where people just don't have confidence that the correct fare will be calculated. How can you force commuters to adopt a system that they're not sure will work? The solution is you don't.

The way forward from this mess is to isolate myki money from the rest of the system, so that it's not integral to the way the system works. As I mentioned previously, exact equivalent metcard fares need to be offered on myki pass (2hr, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and all the variants). If commuters are not confident in the myki money calculations they can now bypass it by buying prepaid fares on the myki pass system. This therefore negates the need for metcard readers, ticket top up machines, and paves the way for a full rollout of myki topup machines.

Lesson 2) The only way to have quick adoption is to force people to upgrade to a RELIABLE system.

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