Seeing like an electronic ticketing system

It’s pretty clear that Melbourne’s touchless public transport payment system myki is reviled by the commentariat and, if my twitter stream is any indication, by regular people too. A quite remarkable site popped up that shows what you could buy for fractions of what myki cost.

One of the current criticisms of myki is that it’s no better to use than the old metcard system. When myki was launched it was also criticised for being slow and for the congestion it caused at the fare gates at the exits to big stations.

These are fair criticisms of myki but I suspect some of the problems will “dissolve into behaviour”. As people become used to the rhythms of the fare gates and the card readers, the congestion will lessen. Why myki isn’t at least as fast as Hong Kong’s Octopus Card is a different question.

But what if myki isn’t meant to be any better than metcard for regular people? If myki is the same to use as metcard for people, then I’m sure it’s very different for Public Transport Victoria.

I suspect that there’s a wealth of data inside myki that PTV are loving being able to manipulate. With no casual ticketing system, every (paid) trip made with myki is logged. That’s not too exciting, but I expect it’s relatively simple to gather historical ridership data from the city level, right down to the service, line, suburb, street and individual. And that is what may be worth the staggering cost of myki.

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