Thursday, June 21, 2012

Obtaining a Melbourne Tram Ticket

Next month I am speaking at an international conference in Melbourne. Most of the other delegates are from China and will be staying at the conference venue. I am staying in the city and so need to get to the venue. The Melbourne tram network is extensive and they has introduced a smart transit card ("Myki"). But working out how to actually buy a ticket has proven much more difficult than getting the equivalent electronic ticket in Istanbul.

There are plans for a Tourist Pack, for visitors, preloaded with $8. But currently if you click "visitor" on the "Which MyKi is for you?" page, you are advised to buy the regular MiKi card. Curiously, while full fee paying passengers are told that the card will cost $6, visitors are not told of this cost.

I attempted to purchase a MiKi card, with MiKi money already loaded on the card. Also I chose a registered card, which allows topping up the money online and a refund if the card is lost. This required filling in not only details of where I wanted the card sent, but my email and phone details, a user id, and password. The first few times I tried this the system rejected the transaction after I had completed several screens full of information. The text on one screen was overlapping and unreadable and in other cases the text I was trying to enter would not fit in the boxes, due to poor web page design.

After several attempts I was able to order a registered card. I then tried to order a non-registered card for someone travelling with me. In this case I could not work out how to order a card with money on it. I could order a card with no money on it, but that would be of no use, as there would be no way to use it for travel. Perhaps this as done for security reasons, as the anonymous card acts as essentially like cash. But it seems silly not to allow at least a small amount of money on the card, as without it the card is useless.

Several Australian cities have, or are introducing, smart transit cards. All these cards use the same technical standards and are capable of being interoperable. The Australian Government could boost tourism and lower carbon emissions by encouraging the state governments to allow their transit systems to accept each other's smart cards (just as toll roads accept interstate electronic tags). This would allow interstate visitors to use their current card and international visitors to pre-purchase a card.

No comments: