And I thought it was only me that loved MYKI!
For the past couple of years I have had a Myki card in my pocket and used it quite a few times without a single problem. I do not commute to work, so I don’t use it on a regular or daily basis, but when I have used it, its worked fine.
And yet, almost on a daily basis I hear people whinging about Myki.. it wont do this and it wont do that. What do these people do with their cards that causes them so much grief?
Then I read a wonderful article on Myki, written by freelance writer, Chris Middendorp and I quickly realised I was no longer alone.
He too likes Myki, and as you will see below, explains in detail why Melburnian’s simply like to whinge about public transport.
Why myki is the best ticket we’ve ever had
To be a Melburnian is to whinge about public transport.
When I heard the impassioned declaration ‘‘ myki is a f—ing disaster!’’ from someone who I know hasn’t taken public transport in 20 years, I had one of those breakthrough moments. It wasn’t as dramatic as St Joan hearing her voices, it was more of a suburban revelation. But it highlighted a key aspect of Melbourne living.
The people in this town love to whinge about the public transport system – in a funny way this shared umbrage brings us together. I can only imagine that this is primarily because it’sa sanctioned way to divert anger that might otherwise be inflicted on hapless work colleagues and family members.
Excoriating Melbourne’s public transport system as unreliable, overcrowded or inadequate has been one of our favourite distractions – ever since the doomed attempt to make the defunct Outer Circle rail line profitable in the middle of the 1890s depression.
These days we reserve special hatred for our latest ticketing system , which is invariably represented as the ‘‘ $1.6 billion myki fiasco’’ . Journalists have had afield day with it, employing such arch headlines as ‘‘ Ticked off with ticketing’ ’ and ‘‘ Taking the myki’’ .
Having caught public transport over 35 years,I have lived through a series of ticketing systems that were all, at one time or another, described as fiascos . Usually by people frightened of change.
In 1981a range of time-honoured cardboard and paper travel tickets were replaced by the lofty vision of the Travelcard, which introduced travel zones to the transport grid. This was probably the greatest innovation since trains went electric in 1919. Nevertheless, this era was initially known as the Travelcard Fiasco. In the 1990s we had the Met Ticket Fiasco, when those lotto-like scratch tickets (where no one won anything) were introduced. And these in turn were superseded by the Metcard Fiasco, our final paperbased ticketing system, with a fragile magnetic strip that damaged easily rendering the ticket unusable.
All these systems worked most of the time and generally, after about 12 months, they became an accepted, even an inevitable, part of the culture.
But not so myki. What’s the problem? I’ve used the system since 2010 pretty much every day with only the occasional glitch. Myki’s been consistently easy to use and is surely the best ticketing system we’ve ever had.
What’s not to like? It’s a smartcard ready to go whenever you’re ready to travel. You don’t have to calculate zones and systems any more and like any debit card you can arrange for your money to top up automatically. And it’s cheaper than the previous Metcard.
Initially the principal complaint was about how much the myki system cost taxpayers. At about $1.6 billion, the government may well have overspent. But it’s a complex system and we will be able to benefit from it for many years. Contrast this to truly profligate government spending such as the $50 million that will have been spent on the grand prix this year. A brief annual event that at terrific expense leaves Victorians with little more than smoke and noise.
Sure myki isn’t perfect – no ticketing system ever is. On buses and trams card readers don’t always work, but most of the time they do. It’s worth remembering that the sainted old tram conductor of yesteryear would not always walk around collecting fares during crowded peak hour. Ipaid for a peak hour tram ticket about twice in the 1980s.
The myki system’s biggest omission is the lack of available singleuse tickets for tourists and one-off users of public transport. Most people, however, know when they’re going to use public transport and should be able organise a myki in advance.
Our ticketing system is one of those few uncomplicated issues about which it’s safe to gripe publicly. No one will be offended. This is satisfying and makes us feel better about all the other complex issues in life over which we feel we have no traction. We are awash with social problems and are close to drowning in competing and often controversial solutions.
Cue the sacrificial myki. Like Julia Gillard, it’s a topic you can’t go wrong complaining about. Conversely, it seems likely that any positive claims made about myki will be met with incredulity and vilification . This smartcard has really got under our skin.
And here’s where it gets more involved. A significant part of our maligning myki stems from a quiet terror of where technology may be taking us. Although most of us happily use smartphones, computers and the internet, we share a repressed unease about the shadow side of technology, about what it’s doing to us as a species. Children don’t play outside any more. People have virtual relationships instead of real ones. Our miraculous phones might cause brain cancer.
Many of us look on myki as a symbol for how dependent we are on technology. A mere bus ticket is now part ofa vast, inescapable computer database. Some of the railing against myki is really a protest against the overwhelming digital realities of the modern era. Which helps explain why even those who haven’t caught a train, tram or bus in decades feel compelled to denounce it.
Source: TheAge | Chris Middendorp is a freelance writer.