Recently I was in Melbourne as I had meetings at my companies office there. While in Melbourne during my free time in the evenings I went exploring checking out the City Loop, Flinders Station and of course the Tram Network including the newer Class E Trams which were covered well in Patrick’s fantastic article Democratic Tin: Observations from Bourke St.

However one of the great parts of Melbourne PT system that I noticed was the ticketing system Myki. First how easy it is to buy a Myki Card as you can buy them from machines everywhere not just at major stations but across the City such as

  1. All the Ticket Machines.
  2. Over 800 Retail Stores Across Melbourne & Victoria.
  3. On the Bus from the Driver.
  4. On the V/Line from Conductors.

This is something that should be considered here in Auckland to increase HOP use. At the very minimum allow HOP cards to be bought from ticket machines but if we could also buy them bus drivers that would be great as well. This allowed me to quickly get going on the PT Network and doing something similar here making the PT Network much more accessible to new users or people when they lose their HOP cards would be fantastic. This system could also be great for existing users as less cash based users mean quicker dwells for bus services and thus faster PT services.

Myki Machines Selling Cards

It also was not just how easy it was to buy a Myki card but how easy it is to top up. There are Myki Ticket Machines everywhere not just select rationed places like in Auckland, all the trams stops I saw, for example, had them. AT should consider, actually scratch that should put some more ticket machines around the city. At the very minimum, Northern Express City Stops as well as the future Midtown Bus Solution Stops & major NW City Stops such as Albert Street/K’ Road.

You of course also have the 800 retail stores to top up including from all 7-Eleven stores. AT should consider trying to get HOP out to much more retailers. The one near me in Ellerslie is great and I use it all the time so be great for more people accross Auckland to have the same access.

You can also top up online or over the phone, with 90 minutes max wait for the top up. None of this next day or potentially 72 hours wait like with HOP.

Also with Myki if you forget to touch off in Zone 1 let’s say coming into work in the morning, when you go to touch on in the evening to go home it just takes the fare off then no penalty charge. This is great for people not using services with gated stations as we are all human sometimes we forget to tag off. So a system like this is something users would appreciate.

Something else I thought I saw was some Tram stops had Myki readers at the stations so you could tag on/off at the station rather than the Tram. I know the Sydney Light Rail with Opal has readers at the stations. This is another idea that could be great for services such as the Northern Express with the stations having readers similar to the train stations do with city stops also having them. The Trams also had Myki Readers on all the doors and allowed all door boarding. These solutions could drastically reduce dwell times on Northern Express services and potentially other bus services improving journey times for users.

Myki Reader

The NACTO Guides including the Transit Street Design Guide which the new Auckland Street Design Guide being developed by ADO/AT will use as a base highly recommends the implementation of all door boarding and off door boarding.

The Webster Ave Trial in New York city led to impressive improvements, according to NACTO:

Comparing service from a year before installation to a year after, bus travel times through the corridor dropped 19% to 23% for rapid buses. A Bx41 SBS trip during the PM peak fell to 40 minutes, compared to 52 minutes on the previously operated Bx41 Limited. The local bus also saw benefits, with trip times reduced by 11 to 17%

as well as San Francisco

San Francisco shows the specific benefit of all-door boarding. At busy stops, a 38% reduction in entry/exit time was found for buses: 1.5 seconds per customer, in a system with 100 boardings per bus in the peak hour. Transit travel speeds increased 2% on average after implementation. Coupled with improved enforcement, fare evasion dropped from 9.5% to 7.9%, reducing estimated fare loss nearly $2 million.

Melbourne Tram All Door Boarding Readers

These are all ideas that AT should seriously consider for HOP as they will significantly improve both the system from a Network Operations point of view as well as a user Happiness point of view.

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52 comments

  1. How much was a Myki card? I think HOP is too expensive, $10 for a bit of plastic that they like to block whenever they feel the need to annoy you. I’m on my third one… $5 would be much more reasonable, especially for tourists.
    I’ve been harping on about all door boarding for years, no one cares about bus travel times in Auckland.

    1. I have a Hop card that is delaminating through no fault of mine and they want me to pay $10.00 to replace it . And living here on Waiheke to top it up you have to go to the Ferry terminal which can be a pain especially if you live at the far end of the bus routes and it can take up to an hour fro A to B and back to A again

        1. What if you don’t have a credit/debit card ? .AT don’t have the means to make a payment straight from you Bank account when you need cause all they want is a permant type transaction

          1. That they don’t support a payment provider like POLi (your bank account to the vendor) is atrocious.

            It seems that they’re a bit behind the times when it comes to the theory of customer service. Making it easy for customer to buy your product/service is fundamental to good business.

          2. You can actually do payment using your bank account directly apparently, didn’t notice this myself for a while. Online payment can be made by credit or debit card or linking a bank account using Account2Account (currently only available for customers of these banks: ANZ, ASB, BNZ, KiwiBank, TSB, Westpac.). I think this can be used for one off or setting up Auto Top-up like a direct debit? not sure actually now I look….shows you how confusing it is, don’t want to change mine to test it.

          3. If you look at AT website it takes up 2 days for the payment to go through which is a pain if you want to travel the same day

          4. Why don’t you just get a debit card like everyone else? You are asking AT to add in an extra component to their system, which will cost when you can just get a free debit card.

      1. If it’s the same as what happened to mine, and the clear outer coating is separating, just rip it off. The card works perfectly well without it. The only downside is you lose the card number as that is printed on the clear part, and the colour starts to wear off the card so it looks a bit shabby.

        1. I lost the front lamination just after I got and now the rear is going from the silver stripe across and I haven’t found out what the silver stripe is for and the idiots at AT don’t know either

  2. One of my favorite things about myki is that you can top up arbitrary amounts. That way when I’m visiting I can drop all my loose change onto my myki card before flying back to NZ.

    Sydney’s Opal cards have set amounts so I get stuck with the loose change.

  3. Myki also cost $1.5 billion (compared with $110 million for HOP) and was delivered years behind schedule. It still hasn’t delivered what was initially proposed. It is a lesson in how not to run a smart card implementation project but it is more user friendly than HOP now it is finally in use.

  4. Adelaide and Brisbane have also introduced smart card integrated ticketing, and at a fraction of the cost of Myki. These systems can all be bought “off the shelf” now from various vendors.

    1. Myki was, in effect, a public subsidy to create a product line for private company to sell elsewhere. Rather than get a working product off the shelf, the ended up spending ten times as much to build up an inferior product from scratch.

      1. And it’s still horrendous to use, even after multiple enquiries and reports. Tag on time takes an age, which slows boarding, and you can’t quickly or easily topup online. I think about all the useful things they could have done with that billion-plus dollars they wasted whenever I’m stuck on the Monash Freeway. And then there’s the East-West Link cancellation clause…Combined, that’s $2 billion (at least) that could have gone toward creating a magnificent PT network.

        1. They’ve speeded up the myki tag time, and I think it’s 180 milliseconds now, down from 400ms.

          As for spending, the billions that get poured into Melbourne’s freeways ($21b with the WestTunnel and Ring Road alone) and Transurban’s coffers would pay for a huge expansion of the PT system, but you get what you vote for.

  5. I can’t see all door boarding on buses working in Auckland. The type of people who travel for free on Auckland’s trains could do the same on buses.

    Or is there some security/checking system I’m not aware of ?

    1. Auckland doesn’t have a monopoly on fare evaders you know. I think if it works in Melbourne and other places like San Francisco then it could well work here too.

    2. Personally, if a few kids (or hundreds) get free trips from time to time, often on off-peak services, I don’t care. The bus (or train) is already running and it enables freedom they wouldn’t possibly have otherwise had. It’s a social good.

    3. Yes, there’s such a thing as a ticket inspector. They travel in teams on trams and trains, and keep fare evasion low. Having a free tram zone in the city helps as well.

      1. And years ago when the ARA ran the bus system they use to have inspectors that came aboard a bus out of the blue any where along a route which helped to nail the fare dodgers and keep the drivers honest , but due to cost cutting they have all vanished . And they were handy at terminals for people that needed infomation about diffferent bus routes , they also came in handy if a bus didn’t turn up and they were able to get another on the run

  6. The HOP cards on buses is such an obvious step. $20 gets you a HOP card with $10 credit and the bus ticket thrown in for free.

    Plus ticket/top up stations! It’s ridiculous that there isn’t a top up station at any of the university stops, any of the Albert Street Stops, or at Albany mall, Takapuna transport centre, Botany, and Otahuhu town centre!

      1. It’s not that AT *can’t* do it. It’s that they *won’t* do it. It’s a simple, cheap way to make PT way easier, but no one can cut a ribbon.

  7. I just got back from London, along with the rest of their pretty great public transport system, one thing that i found really neat was that i could use my contactless ASB visa card as an Oyster type card with absolutely no setup, no need to buy a card, no topup, no additional fees for use, just tap and go. it even included a daily maximum fare. As a visitor this was very helpful and impressive that it worked.

    1. You need to watch that you don’t get foreign currency transaction fees added when you get your next bill in NZ$. To avoid the possibility of this I use my Loaded for Travel card (issued by Kiwibank) and have pounds as one of the currencies. I also registered my LFT card on the Oyster site so I can track my travel, the amount charged and that the correct discounts (daily and weekly cap etc) are applied. Oyster is absolutely superior to HOP for its versatility, and although fares can be expensive having caps is great – why AT haven’t gone down this path I can’t understand. Off to London again in two weeks and don’t need to take or purchase an Oyster card. Will be on the Piccadilly Line from the airport too.

      1. If you do not already have Citymapper app i highly suggest you get it. So great to have all options presented with estimated arrival times of services pretty much bang on. Cant wait until that sort of functionality is available in New Zealand. Also yes additional exchange fees suck but my FOREX card wasnt contactless so for total of about $20 worth I could live with it.

    2. AMF,
      I fear that your bank will charge you a transaction fee on top of what you paid for each transaction!
      I’m in London in 4 weeks but will be be using my Oyster card that I bought 10 years ago.

      1. I tend to keep currency from another country long enough for it to no longer be legal tender, or if it is when I have another trip, I forget to take it. Wouldn’t rate my chances of finding an overseas card on cue particularly well… but one of the advantages of the oyster card, I understand, is that you can return it for a refund. Now that is something we need for HOP.

    3. I live in London and Contactless is great. When you are travelling a lot on the weekends where a weekly pass does not make sense, the weekly cap is great when you do need it (same price as a weekly pass anyway). I have actually moved one on from the contactless card to Android Pay (for security). It works great, and I really believe that AT should look at it and if they have to build a duplicate backend – bit shortsighted

  8. ‘Also with Myki if you forget to touch off in Zone 1 let’s say coming into work in the morning, when you go to touch on in the evening to go home it just takes the fare off then no penalty charge.’

    This appears to happen with HOP as well. I have forgotten to tag off at Ellerslie a couple of times, and when I tagged on the next morning it only deducted the standard fare from Britomart ($3.15) not the penalty fare ($20).

    1. Yes I’ve forgotten to tag off the link numerous time and have never been charged a penalty fare, so not sure how/when the penalty is applied.

    2. Try Waiheke if you fail to tag off it can cost you $4.90 instead of the $1.85 fare and that is since they made the whole island a single fare zone , it was better when we had 4 zones you only got stung or $2.90 which was for 4 stages

  9. As a tourist to Auckland, the number one place you need to see those damn AT HOP cards is : at the Airport! Can’t believe I even have to say that – its so bloody obvious – and yet there is nothing at the Domestic Terminal. Seeing as fully 50% of all travellers to Auckland are Domestic, AT should be aiming to get them all on buses and trains asap. Contrast that with Melbourne, where Myki greets you at the doors.

    In Wellington, for many places, the Snapper card can effectively replace money – i can use my Snapper to buy things at the corner shop as well as go on the bus or train. AT need to get with the program!

    One seriously bad thing about Myki though, is the sense of confusion. They have a sign which tells you – that you can buy Myki Card or Myki Money – and unless you’re a local, it makes bugger all sense. In fact, I still don’t know.

    Oyster card in London beats then all hands down. By far the easiest to use and refill and so therefore – the whole of London has one (exaggeration probably, but they are very commonplace). And they sell Oysters at all the airports, train stations, and bus stations, as well as corner stores.

    1. I thought Snapper was moving away from being able to be used for other goods as the have realised they have lost the battle for contactless payment to the banks, is this not the case?

    2. +1!

      I never realised that they didn’t have a way to buy/top up a Hop card there.

      AT also need to extend the credit expiry from 6 months to 12 or 18 months, though they’d probably claim that this would increase their operating costs.

  10. I appreciated Auckland’s paper ticket system after visiting Melbourne.

    My wife and I were staying in Melbourne for a weekend. We wanted to travel 2 stops beyond the free tram zone (and back). There didn’t appear to be anyway to get onto the tram without buying 2 Myki cards, adding credit to both.

  11. We bought our myki from the hotel. Maximum take per day was $7.50. After the max it stopped deducting. Also on weekends half price so you went to $3.25 and then no more. So the trams are as full on weekends. We had money left over so our myki have had three trips to Melbourne with different people. They used our money then topped up and passed on. No having to register online.

  12. There’s a couple of small misconceptions about myki here:
    – on trams (and only on trams) you are not required to tag off, and it is preferred that you don’t. This is because all tram routes are within Zone 1, meaning every passenger (with a small exception on one route) is only ever going to be travelling on Zone 1 fare, and tagging off trams was realised (quite late in the myki development, although it had been consistently pointed out by the tram operator for a long time) to have a detrimental effect on dwell times. However on buses and trains you can in effect be charged a penalty, as if you fail to tag off you will be charged the maximum fare possible (for trains, that means across the metro rail network which is 2 zones, and for bus it means to the end of that route from your point of tagging on).
    – the blue readers you saw on tram stops in the city are not for tagging on and off – they are for checking your balance. This is a rather subtle distinction, and not made very obvious to the user.

    On balance, having lived in Melbourne when myki was introduced, its refreshing to read some positive commentary on it! Its introduction – and eye watering cost – didn’t win many friends in the early days. Having said that, whinging about fares and fare systems seems to be a particularly Melbourne sport… more so than anywhere else I’ve lived or worked.

    1. Yes, those are for balances, so that if there’s a line at the machine you can check if you need to top up.

      Tagging on is still a requirement for trams, except in the city Free Tram Zone.

      The all-door system is supported by a reasonably robust compliance team, who often get on at the very edge of the Free Tram Zone to catch students whose university is about 1km down the road.

  13. All door boarding really needs to be for the whole of a route to be worthwhile, otherwise you have a mixture of people who have been screened by the driver and those that haven’t. This means some enforcement effort will be wasted as they are checking people who the driver already knows have tagged on.

  14. One other thing of important note is that the modern Bombardier units are designed for entry at all doors. It makes a huge difference, and the large open spaces make it possible to get around those people who aren’t very good at moving out of the way.

    On the downside, about two thirds of the tram fleet (about half by capacity) is not compliant with disability law, and will remain non-compliant for the next decade.

  15. In London you just use your contactless debit or credit card to tag on and off. No need to buy an oyster card, which is the Hop card equivalent, though you can get them and they work the same (but with pre-loaded credit). Either way, it works out the fee for all the travel at the end of the day and charges it to your bank account. Often you’re charged less than the single fares added up as it gives you a capped daily option based on the old travelcards. It also has a weekly cap, which comes into effect if you use it a lot during a single week (based on the old weekly travelcards). There’s no need to know in advance what travel you’re going to do, it just gives you the best deal after the fact. But most importantly it works like a dream and many people have (or can choose to have) a contactless payment card in their wallet already, so that would save having to get a Hop card at all. Let’s skip improving Hop card availability and go straight to contactless payments!

  16. Good to see multiple language options with Myki. Hopefully AT will implement other languages into their system other than Maori. Even though Maori is an official language, I haven’t seen anyone actually select the Maori language option.

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