myki (pronounced /ˈmaɪ.kiː/ ‘My-key’) is the contactless ticketing system being intoduced across Victorian public transport. Thus far, it’s also considered to be a fairly colossal f*ck up.
It’s pretty hard to be Victorian and not have a firm grasp on the history of continued delays, hardware malfunctions and budget overruns of the implementation thus far, but what happens if we continue down the current path? I do a little imagining…
1997 – Final rollout of Metcard as Melbourne’s public transport ticketing system across trams, trains and busses. The implementation of this automated ticketing system is met with much criticism due to run overs in budget, and poorly functioning equipment.
2002 – Initial discussions around the introduction of a “Smart” ticketing system begin. The Department of Infrastructure erectes a display of smartcard ticketing systems by various vendors at Flinders Street Station – the future is coming.
2004 – Formal request for tender is raised. Ten tender offers are received from six bidders
2005 – Amid claims of nepotism and corruption, the Kamco consortium is selected to develop the system. They have no background in delivering a ticketing or transport system of this, or any other scale. The contract is awarded on the basis of a $494m budget, for completion by 2007. They name their system myki.
2008 – Victorian Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky announces that the full rollout of the system will not begin until the end of the year.
Feb 2009 – Four years on, all bus routes in the Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula area are completely switched to myki. The rollout is a roaring success with customers, as malfunctioning machines result in bus drivers waiving passengers on sans the need for payment.
May 2009 – Installation of myki readers begin on metropolitan Melbourne trams. In June 2009 the first myki vending machines appear at metropolitan rail stations.
December 29th 2009 – In a politically motivated move to ensure myki is “up and running in 2009”, the ticketing system is now valid for service across Melbourne train stations. Metropolitan bus and tram services are not enabled to use the system, leading to widespread confusion and the requirement of continued use of the metcard alongside myki.
Various “teething” issues come to light. Rollout to bus and trams is delayed due to transmission issues in the building congested Melbourne CBD. Pensioners expecting to receive named cards are posted anonymous ones instead. Machines breakdown, and remain in this state for weeks on end.
July 25th 2010: myki became available for use on Metropolitan and suburban buses and trams.
November 28th 2010: Victorian State elections are held. A huge swing against the incumbent Labor government results. General media commentary suggest the failure of myki as a key election issue and contributing factor to the change in government.
December 28th 2010: The newly elected state government announces that it will halt any further rollout of myki, pending internal audit.
March 2011: Following internal review, agreement is made to continue implementation, citing already sunk cost and the lobbying of Victorian rail operator Metro.
Metro states the need for an automated tracking system to improve service delays, and suggest the additional project requirements of “scrapping and starting again” would ultimately make operations unfeasible when considering future passenger growth.
June 2011: The state government continues it’s public backing of the ticketing system, despite an independent audit suggesting 70% of terminals are unavailable for for periods in excess of 1 day each month.
July 2011: A public campaign – backed by the Herald Sun – condemning service issues, delays touching on and off, and frustrations at overcharging, gains traction. “Send back out your myki day” is held on the 6th of July, with the department of transport receiving over 12,000 myki’s in the mail.
November 2011: Stuck between a political rock and a hard place, the Baillieu government presses on, publicly stating his support for the system. He continues that “myki is the future for transport in Victoria”, and that the Metcard ticketing system will be switched off in January 2012. At this stage, myki represents 6% of the total public transport ticketing for Victoria.
December 2011: In an attempt to increase uptake, the Transport Ticketing Authority announce Metcard users will be required to pay an additional 10% levy if they choose to continue using the old service. Widespread protesting entails.
January 2012: Uptake increases to 45%, resulting in further drain on an already overloaded system. Rush hours queues leaving the station often take minutes to clear. Ticket enforcement officiers are at a loss over how to police customers jumping boundaries over frustration at delay.
28 March 2012: Despite massive campaigning by political rivals and the media, Ted Baillieu delivers on his commitment to terminate Metcard. On the first full day of operation the central ticketing systems malfunctions – with some talk of sabotage – resulting in non-payment for all users. It becomes perhaps the only positive note discussed across talkback radio during the entire implementation.
At this stage, total implementation costs are in excess of $2.5b
11 April 2012: Following malfunction of terminals at Southern Cross station, a early morning crush turns nasty when ticket inspectors and gate attendants refuse to let people though without swiping off. A crowd forms and things soon turn nasty. A brawl entails, resulting in two ticketing inspectors being taken to hospital, and 12 commuter arrests.
#mykifail becomes a trending topic for 5 days straight.
May 2012: Crisis meetings are held. Despite the best effort of project managers, engineers, and consultants, longstanding issues cannot find resolution.
June 2012: Sensing political armageddon, the Baillieu government announces a return to the Metcard while further internal audit can occur.
Augest 2012: myki is scrapped, and a new implementation schedule is drafted with the goal of taking a an off-the-shelf system through rapid implementation. Implementation is slated for 2014.
It’s a scary future, but maybe one not that impossible. I feel for the guys working on this project; God knows I’ve worked under similar circumstances previously. Whatever the outcome, mark my words, Project Management text books will be written on this.
edit: Thanks to @kiwiguy72 for some additional historical background!