Skybus on Myki? Way to go! Another chance to showcase our technological accomplishments to the world. (Let’s hope the world doesn’t touch-off.)
It’s been some time since I’ve ruminated in this forum on the mysterium tremendum which is Victoria’s very own Myki. That’s because its all been remarkably quiet and boring on (my) Myki front.
But that’s just changed, upon opening an envelope in today’s post. I had read some time back that as of mid-November a facility would be provided for any outstanding value on Metcards to be transferred to one’s Myki. I remembered this a few days ago whilst on a train, so duly presented myself, my Metcard and my Myki at the Metro Trains booth at Flinders St Station. Yes indeed, came the response, and I could simply arrange it at any ticket window or at any premium station. ‘You beaut’, thought I, and popped along to my local station near home.
Well guess what …. They gave me a form to fill in, which I was then to post (Reply Paid, at least) with the Metcard ticket. The good news is I got a pretty prompt reply in the post, informing me that “arrangements have been made” for a credit of Myki money. (Whoo-hoo!) The bad news (all familiar territory to us longsuffering Myki minions):
1. it will take up to 14 days;
2. I must (for the 57th time at least) present my card to a Myki machine or reader in order to get the $6.56 onto the Myki card;
3. following the above process, if I fail to touch-on again within – yes, you guessed it – 90 days … my $6.56 “will not be added to (my) card and is temporarily suspended”.
The wonder simply continues unabated …..
My capacity to expend further scribal energy on Myki is waning. I shall be brief. Just had yet another two phone conversations with Myki staff, after second “change of mind” failed to ‘unlock’ anything. Advised that a “specialist” has now reconfigured (?) the next auto top-up transaction, so that it’s now available to the card. A simple touch-on to a Myki machine (or a “change of mind” for good measure) will now, so I’m told, result in the next $10 reaching the card. Following that, the next day should see everything hunky-dory. Yeah right …
What’s the betting I’m the butt of some elaborate stunt by either The Chaser or the Gruen mob?
Here we are back on the Myki investigative trail, continuing from last time. When last I mused, I revealed the gnostic intrigue of the “change of mind”, with its promise of deeper enlightenment. I can now report that a mere isolated C.o.M. is simply paddling at the shallow end of Mykinian wisdom.
Added to that, I think I now have a little more sympathy with my poor Myki. They do say that something beginning with ’s’ simply .. er .. happens. Which of course it does. They rarely however name it’s opposite, which also .. happens. I’m speaking of course of constipation, which from time to time afflicts us all – let’s just be honest. Why should my Myki be any different? One should also recognise the embarrassing delicacy of the predicament which doubtlessly is as much behind the slowness of the unfolding revelation as the patience required for a cure. The C.o.M., I’ve concluded, is something akin to a daily suppository. And if you required that kind of therapy, then um .. well you know … you wouldn’t freely chat about it in the foyer after church, let’s face it.
It seems that my poor Myki’s intestines are all knotted up with half-digested auto top-ups and a cancellation. (I feel flatulent just thinking about it.) After the initial C.o.M. (which did indeed function as promised – complete with an onscreen “change of mind” message) – and naturally the requisite 24-hour fast, in my neophyte innocency I was puzzled that only one of the three half-digested ten-dollar auto top-ups had been released to the card. But oh what a dull simpleton I was. I didn’t recognise the blinding obvious, and needed a patient Myki HQ guru to spell it out to me in phone call #47 this morning. You can’t expect a single C.o.M. to right every ill. Dear me, no. You need a separate C.o.M. for each half-digested morsel, with – quite properly – a 24-hour fast before the next, in each case.
Now that’s what I call progress in the quest for spiritual enlightenment. So today I hied me off to Werribee train station once more, but not of course for some base purpose like catching a train. No, my quest was far purer. Having done one C.o.M. already, I was well prepared. And perhaps it’s a sign of how far I’ve come in this mystical quest, that it occurred to me that just maybe I could do the three remaining C.o.M.’s on the one occasion, 30 seconds apart. Just seemed logical somehow …
My publicly observable behaviour on the station platform today would no doubt have been somewhere between entertaining and alarming, depending on the Myers-Briggs type of those watching. Likely surmises would be either that I was someone harmless enough, though two lettuce leaves short of a salad, or a terrorist giving a coded signal to his mates. It’s likely therefore that my next post will be penned from either a Federal Police lockup or one of those islands where ASIS bang up their internees. Stay tuned …
P.S. Might it be that the real force behind Myki is Interpol … ? There’s some real fodder for investigative journalism.
I reckon I was onto more than I knew in coining the language of gnosticism in recent reflections on my personal Myki saga. Indeed I’ve now attained a still higher knowledge of Mykinian mysteries, surely a path to enlightenment, hitherto hidden from mortal perception. I had a sense that there might be some incantation yet to be revealed in the current quest for the holy grail of Myki functionality. If still I haven’t found it, I’ve certainly now been inducted into something awfully close.
My last report from the trenches concluded with the promise of a callback on my auto top-up query, which has at last been accorded the status of a case number. The plot had thickened exponentially, with the promise of still more. The callback came just a short time ago, and I was certainly not disappointed gnostically speaking. It has been revealed to me that two auto top-ups, one on a date in February 2010, the other sometime since, mysteriously failed to reach the card, even after multiple touch-ons. You know you’re into serious gnosis when even the higher inductees are truly mystified by a new discovery, as was the case for the guru who contacted me today. However he did lead me to a plane of enlightenment that makes a mere touch-on look positively neophyte. Before you read another word … I strongly recommend the removal of your shoes and a sniff of your armpits. You wouldn’t want to take this level of revelation lightly.
To continue … I must now take my wife’s Myki card back to the station. This time it’s to be touched-on not to the big blue money-eating mother ship, but rather the apparently pedestrian reader up on the platform. I’m to perform a kind of purification ritual (so it sounds, at least) known as a “change of mind”. You touch on — wait 30 seconds — then touch off. Sounds so simple, but we gnostics know of course that the purest revelations are always outwardly the most humble. The “change of mind” will, so I’m assured, have a disproportionately profound effect on my Myki account. It will apparently dislodge both the formerly lost transactions and the latter auto top-up cancellation from their ethereal prisons, thus restoring them to the card for which they were destined, all without befouling the total cash balance.
One further, more cosmic thought on the Myki story of us all. Myki could be conceived of as Victoria’s Tower of Babel – similar to, say, CityLink’s Burnley Tunnel. The former state government early in their reign announced a vision of Victoria becoming the techno capital of the Universe. Our state would host the premier tertiary courses in the bold frontiers of IT, such as computer game design inter alia. If it was top of the pops technologically, it would hail from our state. Once one has decided to be the hottest and biggest, there’s a sense of moral self-actualisation that compels one to go it alone as the new frontier pioneer par excellence. So then, we wanted a smartcard approach to transport ticketing (because being techno HQ demands smart everything). We could have bought a system that already works from London or Hong Kong. But we had to do it ourselves from scratch, to prove our world superiority. That’s what the world thought before Abraham wore short pants. It didn’t play out well then. Nothing’s changed. But who ever cared?
Anyway, I guess I’d better be off to test my new knowledge. But to play it safe, I’ll have a shower first.
A glance at my tag cloud indicates what rich blogging fodder Myki has provided over the past few years; a fact we of the blogosphere are thankful for (when we have nowhere to go).
Here continues the story of the auto top-up that doesn’t work, has never worked, and yet eludes all attempts at annihilation. In the last amazing Myki episode, I promised further gnostic revelations on the theme. Well, beloved readers, Myki has not disappointed me and thus I have not disappointed you.
To recap and continue …
- Stardate July 10th – clicked the ‘cancel’ button on the Myki screen.
- Stardate July 21st (several light years later, I’m sure) – successful though challenging contact with Myki HQ. Advised to touch the card on a machine to complete cancellation.
- Stardate last Tuesday (further light years having elapsed) – docked the Myki card at the big blue mother ship at Werribee Train Station.
- Wednesday pm – logged on to Myki screen, finding no evidence of cancellation. Contacted HQ again. Advised that the ‘completion’ may take up to 24 hours to appear. Would certainly be done and dusted by day’s end.
- Today – no change after 72 hours. Back to HQ. Myki underling referred me to a slightly higher Myki mate, with assurance of attention. SHMM provides me with a case number!! Initial loud cheers from out here in the galaxy …
Stay tuned for the next thrilling Myki adventure, when someone else from Myki HQ will I believe call me back to address my case. Within 48 hours, I’m told. Fortunately I won’t be travelling.
The great thing about Myki is that you learn something new about it most days. The sad part is that each new learning is most rarely either pleasant or winsome. Here’s my Myki-No-Lyki lesson for today …
I’m just off the phone to Myki HQ.
Getting through was a small challenge. Having been recently secreted in the bowels 1 of the new super entity Public Transport Victoria, resulting in a change to the phone number, Myki’s website still displays the old number. But not to worry. It’s early days by Myki standards, and the call is at least redirected. At someone’s cost – I wonder whose … ? But I digress. That was last month’s Myki-No-Lyki lesson. Or was it the month before? I’m never sure these days. [digression ended – promise!]
Now where was I? Oh yes, the phone call. The chap who dealt with me was ever so polite, which I’m guessing is part of the training. If you must routinely present facts which by the normal standards of rationality would be judged at best nonsensical, then you’d require the kind of bedside manner that would reduce news of a suicide car bomb in your street to the level of a chipped two dollar teacup. Working in the Myki call centre would make anyone a past master at such spin in no time at all. The chap was so cool, I wondered whether he had a pulse.
Allow me to set the scene … My question was with regard to my wife’s Myki card, which has blessed her with rich opportunities for personal character development. There seems to have been an ongoing difficulty getting the cash from the account to the card. Rather tragic, considering how much of our heard-earned is now in that account, thanks to sundry attempts to jump start the card’s heartbeat (which curiously always requires cash extraction and insertion).
It has to do with the auto top-up facility which I set in place a very long time ago. Some months ago I was informed that the problem was due to the auto top-up not getting into the system correctly to begin with. I was assured then that this would be rectified at the server end, and we’d be good to go. “Too easy”, thought I. Well I was wrong. Seems rather it was too hard. And still no money on the card when needed.
Not to be outdone I purposed to cancel the auto top-up myself, with a view to reseting it later. Apart from a system message telling me I’d need to wait 48 hours to reset it, I felt quite in control. No sir! A 2-day wait was not going to defeat me. I’ve handled worse than that before. I have a bank account. But behold even there Myki got the better of me. After a wait of .. well a bit more than 48 hours, let’s just say, I phoned up. And it was then that the most pleasant chap inducted me into a further Myki mystery.
Most of Melbourne now knows (as distinct from ‘understands’) that funds added to one’s account electronically are “archived” (= unavailable to the card at touch-on) if not used within 90 days. That by now is the stuff of Myki 101. I have now acquired advanced gnosis. The same system that so kindly “archives” your money, awaiting your next visit to a Myki machine for further cash release, will render the very same service for the cancellation of the auto top-up. There are, it seems, two steps required to attain the loftiness of auto top-up cancellation. Step #1 is clicking ‘cancel’ online. Step #2 is … yes, you guessed it … another visit to the Myki machine, to touch the magic pad. Thereupon, so my placid guru assured me, the cancellation will be completed. He didn’t mention an incantation, but maybe that will be the next Myki-No-Lyki lesson.
Stay tuned, friends. More gnostic revelations are undoubtedly just down the track.
I thought I’d had the laugh of the week on reading the Zits cartoon (18/7) about “the two parent system”. But that was before I got to the bladder-bursting lines from the real bureaucrats.
First there was the piece by Nick MacKenzie, highlighting that government brothel licenses are reserved for “applicants of ‘good repute’.” Then there was Metro’s spokeswoman with “When a service is cancelled, that constitutes a minor delay.”
It give us all hope to be served by officials blessed with the driest of wit.
Metro’s strategy of “altered” services should be applauded as the stroke of sheer strategic genius that it is. And the lift in performance bonuses isn’t the half of it. The possibilities for efficiency enhancement are nearly without limit. Think about it. Skip one station .. two .. three .. twelve, and the resultant timetable Nirvana will have even Thomas and the Fat Controller grinning.
Not only that, but crowded carriages will be a thing of the past too. With such reduced probability of the train stopping at any given station on the network, fewer people will gather on platforms. That means fewer complaints about Myki … and fewer police needed at Richmond Station on Grand Final Day. Some services could even finish up early, which would logically lift bonuses exponentially.
Of course, road rage could increase somewhat. But hey, that’s a different department …
Until recently I thought the hardest thing about being snapped (by a camera) was putting on a smile that actually lasted, looked sublime, didn’t make me look a dork, and ticked all the above boxes while looking “natural” (whatever that is). But now I know differently. Yesterday I spent about 30 minutes at the local Werribee Train Station, trying to look annoyed to the satisfaction of a local newspaper photographer and her (future) consumers. At least with smiling, I do actually do it now and then, like those times when no one but me got my joke. So my face is accustomed to the required muscular contortions, even if my teeth aren’t quite Hollywood standard. However looking annoyed, facially and staturely (made up word, there) and doing so for 30 minutes, in numerous poses, on a (stationary) train, off the train, in front of the slowly moving train, and all to the entertainment of bemused onlookers … ’twas nothing if not challenging.
Fellow Wyndhamites will shortly be treated to the spectacle of my severely misshapen face, torso and spindly legs somewhere in the vicinity of an article in one of our local rags about the delights of public transport in our fair city. (Just watch the “Wyndham Weekly”, formerly “the Banner”). Please don’t let your children or grandchildren see it, however. Anyone looking as mad as I apparently succeeded in doing on this occasion would produce nightmares aplenty, I’m sure.
What was that you asked? …. Oh, you’re wondering as to the cause of my time in the sun? Well it all started the day I contributed to a smartphone-based survey of travelling on Melbourne trains during peak hour. You know, the great waltz of the sweating sardines … One thing led to another, climaxing with a recent e-mail submission to a local journo. It went like this:-
Photos at train stations are fine, if desired.
My main passions on the subject are more directly about local buses, but rail infrastructure is a major feature in the equation. I’ll raise a smaller (relatively) issue first, followed by a more ‘macro’ one.
Until sometime in the past maybe 2 years, our local bus route (443) ran services 40 minutes apart, meaning a bus for every second train. We all thought that was lousy and couldn’t imagine it getting any worse. Even with the services at that level, we generally needed to drive our children to the station for their train journeys to school, despite the presence of a bus stop a few hundred metres away at the end of our street.
Now the bus services are hourly, whilst train services have actually increased (during peak). So you might strike it lucky if the train you want happens to connect to a bus, but usually not.
Then you add to the mix the low level of patronage on the bus service, which I’m sure is directly linked to its infrequency. i.e. you can’t factor the buses into your commuting routines or strategies, so the few buses that come are an irrelevance, so no one rides on them. And partly because so few people catch the buses, we frequently have buses running early (yes, that’s right). I’m told this happens due to the drivers not noticing that they’ve reached point ‘X’ on the route 2 minutes ahead of schedule. That presumably happens because the scheduling has been calculated on the assumption of stopping ‘Y’ times. But with so few patrons to pick up or let off, there are hardly any stops made. So then the few intending passengers miss their bus as it sails past the stop in the distance, 2 minutes ahead of schedule.
So the end result: our local bus route is functionally irrelevant to our lives and routines, so may as well not run at all. (And btw – we live 5 minutes from the Werribee train station.) So whenever we or any of our neighbours catch a train (our adult children do so most week days for work; my wife and I do so occasionally), we have no option but to drive … which leads to my second point:
Rail commuter parking
With no effective / reliable bus service, commuters in our neighbourhood have to drive themselves to catch a train. But where do they park? Well if they’re an early bird, then no worries – they park in the train station carpark. But the carpark, despite being one of the biggest station carparks I’m aware of anywhere, is full by about 7:30am. Any one of the hundreds (more?) wanting a train after that has to fight for a kerbside parking space in one of the residential streets around. We’ve watched over the past few years as parked cars have taken over suburbia like a hungry and growing metallic blob emanating out from the station and local CBD. Our kids used to park in a street a minute’s walk from the station carpark, which is on the opposite side of both the station and the CBD from the side we live in. But that was before the local residents, quite understandably, rose up in arms about their constantly congested street. So the council installed 2 hour parking signs, meaning the day-long commuters have to park in other streets further out.
So our kids (and their peer hordes) now park in streets this side of both the station and the CBD. That’s where I also park if needing a train. I have long legs and a swift walk, and can get to the station from my car in maybe 5 minutes (depending on traffic at the two sets of pedestrian lights in between). I reckon it would take many people closer to 10 minutes. With Wyndham’s rate of growth, it can only be a matter of time before large swathes of our neighbourhood have become an extension of the station carpark, due to a combination of more cars needing to be parked and more streets out from the CBD getting parking signs.
In short – it’s clear to me that some combination of multi-level parking at the train station and a major funding increase for local bus services is essential to prevent inner Werribee from becoming a congestion nightmare in the next decade. But I doubt that any such investment is even on the state government’s radar.
Train carriage crowding
All of that, of course is before one even gets to the station to catch a crowded train. I have less personal testimony on the train carriages themselves. But I can comment from a handful of experiences where I’ve found myself on an evening peak train returning to Werribee from the city. I’m likely to start my journey at Flinders Street or Southern Cross, meaning I’ll usually get a seat. But I’ve observed fellow travellers in my own carriage, also bound for Werribee, actually standing sometimes right through as far as Hoppers Crossing (the last station before Werribee, which is the end of the line).