9 May 2024

MyWay+ starts 'learning journey' around public transport network before November launch

| Ian Bushnell
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Transport Minister Chris Steel with the new MyWay+ travel card on one of the four electric buses used a learning platforms for the new ticketing system. Photos: Ian Bushnell.

Four electric demonstration buses with the long-awaited new ticketing system on board will hit the road on Monday, ahead of a full launch across the public transport network in November.

Passengers will travel for free on the four buses because the new system, MyWay+, will be ‘learning’ about the bus network using artificial intelligence, and the drivers will also be getting up to speed.

This progressive learning process will continue throughout the year, and in October, the full suite of new equipment will be installed across the Transport Canberra network and fleet.

All passengers will enjoy a free ride during a two-month transition phase, with full operations starting in November.

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Transport Minister Chris Steel said installing new equipment on the demonstration buses was a key milestone for the MyWay+ project.

“It will allow our bus drivers to understand the MyWay+ functions and support the technology to ‘learn’ our public transport network by collecting geolocation data,” he said.

Canberrans who catch a demonstration bus will not have to tap on and off with their existing MyWay card.

The enhanced MyWay+ system will provide journey planning and more accurate real-time passenger information and include simple ticketing options, such as tapping on and off with a phone, smartwatch, debit or credit card.

But it will be slightly more expensive to use a credit card than the new MyWay+ travel card because it won’t be as smart in determining journey times.

The new MyWay+ card will also be available at wider variety of vendors, who will only have to scan the card’s QR code to add value.

Mr Steel said the move to the 4G and 5G supported system would be timed to take into account Optus switching off its 3G network in September to ensure a smooth handover.

But it would mean a shutdown of the fare system during the bus fitouts, testing and hard switchover, which would cost the government about $2.5 million in lost revenue.

One of the four MyWay electric buses that will allow the new ticketing system to learn the bus network.

Mr Steel said the MyWay+ system would be linked with the ACT digital account, where Transport Canberra customers would be able to manage their account, including applying any concessions, together with the new app.

There would be more to come on the app closer to the switchover.

Mr Steel said installing new equipment in October would include 1000 validators, driver consoles and 25 ticket vending machines at light rail stations and major interchanges.

“Throughout this installation phase during October and November, no fares will be collected from passengers to allow a seamless switchover to the new service expected for full launch in November,” he said

“As we prepare for the MyWay+ switchover later in the year, Canberrans should continue using their existing MyWay cards for bus and light rail services.”

Mr Steel also urged passengers to register their existing MyWay card, if they had not already done so, to assist in balance transfers and refunds when the new system comes online.

“The switch to MyWay+ has many components, so we will work closely with the community and a range of stakeholder groups to ensure a seamless transition,” he said.

Transport Canberra will provide regular updates in the coming months on the transition process to the new MyWay+ system, including balance transfers and refunds.

The ACT Government contracted tech firm NEC in February 2023 to supply the next-generation ticketing system in a deal worth $64 million over 10 years.

This came seven years after the move to a more capable system was first flagged.

Transport Minister Chris Steel shows how its done. A phone or credit card will also do the job.

NEC is working on MyWay+ from its Canberra facilities in Majura and will use a local ACT team, including staff from Transport Canberra, to operate and maintain their component of the system throughout the life of the contract.

NEC’s Head of Smart Transport ANZ / Global Centre of Excellence Lead, Mark Messenger, said the MyWay+ system would help to significantly improve the public transport experience in Canberra.

“It will give citizens flexibility in how they pay for their travel as well as ensuring they’re better informed of their travel choices before and during their trips,” he said.

Mr Messenger said drivers would also benefit from additional facilities such as turn-by-turn navigation support, schedule access support for on-time travel, a better integration between the ticketing system and the driver console.

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MyWay+ will cover multiple travel modes across light rail, bus, e-scooter and rideshare/taxi options, aiming to be a simple, secure and seamless way for Canberra commuters to get around town.

It is also expected to minimise fare evasion and fraud.

MyWay+ is expected to produce high-quality geographical, passenger and real-time data that Transport Canberra will be able to use to manage and measure network performance, patronage and fare revenue.

The search for a provider that could deliver exactly what the Territory was looking for was dogged by delays in a fast-changing technology landscape, but the supply of MyWay+ has been on track since the contract announcement.

Transport Canberra says the new system will be worth the wait because it will have many features that were not previously possible.

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So the bus network is worse than it’s ever been, tram stops are too far apart, we have to switch between systems and walk or taxi to other locations, yet instead of fixing these things we have a new ticketing system. This is just more data collection without our permission, whilst services continue to deteriorate. No care for commuters.

“Mr Steel said the MyWay+ system would be linked with the ACT digital account, where Transport Canberra customers would be able to manage their account, including applying any concessions, together with the new app.”

That’s a big nope from me then.
Maybe I can have fake details associated, like the name “Mr E. Vil” I had on the Myki system in Melbourne.

I don’t trust this mob with my data, so the less I give, the less I worry about it when it gets hacked.

It is not necessary to link a TC card to the ACT digital account, and not every cardholder (e.g. visitor/tourists) has such an account. The ADC should be used for more critical services and an unnecessary linkage to it could put ADC at more risks.

I think the Opal card system has got the balance right.

Just what size is that new Myway+ card anyway? From the photo seems longer than Steel’s second finger & about 3 fingers wide; bigger than now. Or is that just photo distortion?
But no mention of real improvements to bus network. From where I live it’s a very long walk to Ainslie Shops or Dickson Pool (there’s only a school bus on Majura/Limestone Avenue), so to get a bus I drive there and use my ♿ permit. And to use The Tram I have to take a taxi to & from.
Not very green. But then Canberra Green is just a feelgood badge that has nothing to do with a good environment.
AI can’t learn my transport needs because I can’t travel on the bus as much as I wish. But hey! it gives some consultants & contractors a nice job and gives us a rates bill to be proud of, double that of most of Melbourne.

Rates are higher than in Melbourne because we pay way less stamp duty and property values are on average higher.

Maybe Mr Steel has little hands like Donald Trump’s, and that is why the card looks so big.

GrumpyGrandpa7:28 pm 09 May 24

MyWay + to reduce fare evasion. Stop it. Don’t make me laugh. 😂.

I’m a regular bus user and every day I see someone scamming a free ride. I’ve heard all the excuses they give the drivers:
“I don’t have a MyWay card”,
“I’ll get mum to top up my card”,
I topped up my card yesterday. Something is wrong with your system”
“I left my wallet at home”, “Someone stole my wallet”,
“Do you take cash”?
“Can I use my Opal card”?

Half of the time, these people just hop on through the back-door and sit down. They have no intent on paying their way.

Giving honest people more payment options won’t automatically encourage fare evaders to start paying fares!

Only Inspectors and fines will do that!

And that point about Opal cards, how can the ACT Government spend 7 years in the planning and fail to enable multi jurisdiction compatibility?

Yeah, free travel leading up to an election. Call me cynical, but who didn’t expect this?

$2.5 million revenue for 2 months. So $64 million being 4 years of revenue. We would be far better off not having a ticketing system.

Consider you buy a car, then hire someone to charge you to use it. They give you back half what they make to help pay off the car. While they tell you that its great because its AI and linked to your government ID.

For every two dollars spent on buses , the ticketer gets $2 while government spends $20.

GrumpyGrandpa9:18 pm 09 May 24

Yeah, I worked something similar:

2 months of lost revenue = $2.5m x 6 = $15m p.a.
x 10 yrs = $150m.

$64m for ticketing / $150m revenue = approx. 43% of our fares going to the ticketing company.

In rough terms, over the 10 year contract, the fare system costs about 1/3 of the fares it will be used to collect.

The we also pay the retailers. The net cost of having people tag on and off slows it down.

The primary purpose of these ticketing systems is to generate data for planning purposes.

But will the timetables at bus stops be corrected? At least two stops have errors. I’ve been ringing and writing since the last timetable change. I’d be happier if the “nuts and bolts” were fixed first. Have no confidence in anything Transport Canberra does.

Some Free bus services over the election period. What a coincidence Deirdre Chambers.

7 years to implement a new public transport ticketing system and the free travel period just happens to be during a fixed election period. But the potential for any issues with the system when actually rolled out, just happens to be after the election.

Victor Bilow4:16 pm 09 May 24

Hmmm? It will give citizens flexibility in how they pay for their travel as well as ensuring they’re better informed of their travel choices before and during their trips,” he said. Its a bus trip and said citizen must know what he is doing and going before he gets on the bus. The big A1 push is going to get a lot of people in trouble as it does a lot of assuming …

Tom Worthington4:01 pm 09 May 24

What exactly will MyWay+ be ‘learning’ about the ACT bus network? What form of AI is being used? Has this certified to be secure, privacy compliant, and safe to use on a vehicle? This can’t be just mapping the route, as the ACT government already has a very detailed digital map of Canberra, used by emergency services.

MyWay AI can only learn if people can use the network. See my other pist today to understand why I can only rarely do so.

I suspect that this is only to make sure that GPS works for the ticketing devices installed on the buses everywhere in the bus network; no private information is required. They already know about everyone from the MyWay ticket.

they also purchase mobile phone location data which allows them to analyse how far people are walking to get to stops

From the photo shown here, it appears we will still have a small screen with a small font and in colours that make it hard to read.

I hope there will be improvement in response time in card reading, and there will be enough time given us to finish reading the screen before everything disappears.

It might be all too late make such changes, but we weren’t asked beforehand, weren’t we.

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