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Smartcard chaos comes to Canberra

By johnboy 28 April 2010 41

Surely it is with some trepidation that the Chiefly Stanhope announces that ACTION is moving towards smartcards on the bus system.

There’s nothing wrong with smartcards per se. Being able to swipe the whole wallet is great. As is topping them up over the net from our iPhones.

The problem is that the system will also require callow youth and dopey commuters to remember to swipe the card as they get off the bus.

Even assuming the technology works flawlessly (stop sniggering up the back there) we look forward to a deluge of stories about how the writer’s precious child couldn’t possibly have forgotten to swipe off 20 times.

The trial will start in August. But we all know trials in this town are conducted after the decision is made.


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Smartcard chaos comes to Canberra
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bethybobs 5:55 pm 04 May 10

Seriously people will get used to this system just as they got used to the last system. I have been in both Singapore and Hong Kong and their elderly public transport patrons seem quite able to cope with the simple task of swiping a card on entry and exit.
I also agree that it is unlikely that there will be much of a problem when swiping off as Canberra only has the one fare at the moment. But also once you are hit with an extra charge you will learn and remember for next time. Its not that difficult.
I am actually excited to see how this pans out.

Imwatchinu 11:45 am 03 May 10

BimboGeek said :

Any doctors care to insert my smart card into my wrist? And an iphone into the other one? Basically I’m aiming for Neuromancer style technology because

a) I like the look

b) I keep losing my phone and bus pass!

Mark of the Beast..it’s happening.

georgesgenitals 8:30 pm 01 May 10

fgzk said :

Pensioners of Canberra could be issued Iphones.

Silliest idea in a long time. Many older people struggle with this kind of technology, as it’s not something they grew up with or used for much of their life. Why should they have to go through the angst of trying to adapt to this?

FWIW, I’m in my late twenties, and have an iPhone.

ML-585 11:15 am 01 May 10

fgzk, the forum of which you speak is on ACTBus.net — “The Retired ACT Transport Employees Club” is a sub-site but is not the host of the forum.

p1, they can’t use RFIDs because the card actually stores information (such as balance and trip history etc.) which needs to updated at each boarding. RFIDs only send data, not update.

Sir P, I’m not sure whether on bus top-ups will be allowed. The ACTION web page (http://www.action.act.gov.au/myway.html) mentions Autoload (direct debit), B-Pay and reload agents but no mention of on bus top-ups. They don’t mention it’s not available, just don’t mention it at all. Also no mention of whether there will be a deposit on the card as occurs with the Go card.

fgzk 7:35 pm 29 Apr 10

Seeing as my favourite bus site “The Retired ACT Transport Employees Club” referenced RA with “here we go again” and a link to this thread I thought it only fair to return the link. They have some good information on how they think the “MyWay” (smartcard)system will work including pricing and failing to swipe off.

Here you go guys. Love your work.

http://actbus.net/forum/index.php?topic=2430.msg21777;topicseen#msg21777

karun 3:57 pm 29 Apr 10

I do not know why they dont adopt the same system as in Germany. Where tickets are paper based. But you put them once only into a machine that stamps the date on. The driver does not check the tickets, and it is rare for people not to buy one. There are no barriers and it is efficient.

Sir Pompously 1:17 pm 29 Apr 10

I do not know why some people are against a Smart Card based ticketing system. For the issue of the oldies using the card, every other city in Australia (And even the world) has seemed to be able to get around this by education. Remember alot of oldies are still quite switched on, and kids even more so! They will get it easily.

The system is near identical to the one in Perth, using Wayfarer smartcard technology. Tag on, tag off simply for the reason of passenger movement data collection (And helps implement a zonal based fare system later on). One reader will be located at the front door, one reader located opposite the rear door. The drivers console will allow for top-ups, and has a reader attached. Having used smartrider and GoCard, both systems are easy to use. Smartrider even more so as it works out the fare you require. Go Card just charges flat fares through, and will give you a discount when you reach ten tags and allows for Transfers. Eventually you will be able to purchase ticket types on Go Card. I also have a MyKi but have not had the chance to use it yet. Myki has had alot of bad media attention, but it will probably end up on of the best in Australia (Simply because it can be used all over the state and not just in the city and suburban areas).

NickD said :

Ryan said :

The current delivery of MAN Buses means a gain of 40 buses on top of the existing fleet

On that topic, there were a large number of buses parked at the old Woden bus depot this afternoon – this was the first time I’ve seen ACTION buses there for years. They all looked like the newer models.

ACTION Woden Depot now houses Special Needs Transport (Those little white Hino’s and Rosa’s) and some newer buses have made it into the depot aswell (Probably due to there being no room elsewhere for them).

I Personally cannot wait for MyWay. I like the cashless system, it saves me having to carry around mountains of coins in a George Costanza wallet.

astrojax 11:07 am 29 Apr 10

i can just see the action system charging you for riding the same bus until the change of shift / end of day if you don’t swipe off!

disaster looms.

vg 10:23 pm 28 Apr 10

4 million people a day do it in Hong Kong, shouldn’t be too hard for the how many that catch buses here every day. Christ you can catch a train, bus, tram and shop at 7-Eleven on your Octopus card over there (plus many other things).

The only glaring difference is they have their shit together in Hong Kong

peturbed_but_pretty 10:16 pm 28 Apr 10

wanna talk about archaic systems – in Edinburgh, Scotland one must provide the correct change, and ONLY the correct change when alighting a bus. This means you either have to plan well in advance (ie: lunchtime to go home), tip the bus company the difference or run up and down the bus seeing if anyone has change (as I had to do on occasion).

Apparently it is to make the buses run on time, but I am sure that some solution, such as Smartcards, could be implemented instead!

Rant over.

NickD 10:13 pm 28 Apr 10

Ryan said :

The current delivery of MAN Buses means a gain of 40 buses on top of the existing fleet

On that topic, there were a large number of buses parked at the old Woden bus depot this afternoon – this was the first time I’ve seen ACTION buses there for years. They all looked like the newer models.

TP 3000 9:41 pm 28 Apr 10

switch said :

How will you be required to swipe off to get out? Is there some sort of physical barrier? I don’t see the driver getting out of his seat to chase you to get you to come back and swipe your ticket if you just jump off. Pardon me if this should all be obvious – I haven’t caught a bus in Canberra.

The system in Perth is that you will be charged a default fare. So if you only catch the bus from Woden to City & not tag off in the City & take a ride in a friends car. When you tag on the next time a default fare, which would add up to roughly a daily ticket would be deducted instead of a one way ride.

mcs 9:21 pm 28 Apr 10

Yawn until someone can comprehensively prove that light rail will go anywhere near paying for itself in a reasonable pay back period, light rail will never happen. The only thing that will make it is if the federal government kicks in a large chunk of the setup costs.

Anyway back to smartcards- there is nothing to stop them putting a smartcard reader just near the back door for getting out at the interchange. It is hardly an inconvenience at all- I have used the HK system and also the Oyster system in London, and it barely makes any recognisable difference to 99% of people in terms of how long it takes to get off the bus. Once people are used to it, they will do it as second nature- I’d expect it probably is a sign that in future there will be variable pricing introduced, which is another good move.

Action do a lot of things wrong, but I think it is long overdue and certainly see it as a positive move,especially seeing the current stone age ticketing setup has to be replaced as pointed out earlier in the thread.

roesljas 9:16 pm 28 Apr 10

There wouldn’t be a barrier, and unless you had to touch off at your stop so you only got charged for the distance you travelled then there is no real reason for you to touch off nor would they have much leverage to make you do so. Unless they debited a fee for not touching off but thats a bit harsh if it is only for statistical info.

Ian 8:30 pm 28 Apr 10

switch said :

How will you be required to swipe off to get out? Is there some sort of physical barrier? I don’t see the driver getting out of his seat to chase you to get you to come back and swipe your ticket if you just jump off. Pardon me if this should all be obvious – I haven’t caught a bus in Canberra.

People seem to be able to manage it in places like Singapore. Of course it helps that they are organised usually to get on the front door and off the back door, and have distance based fares and charge you the maximum fare till the end of the route if you don’t bother swiping off.

Its really not that hard to cope with.

It would be a crime if ACTION didn’t take the implementation of a smart card ticketing system as an opportunity to bring in a more reasonable fare structure, ie distance based.

Pandy 7:28 pm 28 Apr 10

Mkyi smart card in Victoria has been a disaster. Hundreds of millions just on consultancy fees and promotion and it does not work.

Light Rail: Expensive. It has just cost the SA government $100 million to build 2.8km of dual tramway track.

geoffrah 7:24 pm 28 Apr 10

The swipe off is targetted at getting better information on travel patterns – so that ACTION can use this to better plan and tailor their services. Knowing where people get on is only half of the story !

In terms of the swipe off – I don’t think there will be anything to stop you from not swiping when you get off – the incentive to swipe off will be in the price deducted from card (ie. if you don’t swipe off then you will incur the maximum charge for your journey).

The system is based off the one used in Perth – which seems to have had few issues, and is relatively proven technology (unlike the trouble plagued systems like Myki in Melbourne).

Ryan 6:06 pm 28 Apr 10

MrPC said :

It’s hard to imagine why they would need people to tag off under our fare structre.

It’s not so much working out the number of passengers on a route (the present system already does that), but it’s more working out where exactly they are getting on and off the buses so that the information can be used to design better routes.

sepi said :

the money this has cost them could have paid for a few more drivers and buses. they need to concentrate on getting more buses out there, not tinkering around with these frills.

The current delivery of MAN Buses means a gain of 40 buses on top of the existing fleet

damien haas said :

Making everyone walk down to the front door to exit the bus – including those who sit right at the back who wait until the bus coms to a complete stop before getting out of their seat and walking to the front door.

There’s a tag on/off machine at the rear doors too.

NickD 5:58 pm 28 Apr 10

knockknock-eggman said :

Why the negativity ? It seems like the natural progression to me.

I agree. Given that this is now mature technology and Canberra’s flat fee structure for buses couldn’t be simpler, the risks associated this this are low, particularly in comparison to the benefits. I spend about 10 minutes a day sitting in intertown buses at Civic and Woden while people use the current slow machines, so a quick smartcard system has real potential to shorten my daily commute.

smallfry 5:56 pm 28 Apr 10

Switch: No barrier, but in other systems I’ve used, there’s a financial penalty for failing to swipe off when you alight. So it’s in commuters’ interests to remember to swipe off. For example, in Perth, if you don’t tag off within the 1.5 hour travel window then you’re charged as if you went the maximum number of zones. I guess in the ACTION context, a forgetful commuter could be charged for an all-day pass …

On another note, I wonder whether this will mean that the back doors of buses will be used at all stops, rather than just at interchanges ? Or will buses only have one smartcard reader at the front ?

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