A few weeks ago I emailed a formal complaint to the TTA, hoping that they would ignore me and give me reason to take the whole myki overcharging thing to the ombudsman. Unfortunately they were very professional and responsive. Here’s what I wrote:
Dear Sir / Madam,
I am writing to complain about the ongoing overcharging of a significant percentage of myki account holders. I’m the person responsible for the MykiLeaks website, and I find the prospect of having to maintain it for an indefinite amount of time unsatisfactory. Please provide answers to the following questions:
Are you aware that some travel patterns produce overcharges with near consistency?
What is the current accuracy rate for myki on trains, trams and buses respectively?
How do you calculate the accuracy? Is it based on the number of reimbursement requests, or some other means?
Is there likely to be a resolution to the overcharging problem in the form of a system improvement?
If not, will automated account auditing be implemented, such that reimbursements for overcharges occur without request from the user?
They wouldn’t provide me with a written answers to the questions on account of the ‘complexities of the system’, instead they invited me in for a little chit-chat with the TTA’s General Manager of Operations.
So last Monday I left work early to make my way to the TTA’s offices on Collins St, ironically arriving late on account of train problems.
Level 38 of the ANZ building sports a lovely view of the inner city, the buzz of Flinders St and Southbank against a backdrop of St Kilda and Port Phillip Bay in the distance. When I first stepped out of the elevator I thought… ‘well, I guess I could stomach telling my friends I worked for the TTA if I got to hang out here every day’.
A giant myki logo is proudly presented on the glass wall that separates from the lobby from the TTA’s office proper. The place really is presented well. In my dreams I always imagined a chaotic scene of bureaucrats running around yelling at each other, telephones ringing out, some bald guy occasionally poking his head from an office in the corner, swearing at his assistant for not producing the report he asked for 3 minutes ago.
In reality the TTA felt like a buddhist retreat in the clouds. Smiling faces, clean carpet, unscuffed desks and polished glass. I wonder if it’s like that every day?
After some introductions and smalltalk, we got down to the business of overcharging on the myki ticketing system. I wish I had some exciting news to report, but unfortunately the information I learned wont come as much of a surprise. The bottom line as I see it, based on what I learned at the meeting, is:
- Overcharging will continue to occur until Metcard is phased out, at which time buses and trams will magically know what suburb they are in. Something to do with a driver console or some such. Maybe they currently use random number generators.
- The TTA have some form of ongoing system testing in place, in the way of pretend passengers that travel through the network and then check their statements — I hope they use MykiLeaks, that would be so cool.
- There is no automated checking of all customer trip data that alerts myki to a suspected overcharge and flags it for checking.
- As a consequence, there is no automatic refunding of overcharges.
- Implementing automated refunding of every overcharge is not an option, as Kamco / myki / TTA / whoever believe that not every ‘apparent’ overcharge is actually an overcharge. Something about a zone or a GPS thing or something. Yeah I don’t know either.