Melbourne, as many people will be aware, has been in the process of unveiling a new, fancy integrated ticketing system to replace the old magnetic tickets. Just like Sydney’s Tcard, the MyKi has suffered cost blowouts and delays, and since its release has been marred by lack of broad take-up in the community, and problems to do with functionality and billing, for those that have. Sydney’s Tcard on the other hand never made it to full roll-out and was scrapped instead.

Some have pointed to the inherent problems of the system as the cause of the failings; the reinventing of the wheel when it comes to devising the technology, the lack of need for the system given that the Metcard is already an integrated ticketing system, the lack of financial incentive for the user to adopt the system (indeed, the user is discouraged from adopting the system because the card itself requires a deposit), or the lack of support for tourists and infrequent transport users.

But I propose that there’s a deeper seeded reason for the failings of the MyKi, which will also explain the failings of the Tcard.

Some of the Snapper card formats on offer

If we turn our attention to some of the more successful systems, then we see that the Oyster card (London) works well, has a financial incentive in that it’s cheaper, and more complicated fare structures are done away with, and allows the user to have a single card that works for all modes of transport. Wellington’s Snapper (pictured above) similarly works well and successfully integrated the various forms of transport in New Zealand’s capital and has enjoyed a high rate of uptake.

And finally Hong Kong’s Octopus card, which was the first integrated chip-based ticketing system in the world, and arguably the most successful. With the Octopus, the user can choose from different formats – why does it need to be a standard sized card? You can get small keyring based Octopuses with mobile phone straps, and younger users might be more at home with little Rilakkuma designs (pictured below).

Some of the options for the Octopus card

I think it’s quite obvious what’s wrong with MyKi and the Tcard: they haven’t used marine animals in their names. In the interest of helping out the common good, I’m hereby making some suggestions to the Victorian and New South Wales Governments:

  • Mullet Card
  • Grunter Card
  • Red Herring
  • Blobfish
  • White Whale

If any government representatives would like to buy any of these names from me, feel free to leave a comment below and make an offer.

<update date=”April 21, 2011″>
It was suggested to me last night that a nice marine themed name that also captures the incompetence of the roll-out is fail whale.
</update>