I was on a tram this morning when a team of nervous looking ticket inspectors boarded, handheld scanners at the ready. The age of Myki has begun.
Whilst the technology used in the Myki system is clearly cutting edge (as it should be for the cost of $1.5 billion), it reminds me of the 80s and early 90s, when I relied heavily on public transport. Back then, if you didn't plan ahead for your trip you could find yourself inadvertantly travelling without a ticket, or missing the train or tram whilst trying to buy a ticket.
This time around, there is no excuse for not having a ticket. The system has been in the news across the country and probably the region for years. It has mostly been negative publicity, but any publicity creates awareness.
Melbourne's overcrowded trams are the latest part of the transport system in Melbourne hit by the Myki rollout. As of 29th of December 2012, commuters can no longer buy a ticket on a tram. In the past, one of the best things about catching a tram in Melbourne was that you could see a tram in the distance and decide there and then that you won't walk after all. Instead, you could decide that you will run for the tram and, with the change in your pocket, buy a ticket and make it to your destination quicker.
So, whilst I have never aspired to be a public transport ticket inspector, with the introduction of Myki the job looks even less appealing. Within seconds of boarding the tram, this morning's inspectors were already in animated discussions with multiple fare evaders with multiple excuses and arguments as to why they didn't have tickets. My favourite was the person handing the inspector the price of a ticket in coins when asked for their ticket. That trick didn't work when I was 13 years old and there's no way it will work today.