Overflow gates for Myki: a half arsed solution?

If you visit this blog regularly, my previous posts about Melbourne’s half arsed Myki rollout leading to congested stations should be familiar to you. Back in March I wrote about troubles at the City Loop ticket barriers, and in April I detailed the rollout of the long term capacity fix for suburban stations.

Today I follow a similar theme – the short term fix being applied to City Loop stations to address the growing Myki queues each morning.

Four FPDs installed beside the Elizabeth Street entry for overflow traffic at Flinders Street Station

In a move made public on April 26, the interim solution selected by the Transport Ticketing Authority was the installation of additional Myki-only readers in parallel to the existing ticket barriers. TTA chief executive Bernie Carolan said at the time:

The readers will be located near fenced areas that will be opened at the discretion of Metro staff to assist passengers with exiting safely and as quickly as possible.

The rollout was underway at Parliament station by May 1, when four FPD stands were installed in front of a bypass gate, on the Lonsdale Street concourse. The initial announcement said that 27 readers would be installed, but the actual count installed so far is only 22:

Current status
Eight at Parliament Four at Flagstaff
Four FPD stands installed in front of a bypass gate, at the south end of Parliament station That was quick: Flagstaff station overflow gate already fitted with FPDs
Four at Flinders Street, Elizabeth St end Six at Southern Cross, Collins St end
Only 2 of the 4 overflow FPDs in use during evening peak at the Elizabeth Street end of Flinders Street Station Six FPDs set up beside the overflow gate at the Collins Street end of Southern Cross

Where have the missing five Myki FPDs gone of the promised 27? Hopefully not forgotten in a box somewhere!

One month on from the first deployment, the use of the stand alone readers still seems to confuse some commuters, such as this woman at Southern Cross. With the ticket barriers in the normal locked position, she seems a little worried that walking through a open overflow gate is somehow fare evading.

Passenger confused by the Myki-only overflow gate at Southern Cross

From my travels I have found the usage of the overflow gates differs between stations, with the majority only bringing them into use during morning peak, with the readers being covered during the day by a vinyl cover with ‘Not in Use’ printed upon it, and secured with a padlock.

The exception seems to be the Elizabeth Street entrance of Flinders Street Station, where I have seen the gate opened up for outgoing passengers of an evening, leaving the existing Frankenbarriers for incoming passengers, who would otherwise queue over the road.

Afternoon queues to enter Flinders Street Station banking up onto Elizabeth Street

I also witnessed a more concerning usage pattern at Southern Cross a few mornings ago: as soon as the clock ticked over to 9 AM, the station staff closed the gate and started covering each reader with the ‘Not in Use’ cover.

9 AM on the dot - time to close the overflow gates at Southern Cross for the day

Meanwhile in the background another swarm of passengers converge on the barriers, backing up towards the escalators.

Who cares if the crowds are still there: management wants the barriers closed!

To ensure what I saw was not a one off, I returned to Southern Cross at 9 AM yesterday morning, to see a different staff member locking up the overflow Myki readers.

9 AM lockup for the overflow gates appears to be normal procedure at Southern Cross

Presumably management at Metro Trains have decreed that the ticket barriers need to be locked up dead on 9 AM, and passengers stuck in queues can go get stuffed?


This morning I spotted the ‘lock up a 9 AM’ for the third day running.

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8 Responses to “Overflow gates for Myki: a half arsed solution?”

  1. Andrew says:

    Perhaps Metcard is being held onto for too long. I am more familiar with trams and so few people seem to use Metcards now. Surely stations should now be catering to the majority rather than the minority of those who use Metcards. PTV has rather forced Myki recently, yet they are apparently not ready to deal with the numbers using it.

    • Marcus says:

      The entire rollout plan for Myki is a shemozzle, particularly the Myki-only ticket barriers. The first units didn’t get installed until January 2011, and even now reports on Twitter suggest the crash often, with the software that runs them still needing fixing. You would think that by this late stage they should be as stable as the rest of the equipment. With the proportion of Myki users increasing all of the time, they really need to rip out almost all of the old Metcard barriers at the city stations, and replace them with the Myki ones.

      However, replacing the barriers one-for-one won’t help cut the queues by much. The quantity of Metcard equipment installed back in the late 1990s was intended to cater for the patronage back then, plus whatever future growth the Public Transport Corporation thought to cater for. The same issue probably applies to the quantity of Myki equipment – that contract was put to tender in 2004 and signed in mid 2005 – since then patronage has grown by around 10% year each year:

      With the number of passengers increasing every year, having the same number of ticket barriers we had a decade ago just isn’t enough.

  2. Daniel says:

    From what I’ve seen, they close up the overflow gates just after 9am at Flagstaff too. Even after that, you do sometimes get multiple train arrivals causing queues.

    • Marcus says:

      I haven’t passed through Flagstaff at the right time to see the gates getting closed, but it wouldn’t surprise me. They seem to be a station where they close the ticket barriers when the concourse clears, then reopen them when the crowds build up again.

      I’m not sure why the decided the 9 AM cutoff was a good idea – when trains get delayed we end up with rather packed trains arriving into the city after that time, which just clog up the station.

  3. Andrew says:

    While the locals may not agree, after watching two different shows about London’s Tube, they do seem to know how to manage crowds in relatively small stations.

  4. […] an interim fix additional overflow gates were added at stations, but it took until 2014 for the first faster ticket gates to be rolled […]

  5. […] gates having been installed in an attempt to handle crowds, but often went […]

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