Two tram trips trigger a stupid Myki bug

Melbourne’s Myki ticketing system is jam packed full of bugs that only happen on strange edge cases, and the other day I stumbled upon one of the early ones – the “tram touch on is treated as a touch off” bug.

New 'Touch on every time you board' stickers on tram doors

My story

I work in the Melbourne CBD, and the story starts on my lunch break, when I had to make a trip out to South Melbourne to pick up an automatic cat feeder. The route 55 tram was the most convenient option, so I headed down to William Street and boarded tram B2.2056 bound for Domain Interchange. I touched on my Myki and took a seat for the short ride to City Road, where I left the tram at 1:20 PM.

B2.2056 heads south on route 55 along Kings Way at City Road

It was only a short walk to the pet shop, so it didn’t take me long to make my way back to Kings Way with my new cat feeder, allowing me to catch a route 55 tram back towards the city at 1:34 PM.

B2.2056 heads north on route 55 along Kings Way at York Street

I then went to touch on my myki, and it was lucky that I was paying attention – I got a “touched off” message instead! So what the hell is going on?

An explanation

In the case of my short trip along route 55, I had caught the same physical tram (fleet number B2.2056) on both legs of the journey – in the time that I was buying my cat feeder, the tram had headed south to Domain Interchange, changed direction, and then headed back towards the city, ready to pick me up.

The end result was that my second “touch on” attempt was treated as if I had been sitting on the tram the entire time and intending to “touch off”, resulting in the erroneous status change.

I’m not the only one

A few commenters on Daniel Bowen’s blog have encountered the same issue I did:

Andrew on Mon 29 December 2014 at 1:55 pm said:

To repeat an anecdote posted on my blog, a person travelled from the city to Toorak Village ran a errand and caught the same tram back to the city after it had been to the Toorak terminus. He touched on when travelling back and but the reader indicated he was touching off. He had not touched off for the trip to Toorak, so it seemed the tram thought it was still making the same trip. He was concerned that had he not noticed and his ticket was checked, it would indicate he had not touched on

Bonnie on Tue 30 December 2014 at 3:09 pm said:

Andrew, this has happened to me a number of times on Route 19. I often catch a tram from Brunswick or Coburg to run a quick errand in the hospital precinct or at the university, such as returning a book to the library or dropping off supplies at the hospital, before catching a tram northwards again. Because it’s not far to the Flinders St terminus, I sometimes find myself on exactly the same tram heading northwards again. Like your blog correspondent, I am disturbed by the fact that if I’d failed to notice the message on the screen, and an AO had checked my Myki, it would look like I hadn’t touched on for the return trip, when in fact I had.

Myki is supposed to be smart enough to distinguish inbound and outbound journeys on a tram – the driver just has to use their console to reset the system at the end of each trip, avoiding the problem I encountered, but given how often it happens this doesn’t seem to be happening.

it just goes to show – you can’t trust Myki!

'Out of Service / Error Loading Tariff Data' displayed on a Tram Driver Console

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16 Responses to “Two tram trips trigger a stupid Myki bug”

  1. Dave says:

    Yep, this has been going on since myki’s inception.
    Happens a lot to anyone using the tram near the terminus of the line for short trips, as you will regularly get the same tram coming back along the route that you used to get to the shops (or wherever).
    Since trams never reverse in normal operation, it’s unclear why the ‘reset’ can’t be hardwired to the closure of the cab, or similar. Or a GPS reminder for the driver that direction has reversed, did they want to reset the console?

  2. Kevin says:

    Wouldn’t the history show all the touch ons and offs? So no need to worry about inspectors, I’m sure they would realise (unless I’m too trusting! ). The charged price, though, could be an issue.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The travel history on your myki would show the truth, but the having to explain a system bug to ticket inspectors isn’t something the average passenger shouldn’t be expected to do.

  3. Craig says:

    By design, the tram equipment should reset everyone as touched off as the tram departs the terminus for the next trip. You wouldn’t want it to be soley determined by the driver – if he updated his console onto the next trip before changing ends, that could also cause issues.

    However, the way it needs to work for the buses has created the problem – there are several examples where passengers remain onboard through a terminus, either where the bus does a loop (eg 465 at Kelior East, 441 at Westleigh Gardens) or where interlining between two routes is by design (eg 10 into 14 in Geelong, 824 into 825 at Moorabbbin, soon 151 into 170 at Tarneit, etc)

    If you reset everyone as touched off at the end of the Route 10 trip, you can imagine you’d have the reverse issue, where people would board a bus in Norlane, then alight at Deakin Uni would be touching on again as they alight at Deakin Uni…

    I think the orbitals also are not intelligent to work out a 3 or 4 hour trip is possible and touch you on again at your destination – maybe I’ll test that out for you sometime.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      With the ongoing deployment of myki gates to non-CBD stations, and the piss poor service frequency outside of peak hours, it is possible to exceed the 2 hour limit with a late night cross city rail journey – leaving you unable to exit the station!

      • mich says:

        “With the ongoing deployment of myki gates to non-CBD stations, and the piss poor service frequency outside of peak hours, it is possible to exceed the 2 hour limit with a late night cross city rail journey

        • Marcus Wong says:

          Looks like the ‘all night travel after 6pm’ benefit still exists:

          However I believe the gates still have the bug where if you try to touch off more than 2 hours after touching on, it won’t let you out. I’ve had people at work run into this scenario when the train network heads up shit creek, and their hour long suburban train trip turns into a two hour one.

  4. Craig says:

    I should also add, quite common for bus drivers to update their console for the next trip before arriving into a terminus – often see that on a myki statement, alight the bus at the end of the route, your touch off is shown for the next route the bus will be going onto

  5. Andrew says:

    No, it is not a driver task to reset the system at the end of each trip. Once the tram has been allocated its run when it leaves the depot, everything else happens automatically, or doesn’t as in this case.

  6. Somebody says:

    I’m quite interested in the concept of this automatic cat feeder – is it an electronic, time based device?

  7. Tristan says:

    Even though you have “touched off” its still valid for two hours from when you touched on.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The system creates a “2 hour fare product” when you touch on:

      But if have are touched off, I don’t think they will consider your ticket valid.

      • Tristan says:

        But you’ve paid for the two hour product, so it’s not fare evasion

        • James A says:

          This is something that’s always interested me. If you’ve already paid for the product, are you fare evading? I’ve got a yearly Myki Zone 1+2 pass, which I have of course paid entirely in advance. So if I got on a tram, didn’t touch on and was questioned by a ticket inspector, am I fare evading or not? My pass would cover the entire route of the tram, and I’ve already given the money to the government, so I would assume it is not fare evasion. However, I don’t want to take the risk of a headache with a ticket inspector, a potential fine or even a court notice just to prove my hypothesis.

          • Tristan says:

            As long as you activate the pass at the start then you never have to touch onto trams after that. I’ve had mine checked multiple times and never been questioned. Also if you put your active pass onto a myki check machine it shows as touched on. Only time you need to touch on is metro train travel where the touch off requires exit via ticket gates. Gates won’t let you out if you didn’t touch on.

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