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Fair Move: 08 Ticketing that supports reform

Recommendations
  1. Discontinue myki Passes (unlimited travel over a specified time period for a fixed fee) to facilitate fare reform and remove complexity.
  2. Review the level of the daily fare cap when using myki Money.
  3. Open up the ticketing system to third parties. Third parties should be enabled to hold accounts for purchasing travel on behalf of travellers, including for Mobility as a Service.
  4. Make the ticketing system easier to use by:
    a) Reducing or removing the myki card purchase fee
    b) Allowing other inputs for validation through an account-based system (such as credit and debit cards).
  5. Develop a set of principles to guide concession design, followed by a review of all discounts, removing or adding concessions as necessary.

We have proposed a range of fare reforms that will make better use of the public transport network, improve road congestion and increase travel choice.

However, these reforms must be accompanied by a ticketing system that aids the new fare structure and makes travel easy.

The 2023 re-tender of the public transport ticketing system presents a good opportunity for wider reform of system.

Ticketing that reflects fare reform

There are two methods for paying for public transport travel using myki.

The first and most popular method is myki Money. Under myki Money, a user pays the fare for each trip, subject to fare caps for travel within two hours (myki Money 2-hour fare) and within a day (myki Money daily fare). The second method is myki Pass, which enables users to pay a fixed fare for unlimited travel within a certain time period (seven days or anywhere between 28 and 365 days).

In terms of ticketing familiarity, myki Pass has been found to be confusing to passengers, with 42% of people on myki Money not knowing of myki Pass.[15] Research has also showed that the pass system is confusing for tourists (Yang et al., 2016) and that 65% of people were not on the optimum ticket.[16]

Not only can myki Pass be confusing, but it also does not support providing incentives for travellers to make the best choice about time, mode and route for each trip they make. The reason for this is that travellers on a myki Pass pay a fixed fee for travel during a given week, month or year, meaning that their travel choices will be unaffected by incentives to contribute to reduced public transport crowding or to support delivery of the best services at the lowest cost (such as peak and mode-based pricing).

The myki Pass also doesn’t benefit equity outcomes. Frequency of travel is fairly evenly distributed across the five income quintiles;[17] however, the Pass is only available to those with the cashflow to purchase a large amount of travel in advance. The more paid in advance, the greater the discount.[18]

To support public transport fare reform, we propose that the metropolitan myki Pass be discontinued, enabling all users of the transport network to take advantage of incentives for better use of the system, not just those who do not use it regularly. Similarly, the level of the daily cap for myki Money should be reviewed so that additional trips typically face an additional cost.

[15] Quantum Research (2017) PTV Customer Tracker, Quarter One (July to September)

[16] Quantum Research (2017) PTV Customer Tracker, Quarter One (July to September)

[17] Department of Transport Survey, 2019

[18] Seven day myki Pass compared to monthly myki Pass and 365 day myki Pass and Commuter club.

A more flexible ticketing system

The current public transport ticketing contract arrangements mean that the ticketing system is relatively inflexible and costly to adjust, a potential barrier to fare reform.

As the Victorian Government prepares for the myki re-tender due in 2023, enhanced flexibility to allow for the development of third-party purchasing platforms, validation, barrier systems and more sophisticated ticketing and fares for public transport should be part of contract discussions.

Victorians would be able to use online platforms (such as a single app) to plan, book and pay for a complete journey in one transaction, covering both public and private transport services.

The transport app that has it all

The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) operates public transport within the Greater Helsinki region in Finland, including the local buses, trams, metro trains and ferries.

As an alternative to single use tickets and daily passes, a private operator, MaaS Global, created the Whim app – allowing users planning, validation and payment access to all city transport services including public transport, bike share, car share, ride hail and e-scooters.

Not only was this a step towards improving transport flexibility and choice for consumers (see Reform with MaaS section), but it was also a shift in the way government transport operators could work with private developers and service providers.

Ultimately, HSL introduced one of the world’s first open retail interfaces for tickets. This meant that in addition to the ubiquitous journey planner and real-time public transport vehicle data, HSL’s new API data sharing agreements allowed for real-time ticketing payments.

With this development, private service providers and developers could make HSL mobile tickets available to their own customers through their own portals, just like Whim.

Sources:

Open up third-party access to the public transport ticketing system

Along with recommendations around different fares for different modes and fares that reflect the time of travel, we also recommend improvements to the user experience for all who travel using Melbourne’s public transport network.

This will help ensure that the introduction of a more sophisticated and flexible fare structure does not mean it becomes any harder for all travellers – including tourists – to plan, calculate, use and pay for transport services.

To open up the public transport ticketing system, we recommend that the Victorian Government allow third parties to hold accounts on behalf of their customers. This would enable an organisation to integrate public transport trips within their own journey planning, booking and billing system, both simplifying and improving the user experience of a complete journey across modes and service providers (both private and public).

At a practical level, this simply means that Victorians would be able to use online platforms (such as a single app or website) to match, schedule, dispatch, plan and buy transport trips, reducing the need to make multiple bookings, consult maps or check timetables.

Providing access to the ticketing system should be done in the most open way practicable, ensuring that multiple providers have the ability to interact with the system – driving innovation and delivering a better customer experience.

As an example, instead of paying with myki for a train trip and then requesting a connecting rideshare service or booking a car rental through an app, a traveller would have the ability to plan, book and pay for the whole journey in one transaction.

New technology and innovation in ticketing infrastructure that could validate users as they board or alight services should also be part of a plan to improve this user experience.

Opening up third-party access to the public transport ticketing system is a shift away from traditional thinking and a significant change to the way ticketing is provided. It would give Victorians greater information on their travel options, more confidence in the fares applicable to their journey and greater flexibility in how they transact transport services. It would also remove barriers towards emerging frontiers in transport – one of these being Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

Reform with MaaS

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a method for people to transition from traditional mass transit and car ownership to transport access on-demand. It is a digital platform in which trip planning, booking, access and payment is integrated across as many (or as few) transport modes as needed, both public and private. It allows a person to easily plan their travel from start to finish, choosing between options such as the fastest, cheapest, easiest or most scenic journey. While journeys can vary in cost and there can be many alternatives, users need never have to worry about working out the details themselves.

MaaS digital platforms are designed not only to provide different options and pricing levels, but also the ability to book a door to door journey on-demand. Platforms may be brokered, run by large transport operators (such as rideshare companies) or operate in an open marketplace. MaaS is seen as having the potential to reduce private car ownership and use, and increase public and active transport use.

The notion of MaaS has been around for a long time. Progress towards MaaS systems has occurred in many aspects of public transport ticketing and travel: today, Victorians can learn about, make choices and interact with transport services through journey planning, live service tracking and digital myki ticketing (and even the release of public transport timetable application programming interface (API) data for developers).[19] The final step is properly integrating the already well-established carshare and rideshare services of the private sector with the mass transit of the public sector, supported by integrated transaction abilities (such as booking, payment and ticketing).

The main benefit of MaaS for fares is that it provides the opportunity to retain pricing efficiency while making journey planning and payment much easier. Ultimately, opening up myki ticketing and removing barriers to MaaS means a greater range of travel planning options for Victorians: options that don’t undermine our principles of ensuring the public transport system is efficient, fair and accessible.

[19] https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/footer/about-ptv/digital-tools-and-updates/mobile-apps/

Make the ticketing system easier to use

There are a series of drawbacks with the current ticketing system when it comes to user experience. Bundled with fare reform, we believe improved user experience can enhance the attractiveness of public transport for all Victorians, as well as improve the transport experience for visitors.

There is a high upfront cost to entering into the myki system – while this is somewhat arbitrary for the frequent commuter, it is a large barrier for casual users as well as tourists attempting to access public transport. A full fare myki card costs $6 and the user must then pay the actual fare amount in addition to the cost of the card.[20] A full fare daily trip costs up to $15 with purchase of the myki card included. This essentially acts as a barrier to entry. myki mobile on Android devices, where the digital myki card is free, solves this issue of high entry costs for some smartphone users; however, complete rollout to all smartphone devices is yet to occur.

myki is also currently restricted to the physical card or digital card with the Google PayTM app. Future improvements could also accept other inputs for validation, including direct contactless payment such as credit and debit cards. This is similar to Sydney’s Opal smartcard system (an `Open Loop’ ticketing system) (Streeting and Howe, undated). Through an account-based system, travellers could also use multiple forms of ID to touch on and off through a myki account, enabling greater convenience.[21]

The PTV app and journey planner can also be improved to make trade-offs clear between price, time and mode of travel. For example, the current Journey Planner does not display peak and off-peak fares for V/line journey options even though the costs vary significantly by service. This hides information from the user that could help them make the best choice on journey time.[22]

The current messaging around touch on and off behaviour in Melbourne is also confusing. Any future ticketing system should aim to make interacting with the ticketing system more consistent across modes and zones.

The current system of ticketing and data collection can be further leveraged to gather insight into transport travel patterns, which could be applied to enhancing the network’s performance and user experience.

This system can be improved by implementing smart technology such as sensors[23] that better enable collected data suitable for transport analysis.

Discounts

Victoria offers a range of concessions and discounts on metropolitan public transport fares.

Concessions are an important part of the pricing of essential services like transport that give people access to education, health and social engagement. Concessions that target those with low access to financial resources are the main contribution to improving equity. Some concessions also enable free travel for those people who are unable to interact with the ticketing system.

The current Victorian set of concessions and free fares benefit a range of groups within the community.

These have evolved over time and were introduced in response to specific concerns.

There are currently three types of concession fares:

  1. A 50% discount for certain cohorts (e.g. pensioners, students, Health Care Card holders).
  2. Free travel for certain cohorts, including on certain days of the year (e.g. children under five years of age, veterans, carers).
  3. Free travel for all travellers on certain days of the year.

Within these categories sit a large range of discounts and concessions. Some of these are inconsistently applied, have no obvious economic or social benefits, or have questionable equity benefits. A detailed list of concessional and free travel arrangements is included in our Fare Reform Technical Report.

We believe that to make the best use of discounts on public transport, the Victorian Government should develop a set of principles to guide concession design, and then review all discounts against this set of principles, removing or adding concessions as necessary.

[20] https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/myki/buy-a-myki-and-top-up/

[21] https://blog.masabi.com/blog/what-is-account-based-ticketing

[22] A fare table showing peak and off-peak fares is available under the details of a journey once price is clicked on.

[23] A good example of this is the City of Melbourne’s Pedestrian Counting System, providing live, on-demand data from various pedestrian counters around the city. http://www.pedestrian.melbourne.vic.gov.au/#date= 17-07-2020&time=13

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