Melbourne has had three successive systems where the customer is required to meet the system needs. Scratchies, Metcard and now Myki can all be considered user-unfriendly systems in that they are designed around the system and not the customer. That none of them fully delivered what was intended (scratchies, for example, didn't have the year on them so a good many were retained and used on the same date in a later year) suggests to a half-awake brain that something is fundamentally wrong with the decision-making process.
That we have not learned from previous mistakes - or if lessons nave been learned they have not been applied - is inexcusable. Myki embraces current technology but has been seriously flawed from day one.
Victoria is spending an obscene amount of money on a partially-functional system which is manifestly incapable of delivering what was promised. Large amounts of the hardware lie idle namely tram CVM equipment meaning it is no longer possible to purchase a ticket on a tram despite the hardware being stored ready to fit. Metcard portable readers were similarly never used but were bought and kept fully charged and ready to go for the duration of the system.
We have reached the point at which Peter Bachelor had suggested the cost of a daily fare balances the cost of redeploying station and tramway staff though we have to factor in inflation and suggest that cost equated to today's values might be for an $8 daily cap rather than a $7 daily ticket. The cost of Z1/2 travel has been well above that level for some years now.
Returning staff to the system will benefit more that just revenue collection. Presence of staff can deter unruly and antisocial behaviour and gives the option for someone on the spot to summon 000 assistance if required without delay. It offers security and confidence to the passenger and offers that which we (and other cities) have turned out back on namely face-to-face customer service.
Our railways (suburban and country) are under strain from record patronage. Is it fair to expect drivers, currently the only staff member for miles around on the suburban network in many cases, to cope with every emergency thrown their way? Could network delays be reduced if an unwell passenger were assisted off a train to be placed in the care of a member of station staff (which isn't suitable in all cases but would assist in many minor situations) allowing the train on its way and easing delays to all those behind?
And given that Bracks felt it appropriate to fund on-tram staff whose presence instantly generated positive results and feedback why can we not continue with that initiative? Again is it fair to expect a driver to manage any emergency, answer any number of questions (typically "where / how do I buy a ticket?) which causes avoidable delay and still deliver everyone safely to their destination?
Looking at the bigger picture I believe we cannot afford to ignore the need for many more customer-facing staff. Their primary role might be revenue protection and collection but simply being there suggests to the customer that questions can be answered, complex travel enquiries usually handled face to face, emergency situations dealt with and that the system is SAFE. Far more safe than seeing armed guards about the place who can do little more than p*** people off or arrest them if necessary.