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THE crush of myki users queuing to exit rail stations has reached the suburbs as increasing numbers of travellers switch to the troubled ticketing system.
The Baillieu government has come under fire from public transport advocates for failing to plan for the soaring demand, with the Public Transport Users' Association slamming the ''illogical'' distribution of myki readers.
But the Transport Ticketing Authority has pledged to install new gates, increase the number of readers at stations and redesign some stations to ease the crush by the end of the year.
The suburban squeeze is reflected in the authority's figures that show the number of myki touch-ons has soared 16-fold at Laverton in Melbourne's west while it is up seven-fold at Oak Park in the northern suburbs.
The revelations follow safety fears on Friday that forced Metro to open the gates at Flagstaff when large crowds waited to ''touch-off'' their mykis, just days after Metcard weekly and monthly tickets were withdrawn from sale.
Other measures taken to encourage passengers to switch to the $1.35 billion system include scrapping the sale of Metcards at some stations, moves that have seen the number of touch-ons across the network grow from around 200,000 a week in March 2010 to 1.7 million a week last month.
But despite the gradual growth, association president Daniel Bowen said he had received reports recently of passengers having to queue for several minutes at stations such as Werribee and Sunshine because of long waits to touch-off.
He said there were regular queues at some stations such as McKinnon because it had just one reader on a platform while neighbouring station Bentleigh has five, fuelling his fears that there has been little thought put into planning.
''It is illogical … and the single reader at McKinnon broke down last week, which meant people couldn't touch-off at all,'' he said.
''It is getting worse and going to keep getting worse until they put in enough readers to cope.
''[The government] should have moved on this more quickly … they must have known [measures] would result in a big increase of people using myki.''
Authority chief Bernie Carolan said passenger delays at stations with gates, such as those in the city and some major suburban stations, were caused because those gates were not originally designed as touch points for myki.
But he said the gates had been kept because of ongoing Metcard use and they would be replaced by the end of the year with myki-only gates that would function better.
Moves to increase the number of myki readers at stations from 1000 to 1300 began last year and would be finished by the end of this year, he said.
He added that the design of many stations was inadequate to cope with passenger numbers and said some stations would be redesigned to improve entry and exit points but did not give any more detail.
He said it was likely ticket barriers at some stations would continue to be opened to cope with the crush for short periods of time while he countered accusations of poor planning.
''No one outside of the entities working on the project fully understand the intricacies, complexities and interdependencies that exist with regard to installing a new ticketing system while also having to operate an existing ticketing system alongside it,'' he said.
â– The cost of the Baillieu government's review of the myki system has blown out by more than a third.
Shortly after gaining power at the 2010 election, the state government commissioned accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu to advise it on whether or not to retain myki. The firm initially charged $242,000 for the review, but documents released to the Victorian Greens under freedom of information reveal the cost soon grew to $348,000, due to an extension in the time taken to complete the report. The Greens are in court, trying to access the report.
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