SmartRider ManI’ve already covered in some detail the Perth Public Transport System. One of the latest (and most highly hyped and widely advertised) improvements to Perth’s public transport was the introduction of the new SmartRider system.

The SmartRider system basically provides travellers with an easy way to pay for travel on any of one of the services offered by Transperth (busses, Trains, Ferrys) using a credit card sized Smartcard that you credit with funds.

Once your card has some cash on it, you simply Tag on, by swiping your card across the smartcard reader, then, when you get to your destination, you Tag off.

The SmartRider system is clever enough to know how long your journey is and charges you accordingly. Sounds good in theory doesn’t it? Well it does when it works!

I’ve been using the SmartRider system for about three weeks now with no issues. For some reason this morning however the SmartRider machines were not operating.

One of the machines at Currambine train station simply said ‘out of order’ whilst a second displayed an “updating software” message to the confused patrons trying to tag on before taking their train journey into work.

A message on the Transperth Website reads:

SmartRider disruptions – all train lines

Effective: 27 March 2007

Transperth wishes to advise that due to a software upgrade malfunction, SmartRider is unavailable on all train lines. During this time, passengers do not need to tag on or tag off train services.

Passengers transferring from bus to train services at controlled stations (Kelmscott, Warwick and Whitfords) are required to tag on and tag off the bus as normal and then tag off at the station. Passenger Ticketing Assistants will be located at these stations to enable passengers to do this.

Transperth is planning to automatically reverse any default fare imposed as a result of the software problem. The adjustment will take place later this week.

Transperth bus and ferry services remain unaffected and passengers are advised to tag on and tag off as normal.

It is anticipated that this issue will take at least 24 hours to resolve. Passengers are asked to check the website for updates. TravelEasy updates will also be sent.

Transperth apologises for the inconvenience.

Now I’m not a particularly great mathematician but I reckon there must be tens of thousands of people who travel into Perth on the trains every morning.

Because the SmartRider system was broken, and so many people have been pushed by Transperth to use the system as a simpler alternative to carrying cash. The only alternative Transperth had for its SmartRider patrons today was to give them free journeys.

Now if this software problem is going to take 24 hours to resolve, it looks like its going to be a very expensive problem for Transperth.

I’m not 100% sure what the problem will be but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s a knock on effect of the Daylight saving ending on Sunday.

I know the implementation at relatively short notice of Daylight saving in Western Australia caused problems for a number of companies when it was introduced for the first time a few months ago.

I’m sure whatever the problem, there will be a few frazzled IT managers at Transperth trying to get things sorted.