Information and images for this article have been sourced from the Unofficial History of Metcard website and Yarra Trams archives.

Metcard1 Metcard3

When Southbank Depot tram 5005 became the last to have its Metcard equipment removed on Thursday 4 July 2013 it ended nearly 20 years of work planning, implenting, operating and eventually decommissioning Melbourne's first automated ticketing system.

Metcard had been turned off for the last time in the early hours of Sunday 30 December, but with a fleet of nearly 500 trams the task of replacing all Metcard Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) wasn't an easy one. Yarra Trams staff could only convert a few trams every day without affecting regular services, but the work is now complete.

Metcard's journey began in 1993, with competing bidders putting forward their plans to operate Melbourne's Automated Fare Collection system.

The picture at the top of page 2 of the 12 August 1993 edition of Public Transport Corporation staff newsletter Turning Point (below) shows an example of what Melbourne ticket machines might have looked like if a different operator had been successful in winning the rights to run the system.

This page of Turning Point also details another milestone in Melbourne's public transport history, the return of trams to weekend services on Routes 3, 57 and 82 after many years of bus replacements.12 August 1993

7 October 1993

An update to staff in October 1993 (pictured left) was issued after the OneLink consortium was named as the successful bidder.

It was a further two and a half years until the first ticket machine was installed, at Ashburton Railway Station, on Monday 22 April 1996 and public field trials of automated ticketing began on buses in the eastern suburbs in August 1996.

The first Metcard enabled trams began running trials on Route 75 trams between the city and East Burwood the next month.

Other depots were progressively switched over to Metcard operation by late May 1998, with the last on-board conductors finishing their shifts in the early hours of Sunday 24 May.

Current Yarra Trams CSE Michael worked as a Metcard Customer Service Host, helping passengers learn how to use the new automated ticketing system.

"Passengers were initially asking lots of questions and needing to understand how the new system operated. We now know that Metcard became very successful" he says.

The hosts were a distinctive presence around Melbourne's public transport network in their bright red jackets, and worked alongside frontline PTC staff to introduce Melbourne to Metcard.

At the conclusion of Metcard's introduction Michael and other Customer Service Hosts were given a commemorative 'key' (pictured below) to thank them for their help.

Little did Michael know that 15 years later he would go through a similar process in helping with the transition to myki, though this time the only 'key' he received was his staff myki pass.

Metcard Key 1

Metcard Key 3

In the early days of the new system tickets were available at railway stations and over 800 retails outlets, but only a limited range were available on trams. The first ticket machines at accessible platform stops were installed on Collins Street in October 2001, and a year later TVMs were upgraded to sell Daily tickets.

Remembered for a number of colourful, unique designs and the many special messages found on the rear of tickets, Metcard survived a number of major changes to the public transport system with minimal alterations to the original product.

Various ticket types came and went through the years, but the system itself lived through the splitting of both train and tram networks into two separate operators, the eventual reunification of both systems, the abolition of Zone 3 and the replacement of Short Trip tickets with the City Saver before eventually being turned off on trams, trains and buses across Melbourne late last year.

Metcard's eventual demise began with the first public field trials of myki in 2007, and in 2008 trams on Route 86 became the first to run with test myki equipment. Passenger myki trips began on trams in 2010, and the system ran alongside Metcard until the early morning of Sunday 30 December last year.

Though it may never be known where and when the last Metcard ticket was bought on a tram, the last tram of the Metcard era was a Route 16D Malvern Depot tram which ran into the depot at approximately 2.46am.

A few hours later the first myki-only trams left their depots and a new chapter in Melbourne's public transport ticketing history began.

AT Update

To assist Public Transport Corporation staff with the transition to Metcard a number of issues of "AT Update" were produced. Existing issues are shown below. Click on each image for a larger version.

Issue 1

ATIssue1ATIssue1.1

Issue 2

ATIssue2ATIssue2.1

Issue 3

ATIssue3ATIssue3.1

Issue 4

ATIssue4ATIssue4.1

Issue 5

ATIssue5ATIssue5.1

Issue 6

ATIssue6ATIssue6.1

Issue 7

ATIssue7

Issue 8

ATIssue8

ATIssue8.1

The information contained above is correct to the best of our knowledge. However if you have any comments or corrections please contact us.

 

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