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Information and images for this article have been sourced
from the Unofficial History of Metcard website and Yarra
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
Metcard's journey began in 1993, with competing bidders putting
forward their plans to operate Melbourne's Automated Fare
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.
An update to staff in October 1993 (pictured left) was issued
after the OneLink consortium was named as the successful
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
"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.
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
A few hours later the first myki-only trams left their depots
and a new chapter in Melbourne's public transport ticketing history
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
The information contained above is correct to the best of
our knowledge. However if you have any comments or corrections
please contact us.