Back to the future?

Back to the future? New ticketing system with a distinctive new name and look to start… in late-1994!

Metcard fare gates with Myki readers

From the Office of the Minister for Public Transport

Public transport customers will soon have a new ticketing system — with a distinctive new name and look — that will assist people’s use of Melbourne’s public transport service, Public Transport Minister Alan Brown said today.

The new ticket, to be called Metcard, will be the key to automated ticketing that will begin its introduction in Melbourne in late 1994/early 1995.

Metcard will be a credit card sized ticket, with a magnetic stripe that will be programmed with information about what type of ticket has been purchased.

Every kind of ticket currently available will be available in Metcard.

This will include the Metcard 10 that offers up to 14 percent discounts and a plastic Metcard with a reprogrammable microchip for easy use by people with disabilities, students and yearly passholders.

Metcard will be able to be purchased at all train stations 24 hours a day, on all trams and buses, and up to 1000 retail outlets.

Mr Brown said this would be a vast improvement on current ticket-selling facilities.

“Metcard will be of enormous assistance to our customers, and has been chosen only after detailed research into the needs of all public transport users, including the disabled, school students and senior citizens,” Mr Brown said.

“To ensure that people understand the benefits of Metcard, a major promotional campaign will begin later this year — about six weeks before the start of Phase 1 of the introduction of automated ticketing.

“Information about Metcard will also be letterboxed in every home as automated ticketing is introduced to public transport throughout Melbourne over an 18 month period.”

Mr Brown said the first stage of automated ticketing will begin with the installation of ticket vending machines on the Glen Waverley and Alamein lines and on trams operating from the Camberwell Depot. Buses operating in these areas will also accept Metcard.

“Melbourne is set to introduce an automated ticketing system which has proven successful in Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong and other major transit systems,” Mr Brown said.

“To ensure our customers get the best service, Melbourne’s public transport service will have an automated ticketing system that is specially designed for all three modes of transport.”

Mr Brown said automated ticketing would also provide valuable information on travel patterns to ensure that public transport met the needs of commuters.

Press release, 5/9/1994

All sounds quite familiar, doesn’t it — even down to calling Metcard “the key”. Not to mention the plastic microchip (and contactless!) cards that never showed up except for staff.

Yesterday they announced that Myki will be arriving in Melbourne by the end of 2009. Of course it’s true that it’ll bring some advantages over Metcard (you’d hope so, given the $1.3 billion cost), and some disadvantages too — scanning-off on each trip! I can hardly wait!

One can only hope that we won’t be going through all this expense again in 15 years. In fact avoiding ever having to do this again is said to be part of the huge cost; building the system from scratch to have open interfaces so bits and bobs can be easily bolted on in the future.

Mind you, it can’t be that hard to do with Metcard, given the old station gates are getting Myki readers on them.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

11 replies on “Back to the future?”

C’mon, they said something similar about the scratchie transport tickets, the paper tickets just before them (that staff had to actually clip) and those little rectangle cardboard tickets in the 1970’s one bought to board a Red Rattler half price return no smoking section economy class to Flinders Street , thank you!

Ugh, I just recalled what it used to be like when you had to show your ticket to an inspector when getting off at suburban stations in peak. At Ormond station, the queue to present your ticket was so congested that it actually prevented people from getting off the train near the gates – I can only imagine it will be worse with Myki while we all swipe off single file…

Surely swiping a card will be quicker than having someone inspect it visually? I’m fairly open to the possibilities of Myki, but now that I don’t travel on peak hour any more, I suppose I have less of an interest.

Jayne, often it’s the fare (rather than the ticket) changes that have more benefit, eg around about the time of the switch to paper tickets was the introduction of integrated ticketing, so you didn’t get penalised for having to change between vehicles to make your trip.

Frank, it depends. Many ticket checkers in the days of paper tickets could check tickets so fast you didn’t even have to slow down as you walked onto the bus/through the ticket gates. I doubt Myki will be that fast, from what I’ve seen of it.

Liz, the saving grace is there’ll be at least two Myki scanners per gate, but still it’s going to be a slow process.

If it’s anything like the Perth system of tag on/off it’s not so bad, they have the readers at the exit points of the station so you don’t clog the doors of the train and the bus has it at both doors.
Plus if you purse/wallet is thin enough you don’t even have to take it out of your bag! How awesome is that!?

What’s the fuss about scanning off? Across the world you need to do that to get the gates to open so you can get out. These readers should be able to scan a Myki off as quickly as the people walk past the gate – there’s certainly no technical reason to prevent that (unless it’s been engineered in). We should be able to just wave our wallets or tickets past the scanners on our way through, hear the right beep and never stop.

Assume you know they’re going to require it even where there is no gate.

Understand the theory of doing it at walking speed, but it’s not yet clear the scanners will respond fast enough to handle that. It didn’t seem to be the case when I tried them in Geelong some months ago. Hopefully they’ve been made faster by the time they get switched on in Melbourne.

Oyster works at (my) walking speed in London. You have to scan on and off (it’s called “Touching in” and “Touching out” here in order to get the correct fare charged and for the Daily Cap to work (will Melbounre have a daily cap, where you stop paying when you reach a certain amount of use per day, in London’s case at 50p less than the price of a One Day Travelcard)?

Incidentally, remember the Met authorities trying to tell me that my (non responsive) weekly ticjet was made of “specially encoded material” (that’s “cardboard to the rest of us) in 2001?! :-)

Yes I can see they’ve been cheapskates forever in not installing gates at every station, and obviously there aren’t enough gates to handle peak loads at stations like Ringwood, where they’re always locked open during the peak.

No comment about the new underground rail network? It will take three times as long to build and cost ten times as much if Kosky is still in charge.

um do they have an SSL certificate? if so it isn’t live.

that is going to annoy very user checking their balance

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