Metcard - Bus Issues

Page last modified/checked: Saturday, 25 September, 2004
All Metcard bus issues were initially identified by the prefix "089", (now "090") and share the same front designs as found on the rest of the system. Drivers "top-up" their ticket stock from the depot clerk on an as need basis and the serial numbers are recorded against their name. From our observation there are noticable differences between bus issues and the remainder of the Metcard system. This clearly suggests that there is a different channel for the printing and distribution of Metcards for the bus companies. Firstly all tickets are supplied precut, (as opposed to joined strips) in boxes of 500 (as opposed to 1000 for TVMs and BOMs). Until the arrival of the Magnadata series, bus issues basically followed the standard Metcard numbering and designator sequences. The Magnadata tickets broke this pattern whereupon the J-e & J-f designators are exclusive to bus issues. If this isn't enough, the curious appearance of the 162,000,000 number group (standard design with "C" designator), the 254,000,000 number group (again, standard design with "C" designator) and the more mysterious standard design with either "S1" & "S2" designators, (all short lived), were used only for bus issues. There appears to be some 1650 (or thereabouts) "089" (now "090") machines in use, as tickets from 089 01001 (now 090 1001) to a highest of 089 02643 (now 090 2695) have been seen.

As mentioned in more detail in the public field trials section, the public first came into contact with Metcard on selected Eastern Suburbs bus routes in August 1996. The Public Field Trial map shows that apart from this initial demonstration, still further bus routes were included into the overall testing of Metcard in the public arena.

On boarding a bus to purchase a ticket, a request is made to the driver who then keys these requirements into an "AES DATAFARE 2000 keypad". This data is electronically transferred to the validator which is placed adjacent to the keypad. After the monetary transaction, the driver hands the passenger a BLANK valueless Metcard which is then inserted into the validator, where in a matter of seconds, the ticket is encoded, printed, validated and returned to the passenger. During the early stages of the implementation of Metcard across the bus system, the bus driver would lean across and insert the ticket into the validator themselves as a means of demonstrating that this process would be something that the passengers would soon have to learn to do themselves. Melbourne buses are fitted with a single validator, the same design to those found on trams. However, the bus validators are required to perform a greater range of duties than their tram counterparts, belied by their compact appearance.

Validator and Drivers keypad
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Drivers keypad
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Note that the system shown here has been de-activated and the Drivers portable memory device has been removed from the slot above the keypad. The portable memory device is a personal issue to all drivers and records their transactions for downloading to the bus depot computer. The keypad is pre-programmed with all ticketing and fare requirements as well as the zonal overlaps and boundaries for the routes relevant to that bus depot. The Driver must advise the equipment when these boundaries are crossed. The latter information is accessed via the up and down arrow buttons and is displayed on the LED panel (upper right), as are all other keyboard operations. These machines are also capable of producing a range of paper printouts from the narrow slot on the left. Four examples of these are known and include:

*Thermal printer self test

*Start portion report

*Ticket cancel slip

There are two varieties of ticket cancel slips detailed as follows:
In the first instance; after a driver has keyed in the passengers ticket requirement, there is a 15 to 20 second period during which the blank ticket must be inserted into the validator for the information to be transferred. If another passenger boards and places their ticket into the validator during this time, the information is cancelled and the intended Metcard becomes a "non-sale". This ticket is retained by the driver and a ticket cancel slip is printed out, both are returned to the depot clerk.
In the second instance; if a driver issues an incorrect ticket, he must keep it and also produce a ticket cancellation slip within a specified time.

The Short Trip ticket

The short trip ticket is available from bus drivers for travel over no more than two sections within Zone 1 only and is only sold as a paper ticket. Also shown is a pre-encoded 10 Short Trip ticket which is validated by the passenger each time they board a bus (or tram) and as a consequence, the route number as well as the section boarding point are printed during the validation process.

Short trip ticket

Pre-encoded 10 Short Trip ticket validated
purely on Western Suburbs bus routes

The 090 machine designators

Commencing late October 2001, a new designator (090) was found. It is now known that apart from coinciding with the fitting of validators to National buses, it signified a general upgrade of Metcard software across the entire metropolitan bus fleet. This resulted in some minor re-arrangement of the buttons on the driver's key pad but the original machine housing was retained.

(Added 6/10/2002): All bus issues now show "090" designators.


During 2004, a number of bus issues have been found with numbers lower than 01001, possibly suggesting an error occurred when maintenance was done on the machine, or perhaps another unknown reason?