Metcard - The Roll-Out

Page last modified/checked: Saturday, 11 May 2002


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This full page notice appeared in "The Age" on Wednesday 19th November 1997. It signalled the beginning of the roll-out of the greater part of the Metcard system. As the ticket machines were bought into use on other lines (usually 3 to 5 consecutive stations) a similar format advertisement was placed in the local metropolitan papers giving the dates and locations.

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This special edition of Turning Point was the first visible proof to staff that the Victorian Government was prepared to accept the system as provided to date, i.e the "pilot phase", and give the go-ahead for the installation of the remainder of the Metcard system. The wording of the newsletter was an open and honest admission of the debacle that had gone on beforehand, perhaps an unusually frank statement from senior management levels, but one it felt operational staff deserved to know. It is also interesting in that it reveals how the early stages of the roll-out would take place and indeed, is the way they actually did. By this point, ticket vending machines at rail stations in the eastern suburbs and most of the south-eastern area had been installed. The cabling and conduits for the remainder of the rail system were largely also in place. Once the vending machines were connected, from our observation, they were bought into public use in groups of approximately four stations at a time, anti-clockwise across the sytem and from the outer stations inwards. Logically the Werribee / Hoppers Crossing region was the last to receive Metcard.


Following on from Camberwell Depot in September 1996, the rest of the tram system was converted over to Metcard fairly quickly, on a depot by depot basis as follows (where an exact date is known, it is shown):

			Glenhuntly and Malvern	February 1998
			Kew			February 24th 1998
			Preston			March 11 1998
			Southbank		March 31 1998 (Route 96) May 12 1998 (Route 12)
			Essendon		Late May 1998

Much to the delight of the Government (but not the public) this bought to an official end the role and term of Tram Conductor; the last ones being rostered to work on Saturday night/Sunday a.m. of the 23rd/24th May 1998. The Age newspaper actually tracked down the very last conductor (based at Malvern Depot) at the end of his shift and made something of the occasion on the front page of Mondays edition. Some other interesting acknowledgements of the final demise of this human aspect of the tramways system occurred over the following months.... sadly there was no more "FEZ PLIZ".

But this wasn't quite the smooth transition that was hoped for. At the end of June 1998, all "W" class trams were removed from service over a dispute involving the positioning of the ticket machines, a situation that had been brewing over the months prior. The "W" class are the oldest cars in the fleet and last to have the machines installed (meaning the retention of some conductors at Malvern and Glenhuntly depots). It was largely considered unfeasable to modify and impracticable to run these car as a one man vehicle (the City Circle trams were however, proof that it could be done with appropriate modifications). This affected routes 8, 16 and 69. Route 12 was not disrupted largely because of the status of many of the newer part-time Southbank drivers who were prepared to operate with a customer service employee on board. The ticket machines are positioned in the drop centre by cutting a space into the longitudinal seating on one side. Drivers pointed out that this restricted their view of the rear door on that side, and thus was a legitimate safety concern. It was many months before this was rectified by the fitting of an internal mirror system into the saloon and cabs. There are few examples anywhere in the world where ticket selling machines are actually installed on board a street running vehicle.

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