Metcard - The Retail Network

Page last modified/checked: Monday, February 16, 2004

The retail network comprising initially of authorized newsagents, 7-11 stores, Amcal chemists, mixed businesses and the various Met shops, had been established to take effect from 1st December 1989. The style of tickets sold were the now-infamous "scratch-tickets", which were finally withdrawn from sale on the 1st January 2002. Many of these outlets were established along transport corridors, as it was the Governments intention to eliminate tram conductors and reduce manning at railway stations. At a later date, the Government abolished ticket sales on board buses and trams, and replaced them with a series of "Single Journey tickets". Some of these tactics were extremely unpopular, however, the retail network was tailored to reinforce the Governments philosophy of encouraging off-system sales. It was this network which Metcard was able to utilize and expand on. It may be suggested that one of the reasons why daily tickets are not sold on board trams was to indirectly encourage the establishment of further retail outlets along tram routes. This seems to have been borne out based on the blossoming of outlets beginning with the East Burwood tram route during public field trials in 1996. As from the 5th of January 2004, metcard purchases may also be made on-line from

A box style display and window sticker underneath in colourful surrounds. It appears the box display was developed at a very early stage as the ticket depicts the three arrows design, which was used primarily for test tickets. The box has also been seen used as a mobile, and as a flat display.


This is the cover of a comprehensive fold-out sheet listing all metropolitan retail outlets and maps of the rail and tram system. It was distributed across Melbourne in April/May 1999 at the same time as a series of newspaper adverts were promoting the covenience of purchasing tickets from retail outlets.

The tickets issued from retail outlets are known as "pre-encoded" tickets as the details of the availability of the ticket is encoded onto the magnetic strip after its manufacture. The following scans are of the front and back of a pre-encoded issue. The ticketing details are pre-printed on the front and only the validation details appear on the back, making pre-encoded issues instantly recognizable. All pre-encoded issues (to date) are prefixed "127", followed by either 01001 or 01002, then the ticket number. All the generic designs so far seen are 01001. The Melbourne Events series used 01001 and introduced 01002. The Melbourne Food series used both 01001 and 01002, but since then it appears that 01002 has become the standard code for pre-encoded issues. The rail+2 pre-encoded issues (the few that have been found) use "1002", omitting the leading zero; however, later printings revert back to "01002". During July 2001, the first examples of "01003" were found. During March 2002, the first Magnadata pre-encoded tickets filtered into the system. Twelve months previously, the launch of the new blue generic design was used as the opportunity to update the face of the retail sales network. The original flags (as shown at the head of this section) were replaced by a design based on this new generic ticket; cardboard sales aids were updated or abolished (for example, the three dimensional window display shown above is no longer) - this occurred during April/May 2001. This was the first complete makeover since the launch of the Metcard system, and interestingly, publicity material from this time on touted the availability of Melbourne metropolitans 842 retail outlets! The long desired figure of "1,000 outlets" has not yet been reached.

The pre-encoded tickets have featured four different "prefies" 01001, 01002, 1002 and 01003, however the reason for the different numbering codes is unknown. For scans of each of the different "prefixes", click here.

Pre-encoded issue - front

Pre-encoded issue - back

The following examples are typical of issues from retail outlets equipped with bar code readers such as chemists and newsagents. This would entail making up labels for each individual ticket and type held.

From March 2002, with the arrival of the Magnadata International pre-encoded tickets, the bar code is now pre-printed on the rear of the ticket. These tickets are supplied pre-cut so there are no serations on the ticket ends.

Note: the small number on the lower right hand corner. This appears to be an identification number for each ticket type sold through the retail network, and probably assits with the re-ordering of ticket stock. While many of these numbers are yet to be found, we think the sequence can be deciphered as follows:

2 Hour full zone 1=1
2 Hour full zone 2=2
2 Hour full zone 3=3
2 Hour full zone 12=4
2 Hour full zone 23=5
2 Hour full zone 123=6
2 Hour concession zone 1=7
2 Hour concession zone 2=8
2 Hour concession zone 3=9
2 Hour concession zone 12=10
2 Hour concession zone 23=11
2 Hour concession zone 123=12
Daily full fares continue the sequence from number 13 to 18, the daily concession issues from 19 to 24, full fare weeklies from 25 to 30, concession weeklies 31 to 36. The 60 plus is numbered 55, the rail + 2 full fare is 73, concession is 74, and full fare 2 hour x 10 start at 77.

The following ticket was probably issued to a job seeker or low wage family for travel to a job interview or some similar purpose. It is a standard pre-encoded "M" series 2-Hour concession Zone 1+2 ticket