How the Neighbourhoods worked

Page last modified/checked: Friday, 20 May, 2005

The Metropolitan area was divided up into 10 regionalized neighbourhoods, however, these were not necessarily centred directly over the suburb thay were named after. There was a flat fare for travel on all modes within each neighbourhood for a minimum period of approximately two hours up to a maximum of approximately four hours. This fare varied between most neighbourhoods and was based on the availability of transport services within its boundaries. The best way to understand how the system worked is to use the working terms that staff were instructed to learn. The heart was the Inner or "core" neighbourhood. Hinging onto this were six "Adjoining" neighbourhoods arranged clockwise and named Werribee, St.Albans, Broadmeadows, Greensborough, Box Hill and Moorabbin. Lastly there were three "Outer" neighbourhoods covering the further areas from the eastern to the southern suburbs, and named Ringwood, Dandenong and Frankston. In comparing this new fare structure with the previous 3 zone fare system - to a close extent the Inner neighbourhood was the equivalent to the former zone 1, the adjoining neighbourhoods covered what had been zone 2 and the outer three neighbourhoods replaced zone 3.

The various neighbourhood ticket combinations were as follows:

*For travel between the Inner neighbourhood and an adjoining neighbourhood, there was the Inner plus one ticket.

*For travel from an adjoining neighbourhood to the Inner neighbourhood, there was the neighbourhood plus Inner ticket.

*If travelling between any two adjoining or outer neighbourhoods, you would receive a neighbourhood plus one ticket.

*Lastly, for travel through more than any two neighbourhoods, there was the anywhere ticket, however, when the system started,   there was no 2-Hour Anywhere neighbourhood ticket, only a daily travelcard. This anomoly is explained in a later section.


A completely new means of identifying concession tickets was devised. This was by using a white diagonal band from the top left to the bottom right corners. As the background colours varied considerably four different highlighting methods were used. On the paper based neighbourhood tickets with full colour backgrounds, the white band was highlighted with a black edge. On neighbourhood plus one issues, the left hand white portion used an extension of the right hand neighbourhood colour as an edging which then changed to a black edge in the coloured portion. On the thicker travelcard tickets, the band was wider. Only on off peak concession travelcards, was it highlighted by extending the neighbourhood colour. On the anywhere concession travelcard, the colour band was extended as an edging. The concession inner travelcard required no edging and is probably the most recognizable concession issue in the entire range. Finally, while we are dealing with identification matters, and as improbable as it sounds, we have NEVER seen an official description of the colours for the ten neighbourhoods!


A critisism of the previous 3 zone fare system was the abrupt manner in which the fare zones bordered with each other. Customers could be disadvantaged cost wise if making a relatively short journey by train over a zonal boundary. Those who purchased travelcards for localised travel crossing a zonal boundary were also affected. This was taken into account when planning the neighbourhood fare system and it was arranged such that the neighbourhoods had an overlap between each other. The extent to which this applied was varied but could be discerned by examining the public transport map and was fully explained in the initial individual neighbourhood launch brochures. If travelling within the confines of the overlap, the customer got the benefit of the cheaper neighbourhood fare. Similarly, starting a journey within an overlap and going into an adjoining neighbourhood, the fare would be only for the two neighbourhoods - ie: plus inner or plus one. The overlap provision worked well and has continued to this day with the current fare structure.


Several oddities existed with the fare structure and were as follows. There was no direct transport link between the Werribee and St Albans neighbourhood, thus there was no Werribee plus one fare. These areas of Melbourne's Western suburbs have grown in separate radial directions. A similar situation existed between the St.Albans and Broadmeadows neighbourhoods, which were separated by the valley of the Maribyrnong River, thus the road system could not interlink between the two regions and the potential for even a through bus service was not good. This was accounted for when the fare system was planned so that the St.Albans and Broadmeadows neighbourhoods physically came together under a special ticket combination. Transfer was possible between two bus routes at the intersection of Keilor Rd and Matthews Avenue in suburban Niddrie and included routes 447 from Broadmeadows and 476 from Taylors Lakes (north of St.Albans). It is likely few patrons used this, and sales of the St.Albans plus Broadmeadows tickets would have been negligible. They were only sold from within the St.Albans neighbourhood, those travelling in the reverse direction received the Broadmeadows plus one ticket.


Accounting periods are the basis for the revenue control procedures of the public Transport system. There are 13 accounting periods within a financial year, each encompassing 28 days. Every four weeks, each weeks' ticket sales and revenue generation figures were consolidated ("closed off") as an end of month balance. These 28 day periods are what the supply of 2-Hour Neighbourhood tickets, Daily and Family Travelcards and Off-Peak tickets were based on. It was an ongoing requirement that these ticket types be resupplied to all stations, tram and bus depots in time for the complete changeover at the end of each accounting period which always ended on a Saturday night. Later, the previous periods tickets were returned to ticket control for auditing and eventual pulping. The neighbourhood fare system was the beginning of this wasteful, costly process which would last well beyond its demise and into the replacement fare structure. The only way this could have been avoided would have been to devise a format that included 31 days and 12 months on the face of the ticket, thus permitting a yearly changeover of stock. This would have required an extra punch being made at the time of issue but more importantly, as tickets were initially supplied with the price shown would have been self-defeating as soon as fares changed. The paper based neighbourhood tickets were supplied in pads of 50 while travelcards were thin cards in pads of 25. It appears, at least at railway stations, that ticket control supplied sufficient pads of tickets in numerical order for each accounting period. Travelcard weeklies and Rail Only weeklies were generally "topped up" as part of the changeover proceess with other ticket stock at the end of each accounting period but could otherwise be ordered as need be.


An improved type of hand operated ticket punch was supplied to bus drivers, tram conductors and to railway stations and is illustrated here from a staff training manual.

It is possible that on trams and buses, the existing smaller ticket nippers were preferred and not completely done away with (?). Z class trams already had an electronic punch validator built into the conductors desk. Railway stations received a quantity of electronic validators based on these but of a portable type to be placed at the booking window. They were a simple black metal device about half the size of a shoebox with a recessed front edge containing a pressure pad and retracting chopper. This could be reset from underneath if it jammed, usually a result of intergestion of confetti! Bus drivers and tram conductors could use either of two new types of vinyl covered ticket holders to store seven or, (folded) fourteen pads of tickets. The pads slid tightly into a pouch using the thick cardboard backing to which they were stapled. Railway stations appear to have received only the seven pouch version which they used generally for holding pads of neighbourhood tickets. Two new sizes of aluminium ticket tube were provided to railway stations which slid into the existing ticket cabinets and used the existing weights. Many thousands of these tubes must have been fabricated, it is believed, at Newport Railway Workshops(?) The larger type of tube was for travelcard and rail only weeklies and the smaller tube for daily travelcards. The design of both tubes allowed a pad of tickets to be slid over its face. Station staff thus had some flexibility in how they could store and arrange ticket stock for ease of issue.

A typical station ticket cabinet

Vinyl holder being used to store Periodical tickets clipped to the top of the cabinet.

Right side of cabinet, traditional Edmondson tubes being used for country, cloak room and free storage tickets.

Left side of cabinet, wide and narrow aluminium tubes for card based neighbourhood tickets.

Pads of paper neighbourhood tickets in vinyl holders on the counter separted by the date stamp and ink pad used for weekly tickets.

... and at the bottom, a well used cash draw.