An Introduction to Student Passes, Adult Yearlies
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and Employee Touchcards
In a surprising move, Metcard-type tickets have been used for these longer term issues, when it may have been expected that smart-card technology could finally have appeared. Stepping back to September 1998, an internal circular advised that "Touchcard Field Trials" would take place "over the next few weeks". "Touchcard" appears to be an internal PTC name, whilst "Metcard Xpress" is the marketing name for this technology, whilst the staff call them "Smartcards". It is interesting to note that Customer Service Employees had already been issued with these cards at least by February 1998. Personal observations at city stations indicates that this is to quickly activate the automatic fare gates when customers experience difficulties using them, still continuing to this date. It was always intended that this technology would be adopted so the facilities for using this type of ticket were fully built in to validators, automatic fare gates, booking office machines and MVM 2 (018) machines at the time of installation. An article in the Herald-Sun of February 14th 1998 gave the impression that Smartcard technology was on the verge of staged introduction, starting with Judges, MP's and PTC staff passes. During this time, PTC staff who attended Metcard training were clearly told that it was hoped Smartcard technology would become the basis of the system and were even shown the actual encoding process of a Metcard Xpress ticket using a booking office machine. It was also mentioned that the high cost of producing these plastic tickets could be partially offset by selling the fronts for advertising. To date, the results of the September 1998 trial are not known by us, but clearly the fact that standard Metcards have been used, suggests a lack of confidence in the integrity of this particular Smartcard technology to date. An article in the Herald-Sun of March 25th 2000 once again lifts the lid on this issue, stating Metcard Xpress tickets have again been on a system-wide trial, this time for two months. Ironically, the issuing of the new "triplex" type Metcard student passes and yearly commuter tickets, raised serious concerns regarding their durability, and has resulted in a petition from students at Melbourne High School. Their point of concern is the wear and tear and the inevitable degredation of the ticket because of the continual physical handling due to the requirement to validate the ticket every time they travel. Previously, student passes were checked visually, allowing them to be laminated or protected within a wallet, thereby requiring minimal handling.