On the Buses

ERG’s Melbourne Project was Automated Fare Collection system for the Ministry of Transport. It was reported to be the world’s first multi modal system enabling patrons to utilise the same ticket for bus, rail and tram travel. ERG employed over 100 staff on the project. The architecture was a large distributed computing environment ranging from vehicle based fare devices through Unix depot computers to central mainframes.

When I commenced, construction had just begun at the individual device level and overall architectural issues were a major concern. An intensive period of backfilling industry standard processes, strategically planning the development of the three main sub systems in parallel, resolving critical system integration issues and enabling full end to end testing resulted in all three sub-systems being delivered on schedule. From August 95 through to February 96 some 24 Formal Deliverables were all delivered on schedule.

AES constructed all vehicle and platform device software. It was written in embedded C, running on OS/9 and utilized bisynchronous Communications. AES also developed the Unix based Depot Computers which acted as data concentrators in collection, and gateways for distribution of fare, route and table data throughout the network. Ticket Vending Machines were developed with EFTPOS, Contactless Smart Cards and Magnetic Striped Tickets.

The Software Group comprised 70 people with 8 Team Leaders reporting to Lawrie at peak development.

Overall the system we were constructing was structured in a hierarchy of “levels” which meshed in with each other to capture a fare from a commuter, pass it up to the clearing house and distribute funds to the service providers. The Card Issuer and the Central Body would at the same time, be transmitting their data downward and imposing Issuer rules on the governance of all fare collection, validation and transmittal processes.


Lawrie Martin

Lawrence Martin was born at Cabrini Hospital, Malvern, Victoria, Australia, on 27 October 1948. He was the great, great grandson of Captain MacGregor from Glasgow who set the then, record time for a sailing clipper from Bombay to London when his wife was terminally ill. Captain MacGregor had a son David, who was saddened by his fathers’ passing shortly after his mother. David was unhappy living with relatives and ran away to sea at the age of fifteen. He settled in Melbourne and worked as an engineer with the Melbourne City Council and read philosophy in his spare time. It was perhaps both loves of the sea and philosophy that Lawrence inherited from his maternal side. On his fathers’ side the blood lines ran to New Zealand and Ireland. His father Jack and grandfather Edward fought in the two great wars. His great grandfather fought in the Boer war.

Lawrence graduated in Information Processing from CIT which later became Monash University. He studied Architecture at RMIT. He completed a BA at Latrobe University with a double major in Philosophy. He had also studied Agricultural Science at Melbourne University and Medical Laboratory Technology at RMIT.

His first full time job was in the Biochemistry department at Monash University under the leadership of Professor Anthony Linnane (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/iub.330/abstract) and Dr Ian Forrester who both contributed immensely to his early years.

He also worked in the Monash University Computer Centre while studying part time and had the opportunity to gain experience with large number crunching computers such as the Control Data Corporation CDC3200 and the Burroughs B6500.

His second full time job was at Holeproof, a division of the Dunlop empire – described further in the following pages.

Travelling the world was always high on his list of priorities and he lived in London for a year in 1980. His girlfriend arranged accommodation in her supervisors converted hotel in Islington and it led to many an adventure including a hitch-hiking trip around Ireland and an epic trip on foot from London to Rabat in Morocco.

These days he is married to Emalyn and has two daughters Kim and Leah. They live in Manila and share a love of never-ending learning, dogs, food, wine and the relaxed natural beauty of Philippine rural life.