The iconic photo booth at Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station has been given a last-minute reprieve after the owner, 85, was given 10 days to move it on.
Alan Adler was last week told to move the booth after operating it for 46 years to make way for new Myki gates as part of the $100 million station upgrade.
A queue of people lined up for one last chance to use the machine on Tuesday evening, after a letter-writing campaign to Metro Trains.
But Public Transport Victoria CEO Jeroen Weimar phoned Mr Adler on Tuesday to apologise and assured him a new home would be found.
“He [Mr Weimar] considered it iconic. He wants it to be there indefinitely as far as he’s concerned, so that’s very encouraging,” Mr Adler told The New Daily.
Mr Adler was initially told by the Metro Trains business development manager to remove the booth “immediately”.
“I said, ‘I can’t do that, I’ll need at least 10 days to organise transport’. He said, ‘all right then’. I saw him last Friday and we walked around the station, I was suggesting some possible sites where the machine could be relocated, and he wasn’t very encouraging about anything.”
The booth owner was then given until Wednesday to move the machine, which weighs about 300 kilograms, before he was given an additional 28 days.
He is now confident he may have more time following the phone call from Mr Weimar.
PTV confirmed the call was made.
“There was always some impediment, some of the places I suggested was on Melbourne City Council property, which he thought they wouldn’t allow.”
The New Daily is awaiting a response from the City of Melbourne.
Mr Adler estimated at least one million people had used the machine in the 46 years he’s been operating it.
I’ve had some people come and take their photograph once a week, you know, just to make sure they’re still alive.”
“It’s still very popular with a lot of people … I’ve got no desire to take the machine away.”
It costs $5 for three pictures, but merely brings in “pocket money” for the 85-year-old.
“We make very little money out of it,” he said.
“The money is not the reason I do it.
“I get satisfaction out of seeing people get a lovely photo.”
He once had 16 booths across the city, when it was a profitable business. Just two remain, with Flinders Street being the most profitable. The other booth, on Chapel Street, also requires a new home after the property was sold.
“It’s been a lifestyle for me, we’ve been around the world meeting other photo booth operators. We’ve been to England three times. We’ve been to America about 30-odd times buying spare parts and parts for it.”
He visits the Flinders Street booth twice a week, and whenever it requires repairs. On Tuesday, Melburnians approached him to regale sentimental memories of using the machine.
One woman told him about using the booth with an old boyfriend: “She said the photographs lasted longer than the boyfriend.
“It’s a Melbourne icon to some extent, I’m told it is.”
"Adem asked me to marry him in this photo booth. We have a photo booth day once a year and we make sure we get a photo every year, on that day."Congratulations Tara & Adem!
Mr Adler said his photos did not fade like modern printed photos.
“They’ll probably keep for several hundred years if you keep the moths away from them.
“I’ve got photographs I took 46 years ago. They were good photos the day I took them, and they’re still exactly the same. They haven’t changed one bit.”
Metro Trains confirmed the booth would not be removed from the station.
“The station is undergoing works to improve the amenity and accessibility of one of our city’s great cultural icons.
“We understand the significance of this photo booth and we are working closely with the owner to find a new location at the station.”