Melbourne’s public transport system is recognised as one of the best and easiest to use public transport systems in Australia. The system uses a combination of rail, bus and tram networks to provide locals and visitors with a relatively cheap and efficient way of getting around the city and its surrounding areas.
As with all Australian capital cities, Melbourne uses a smart card system for public transport users. In Melbourne, the card is called a Myki card. This plastic card can be purchased at a number of convenient places including metropolitan train stations (via vending machine), some tram stops and bus interchanges, some regional train services, buses and through some retail outlets. The Myki website has a comprehensive list of outlets where the card can be purchased Once purchased the card can be loaded with funds either online, by telephone or through Myki vending machines located in various locations around Melbourne.
Access to the transport system is gained by touching the Myki card on as you enter a station or board a tram or bus and touching off as you leave. The fare is automatically calculated as you touch off and charged to your Myki card. It is important to remember to touch off as you will be charged a default fare if you do not.
To make your travel easier around Melbourne it is advisable to download the PTV (Public Transport Victoria) app. The PTV app features a journey planner that enables you to plot your journey and plan your day accordingly. The app will advise you of the available options and provide you with the best recommendations to complete your journey.
As the system interconnects bus, train and tram services, it’s likely that you will be able to utilise all three services at some time. Here are the key points of each system.
- The bus network connects many shopping centres, sporting venues, hospitals and schools. The night bus service runs along ten popular routes and runs from designated safe zones in Melbourne’s central CBD. The Night bus network has over 20 routes and leave every 30-60 minutes.
- Twenty four separate rail routes and a CBD city loop make up Melbourne’s suburban rail system. Trains can directly access most Melbourne suburbs or connect to bus services that connect to outlying suburbs. The train service can also link to regional Victoria (Myki will service Geelong and Ballarat but separate tickets must be bought for more regional areas) and interstate.
- Melbourne’s tram service is part of the fabric and character of Melbourne. The tram’s service inner Melbourne areas, running east-west and north – south directions. Tram stops are dotted through the city precinct and boarding is easy – simply hop on and touch on. There is a tram fare free zone in Melbourne’s CBD, this mainly is bordered by Flinders, Spring and La Trobe streets but does extend along Victoria, William and Elizabeth Streets where they border the Victoria market and the Docklands area.
Perhaps the one glaring weakness in Melbourne’s Public transport system is the unavailability of light rail to and from Tullamarine airport. The most convenient means of transport from the airport currently is the shuttle bus service known as Skybus that operates between the Virgin and Qantas terminals and Southern Cross station. The service runs every ten minutes (half hour between 1am and 4am) and tickets can be purchased at terminals one and three.
Melbourne is a fantastic city to visit or move to permanently. The accessibility provided by the public transport system to its many features and attractions and its affordability contribute to Melbourne being one of the best places in the world to live.