Melbourne|Public Transport Guide

Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia, with convenient transport to the CBD area and suburbs. You can easily get to those major tourist attractions in or around Melbourne by trams, trains, and buses, etc.

So, one thing essential and important to people in Melbourne, whether they are travelling, working holiday, or studying here, is to know the public transport system. In this article, I want to share with you some key points of the public transport system in Melbourne, including various transport forms, fares, timetables, route maps, boarding methods, and last but not least, how to use myki card, the contactless smart card for public transport services in Melbourne.

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(In addition to "renting a car and self driving around Melbourne", you can actually reach many Melbourne attractions by public transport.)

1. Introduction to Public Transport System

Public transport in Melbourne, including trams, trains, buses, and ferries, are all operated by "Public Transport Victoria (PTV)". The following is a basic introduction of each transport method:

Forms Introduction
Tram Tram networks span across the central Melbourne, making it the top option of transport in Melbourne City. There are two types of trams, the general trams and the City Circle trams. They have slight differences in operating hours, and the City Circle trams offer free audio guidance along the route. The tram services can reach almost all the attractions in the city, such as Queen Victoria Market, Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne Central Shopping Centre and so on.
Route Map Timetable
Train Melbourne's Metro trains are considered primarily for long-distance transport, with networks reaching to outer suburbs. All trains are equipped with automatic broadcasting system which notifies the station name. Metro can get you to some popular attractions like Melbourne Zoo and Puffing Billy.
Route Map Timetable
Bus Buses are not as widely adopted as the trams in Melbourne. It is only needed when you need to transfer Bus to some attractions in suburbs. Bus services are less considered by tourists in Melbourne these days, mainly because of its lack of the broadcasting system. Tourists can easily miss the stop they want to get off.
Route Map Timetable
Ferry There are only 3 routes for ferry services. The fare is priced independently, and myki card is not accepted. Except for some specific attractions like Philip Island, there are rare occasions to use ferry.
Route map, fare, timetable: Click here to check

After having a look at the transport methods in Melbourne, next, you will need to know the fare rules of the transport system. In Melbourne, fares are priced according to "zone" no matter what types of transport you choose. That says, it doesn't matter you are taking trams, trains, or buses, same fare applies to all transport forms in the same zone. PTV has defined Melbourne and its suburbs as metropolitan areas which includes the Free Tram Zone, Zone 1 and Zone 2, and the rest of Victoria as regional areas, ranging from Zone 3 to Zone 13. Let's have a more detailed look:

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This is the route map of tram services. The grey block in the centre of the city outlines the "Free Tram Zone". Any journey within this zone using tram is free, but you will still be charged if you take trains or buses. The white area marks Zone 1 and the rest of the outer area belongs to Zone 1/2. Tram services don't extend to regional areas.

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This is the route map of train services, also divided into metropolitan and regional areas. The white block specifies all the stations in Zone 1 and Zone 2 of the metropolitan areas, while in the grey block, you can find stations that belongs to the regional areas, from Zone 3 to Zone 13. Interestingly, all train lines start and end in the Flinders Street Station. After the Flinders Street Station, train lines enter the downtown Melbourne, encircling the CBD with 5 stations. It's also called the City Loop.

The bus services connect across from Zone 1 to Zone 13 as well. For more detailed information, refer to "The Metropolitan Local Area Maps" and "Regional Town Network Maps" for bus services.

After having a basic understanding about the transport system, there is one tool that I want to introduce as well, the "Journey Planner" provided by the PTV. Simply entering the departure point, destination, time, and several journey preference settings, for example your preferred transport methods, you will be directed to a Google Maps alike journey guide showing all the essential information such as the train line, departing time, arriving time, fare, zone, etc. Extremely convenient and definitely a must know tool for your journey in Melbourne.

2. myki Card

Ok, in the second half of the article, I'm going to talk about the card you must know when travelling in Melbourne.

Similar to Queensland's Go Card or Sydney's Opal Card, Melbourne also has its own electronic smart card for transport, that is, myki card. Currently, most stations in Melbourne have stopped selling paper tickets except for a few train stations in regional areas. You need to have a myki to access the services of trams, trains, and buses. Here are some important points to note:

Q1: What is the type and cost of myki card?

There are 4 types of myki cards, Full Fare, ConcessionChild, and Senior. Full Fare myki costs AUD$6, and the rest costs only AUD$3 each. The purchase conditions are as follows:

  • Full Fare: adults aged 19 and over, international visitors aged 19 and over
  • Concession: students studying in Victoria State, people who are certain cardholders(see PTV website for details), seniors from other states in Australia
  • Child: children from 5 to 18 years old (Children aged 4 and under can travel free and don't require a myki.)
  • Senior: seniors in Victoria State
Melbourne-Transport-myki-Tram-Train-Bus-Introduction-Guide-Boarding Method-Map-Fare

Q2: What are the fares, rules and discounts of myki card?

There are 3 fare types to choose from when purchasing a myki.

1. myki Money

myki Money is suitable for tourists who only stay in Melbourne for a short period of time or people who don't travel often. You are free to access any form of transport in a limited area within 2 hours after your first touching on myki. If you continue to use myki after the 2-hour period, you will be debited again, but you are free to travel unlimited times in that area for the rest of the day. That says, after the second charge, myki becomes a one-day ticket. No further charges will be made on that day.

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(On weekends and public holidays, myki Money 2 hour fare is the same as 2 hour fare on weekdays, but daily fare on weekends and public holiday costs only AUD$6.4 / AUD$3.2, which is cheaper than weekdays.)

2. myki Pass

myki Pass acts like a multi-day pass. There are 2 types of them, the weekly myki Pass and the 28-365 day myki Pass. Days are counted after the first touching on your myki. myki Pass is suitable for people who stay for a long term in Melbourne. The basic top-up unit is calculated by day or week.

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(You will only be charged for 325 days when purchasing a 325-365 day myki Pass, which means that you can travel free for 40 days.)

3. myki Explorer

It's a ready-to-use one-day pass myki priced at AUD$15 (AUD$6 for card plus AUD$9 top up value). You can have unlimited access to all forms of transport in Zone 1 and Zone 2 within one day with myki Explorer. The difference between myki Explorer and myki Money is the former comes with a discount package for some attractions (up to "16 attractions" for you to fully experience Melbourne). If you are planning to go to these places, myki Explorer might be a good choice to you.

Last but not least, if you plan to travel to regional areas, from Zone 3 to Zone 13, the fares are different. You can refer to the "Regional Fares" for more information. For most of the tourists, tram is a convenient and sufficient way to travel as it covers almost every place in central Melbourne where tourists spend most of their time in. In rare occasions that you will have to take buses or trains to regional area then you will need to check the regional fares.

Q3: What are the other benefits of myki card?

If you use myki Money for the first time after 6pm on any day, the 2 hour fare are valid until 3am the next day, which means you will only be charged once from 6pm to 3am next day. What's more, PTV offers Early Bird Fare for travellers taking metropolitan train journey before 7:15am. Make sure you have a positive balance in the myki Money and touch on and off before 7:15am for trains within metropolitan areas to receive the free Early Bird Fare.

Q4: How to use myki card?

You don't have to use myki in the Free Tram Zone when taking trams. For tram services outside the Free Tram Zone, you will have to touch on when you board the tram. (Touch off if you feel like to when getting off the tram but it's not required). For all train and bus services, always remember to touch on and off.

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(You will find that, in many stations in Melbourne, there is no "physical gates" for entering or leaving the stations to enforce people touch on and off. However, if you are caught taking the trains without touching on myki, a fine of AUD$240 will be issued, so be sure to follow the law and always touch on your card!)

Q5: Where to buy and top up myki cards?

  • Melbourne Airport
  • Selected newsstands and convenient stores (eg 7-Elevens)
  • myki machines at certain stations (purchase only available for Adult card)
  • Google Pay (currently only for Android users)
  • Station ticket offices
  • PTV Hubs
  • Call 1800 800 007 (delivered in about 7 days)
  • Buy online and top up on PTV website (can also register the card, check balance, record usage, report if myki is lost or stolen and get refund)
  • On the bus (only accept cash, maximum AUD$20) ※ Note: You can't buy or top up a myki card on tram services.
Melbourne-Transport-myki-Tram-Train-Bus-Introduction-Guide-Boarding Method-Map-Fare

(You can find myki machines in most of the stations for purchasing and topping up myki.)

Q6: How to get refund of myki cards?

You can apply for a refund through "Online Application" or call 1800 800 007. (You will need to send the physical card to Mailbox, Reply Paid 4318, Melbourne VIC 8060.) Another way is to visit the PTV Hubs in person. You can also transfer the remaining days of myki Pass to myki Money (days counted from the application day, not from the day of last use).

Q7: Do I need to buy a myki card?

If you are traveling for a short period of time and plan to visit places only in the Free Tram Zone, you don't need to buy a myki. Most of the popular attractions in Melbourne City can be reached by trams. Only if you want to travel to suburbs or some regional areas and not considering package tours or self-driving, or if you plan to long stay, study, and work in Melbourne that I will definitely recommend you get a myki card.

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(To catch the tram, you don't need to "hail and ride". Trams will stop when there are passengers waiting. You will have to push the "stop button" or pull the "blue cord" in certain trams for getting off the trams.)

3. Other Miscellaneous

1. Each state in Australia has its own transport system and electronic smart card, which cannot be used interchangeably. For example, Go Card in Brisbane and Opal Card in Sydney cannot be used in Melbourne, nor can myki Card in Melbourne be used in other cities.

2. No fee applies when touching on and off at the same station within 15 minutes. (That is, you don’t need to worry if you enter the wrong station, just leave and touch off within 15 minutes.)

3. You are allowed to use both myki Money and myki Pass with the same card. It is up to you to choose which fare option you want to top up. However, if there are positive balances in both myki Money and myki Pass, myki Pass will be the default option to be used.

4. If you buy a myki Pass and travel beyond the metropolitan areas (Zone 2), you will be charged with myki Money fare. If you go further to the area where the myki card cannot be used, you will need to purchase an additional paper ticket.

5. If you forget to touch off your myki when you leave the train station, you will be charged for a default fare, which is the 2 hour fare of the zone at the end of the line. For example, if I take a train of a line across to Zone 13 at Zone1 and get off at Zone 2 but without touching off, I will be debited the 2 hour fare of Zone 13.

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Ok, I've covered pretty much all the basic information of the public transport system in Melbourne. In fact, compared with other cities in Australia, public transport in Melbourne is highly developed and extremely convenient for people who travel, study, or work here. If you find this article useful to you, feel free to share with everyone.

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