Melbourne has a very large metropolitan area, but most sights of interest are within the city centre and the rest can for most part be reached within about 20 min from the centre on the train or tram. Melbourne's city centre is laid out in an orderly grid system, similar to the grid system of Manhattan, meaning that navigating the city centre is easy. Public Transport Victoria's Journey Planner can suggest the best way to get from point A to point B, with schedules, maps and connections. Melbourne has a reputation for a well-planned road system, although traffic can be disastrous in the peak period.
Melbourne has a fairly reliable public transportion system which consists of trams, trains and buses: trams and trains branch out from the city centre to the suburbs, while buses usually cover where there are no tram or train tracks. There are connections to most of the major attractions of the city, and it is fairly easy to get around Melbourne without a car.
Although there are different operators for each form of transport and area, Public Transport Victoria coordinates public transport and provides timetables, maps and a journey planner. An app is available for iOS, otherwise there is a mobile-optimised website .
The network is constantly being optimised for elderly and disabled passengers. All new trams and buses are low-floor, and raised platforms have been constructed at major stops for trams. Most inner city stations have escalators and lifts, and others in the suburbs will at least have a ramp. On all forms of transport, there are spots for wheelchairs, and seats that must be vacated on request of an elderly, pregnant or disabled person.
Myki is a reloadable smartcard that can be used for travel on trains, trams and buses. Myki cards can be purchased from staffed railway stations, machines at all train stations and large tram stops and various retail stores such as newsagencies and 7-Eleven. Cards can also be purchased online. Myki cards can be topped up at the same places, including some other retail outlets. They cannot be purchased in trams, buses or trains!
Regular adult cards cost $6, and concession/child cards cost $3. The card comes with no preloaded credit and the fee is non-refundable. A Myki Visitor Pack ($14/7 adult child), which comes preloaded with $8/4 of credit and a stack of attraction discount coupons, can be purchased at major stations, tourist information centres and Skybus terminals at Tullamarine airport.
To use Myki, you simply need to touch the card onto one of the lime green readers before travel at the train station, or on board a bus/tram. (The readers are notoriously slow, so be sure to wait until the beep.) Then you need to touch off, as you depart. There is no requirement to touch off on trams. The fare (including the travel time and zone) will be automatically calculated and deducted, so there is no need to plan costs in advance.
The city is divided into two zones; Zone 1 covers the central city and inner suburbs which is as far as many tourists would venture, while Zone 2 covers the middle and outer suburbs. All tram routes are now counted as being in Zone 1. You can purchase tickets for travel in Zone 1, Zone 2 or both. A Zone 1/2 overlap exists as a buffer zone, where tickets from any Zone may be used.
The Myki discover centre is located at Southern Cross Station, and provides information and sales related to myki.
Regulations and laws surrounding public transport are strict. Ticket inspectors are common, especially in the inner city, and fines start at $207 on the spot. Having your feet against the seat opposite you may result in a fine of $180, with similar fines applicable for swearing or drinking alcohol whilst on public transport. These fines are enforced strictly and discretion is rarely shown.
Services generally operate between 5AM and midnight Monday–Saturday and after 8AM Sunday. After midnight on Saturday and Sunday mornings only, there are NightRider buses which run defined routes to the suburbs (generally following closest road to the railway line).
The older Metcard system has been retired. Unused Metcards can be converted into Myki credit at any staffed station.
The train network is operated by Metro Trains Melbourne with blue signage used for stations. A partly-underground "City Loop" forms the basis of the network, with all the other lines branching off to the suburbs like spokes of a wheel. The lines are named after the station at the end of the line.
Trains are more frequent during peak times in the morning and evening, but also extremely overcrowded. If possible, avoid travel during this time. Unfortunately, signalling is still not up to scratch, so delays of 10–15 minutes happen near-daily and cancellations are all too common. If time is critical, catch an earlier train than what you would need. The Public Transport Victoria website lists cancellations. Be aware that some trains may run express to and from the city.
Most trains are modern and clean, if occasionally "decorated" with graffiti. Almost all are airconditioned, except a few old trains which had to be reintroduced after extreme overcrowding on the network. The 'premium' stations have staff, bathrooms and other facilities.
Trams are one of the icons of Melbourne. The city has the largest network in the world. The network is operated by Yarra Trams, and stops are represented by green signage. Most tramlines also branch out from the city centre like spokes. In the city, they can often become crowded, especially on weekdays. Most trams are now long, wide and low-floor. But some of the older models have steep steps at the entrances. When entering and exiting a tram, always look for cars, as distracted drivers may illegally speed past.
The city circle tram in Melbourne's CBD runs in a ring around the city and is free. There is no requirement to purchase a MYKI ticket.
Buses serve as connections to places without rail transport. They often connect to major shopping centres and train stations. There are dozens of operators across the city, but the processes and organisation is standardised with orange signs used for bus stops. Most buses are low-floor, air-conditioned and very spacey. Some working class areas have old buses from the 1970s, which lack air-conditioning and have a number of steps at the entrance.
The free City Circle (Number 35) trams run around the CBD perimeter, covering Flinders St, Spring St, Nicholson St, Victoria St, La Trobe St and Harbour Esplanade along with the new Docklands Precinct. It is a vintage style tram, easily recognisable by its maroon colour. The tram stops along the route are sign posted with City Circle. They run in both directions every 12 minutes every day except Good Friday and Christmas Day from 10–6PM, and until 9PM Thursday–Saturday during daylight savings. Several of the trams on this service are equipped with recorded commentary about attractions passed. Tourist information is often available on board either from brochures or from a city guide person. These trams are geared to visitors and provide access to sites of interest to the tourist. They are a fun introduction to central Melbourne and a free way to have a tram experience, but they tend to be painfully slow and packed full of local commuters. View the number 35 tram route .
The free Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle bus service stops at key tourist destinations in and around the city centre. The buses run at 15 minute intervals between 9:30AM and 4:30PM daily. A complete circuit takes 45 minutes, and there is on-board commentary."
The inner suburbs of Melbourne have a good network of bike paths by the standards of English-speaking countries, plus a generally flat terrain, making pedal-power a great way to take in the city. Most paths are "shared footways" under the law, although the majority of users in most places are cyclists. This means cyclists should expect to share the path with pedestrians, dog-walkers, rollerbladers, joggers, prams and tricycles. Some trails contain on-road sections (in marked bike lanes). It is legal to cycle on footpaths only when supervising cycling children or when the path is marked or signposted as allowing bikes. Helmets are required by law, and care should be taken when cycling near slippery tram tracks, where many have been injured in the past. Reflective clothing and lights are essential for safe night rides.
Detailed maps of the bike path network can be found online .
Bicycles may be taken on Metro trains at no extra charge. Due to crowding, it is often impractical to take a bicycle on a peak hour train, and it won't win you any friends with your fellow passengers trying to squeeze into the same carriage. Bicycles are not permitted on buses, even when replacing a train service. Folding bicycles may be taken on trams when folded. Bicycles may be carried in taxis at the drivers discretion.
A folding bike with 20" wheels or smaller is very convenient when travelling in the city. In addition when in folded condition it can be carried on bus, train and CountryLink without any additional charges. Just tell the driver that it will be folded and hand carried as baggage. As for inter-city train, avoid rush hour (7AM-9AM and 5PM-6PM). If the wheelchair area is not occupied then the bike can be parked in this area safely without folding.
Driving in Melbourne's CBD is generally inadvisable. Congestion tends to be bad, streetside parking difficult to find, and parking in multi-storey carparks tends to be rather expensive. In addition, you will have to learn how to execute a hook turn (described in a later paragraph) due to the large number of trams in the city. That being said, driving is generally the best way of getting around Melbourne's suburbs, as the public transportation network tends to be less reliable and more thinly spread out than in the CBD, particularly in the outer suburbs. If you plan on living in one of Melbourne's suburbs and wish to rent a car, a common alternative to driving into the CBD that many locals do is to drive to and park at the nearest railway station, and take the train down to the city from there.
The major car rental chains are well-represented and include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz & Thrifty. Independent car rental companies are also plentiful and can offer good value for money. If you are looking to cover a long distance by car, ensure your rental policy includes unlimited mileage – most economy to standard sized car rental include this already.
Melbourne's rules of the road have one notable quirk: there are a handful of intersections in the city centre where you must do a hook turn to turn right due to tram tracks running down the centre of the road. Follow the signs, pull to the left of the intersection if you are turning right, as far forward as possible, wait, and when the light for the street you are turning into turns green (the traffic on the street you are on stops) make the turn.
Check out CityLink's site for details of Melbourne's T-shaped tollway which links the Westgate, Tullamarine and Monash (formerly South-Eastern) freeways. It is a fully electronic road with no manual tollgates. You can buy a day pass in advance, or within 3 days of having driven down it, giving your registration and car details. You can do this by phone, Internet, or at some Shell petrol stations. The registered owner of the car will get a fine in the mail if you do not buy a pass within 3 days. The tolled sections are indicated with blue and yellow signs, rather than the standard green and white. CityLink can cut a worthwhile amount of time from your journey, especially if you are driving from, say, the south-eastern suburbs to Melbourne Airport. Motorcycles are free, cars are around $11/day. Larger vehicles are more.
The EastLink tollway has recently been completed. Formerly called the Scoresby, then the Mitcham-Frankston freeway, it links the Eastern, Monash, Frankston and Mornington Peninsula freeways. Like the CityLink, it is a fully electronic road with no toll gates. If you have a tag or account, tolls range from 28c for short trips on some segments, to a toll cap of $5.15. Weekends are 20% off, and motorcycles are half price. If you don't have a tag or account, passes are available for the cost of the trip cap (e.g. travelling one way will cost you $5.15 in a car). Passes are available online at and can be purchased before or up to 3 days after the trip.
Tags from other Australian cities work on CityLink and the EastLink tollway, but passes do not.
One option for travel on both CityLink and EastLink is the Melbourne Pass. It costs $5.50 to start up an account, and tolls are debited from your credit card automatically once the accumulated tolls and fees reach $10, or when the pass expires (after 30 days, but can be extended once for another 30 days). No tag is required. The pass can be purchased online at
In the centre, parking at meters and ticket machines can be as much as $3.50 per hour.
Motorcycles and scooters are well catered for as footpath parking is both free and legal (providing the footpath is not obstructed). Scooters are becoming very common, however for all size scooters a motorcycle license must be held.
Melbourne is an excellent city for walking and you should have no problems navigating the CBD grid. A brisk walk may even see you keeping up with the trams, as they crawl through the city centre.
Yellow Melbourne taxis are ubiquitous in the centre but less often spotted in the suburbs. The largest companies are 13CABS (☎ 13-CABS/132227) and Silver Top (☎ 131008), both of which — despite the names — are also yellow in colour. Fares are standardised so that the meter starts ticking at $3.20 and clocks up $1.617/km, meaning that short hops within the centre can go for under $10, but longer hauls get pretty expensive pretty fast. Midnight-5AM is 20% more, booking by phone or taking a taxi from the airport costs $2 extra and sitting in traffic is $0.56/min. Between 10PM and 5AM, taxi fares are prepaid: you pay an estimated sum to the driver in advance and the fare is corrected on arrival.
Some taxi companies do not provide a lost property service. Lost items by law must be forwarded to the police if they are not claimed. Melbourne's taxi network is fairly safe, although taxi ranks can sometimes be rowdy places, due to the lack of taxis compared to demand (particularly outside Flinders Street Station, but there is a police box next to the rank which generally operates at night).
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