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International students’ survival guide to Melbourne Part 2: Getting around

Carene Chong

Thu Mar 07 2013

Melbourne tram

MELBOURNE has a comprehensive public transport network that includes trams, trains and buses so getting around the city is no biggie at all, Carene Chong writes.

Take advantage of the free City Circle Trams to get around the city. Photo: deano7000 via Flickr

Take advantage of the free City Circle Trams to get around the city. Photo: deano7000 via Flickr

Free public transport

The City Circle tram is a vintage tram that travels to all the major corners of the city from Flinders St to Parliament Station, Melbourne Central and the Docklands. It was especially created for tourists wanting to do a bit of sightseeing, but industrious locals have also taken advantage of the service to get around.

There’s also a free tourist shuttle bus that serves the same purpose as the City Circle tram, but has more stops. All you have to do is find out which areas the bus services and hop on.

Watch our for traffic though. Melbourne’s streets get really busy between 7am and 9:30am and 3pm and 7pm on weekdays, so if you’re in a hurry, you’re better off catching the tram as it doesn’t have to stop for traffic.

Myki and Melbourne’s public transport network

If free public transport doesn’t get you where you need to go, Melbourne’s vast train, tram and bus system will.

At the start of 2013, Melbourne moved away from paper tickets and took up a public transport smart card called a Myki. You can find these cards for sale at convenience stores like 7-11 or at train stations. A full fare card costs $6 on its own. Once you’ve bought it, you will need to top it up with enough money to get you where you’re going.


The Myki card can be used on all public transport in Melbourne and its surrounding suburbs. Photo: Sam Churchill via Flickr

Melbourne’s metropolitan public transport network is divided into two zones – Zone 1 and Zone 2. Zone 1 covers the Melbourne CBD and surrounding suburbs, while zone 2 covers the suburbs that are further out. The further you travel the more you have to pay. You can find out about the zones and networks via the Maps page on Public Transport Victoria’s website.

Topping up of your Myki can be done at multiple locations. There are Myki self serve machines at tram and train stations. You can also top up at convenience stores and over the counter at train stations or you can do it online with your debit or credit card.

Myki has two fare options – Myki money and Myki pass. Myki money is best for people who use public transport infrequently and just want to pay for the odd trip. It works a bit like a credit system. So money is deducted from your account every time you use it.

Myki pass is for regular transport users. You can choose how many consecutive days you want to travel for – a week, a month, a year etc – and you pay a lump sum up front. Then you can use public transport as many times as you like during this period. Myki pass offers substantial savings equaling to $4 per day compared to $7 per day if you travel with Myki money.

Best part is, your Myki card can be used on all public transport in Melbourne and its surrounding suburbs. This includes all trams, trains and buses, so you don’t have to hold a different ticket for different modes of transportation.

The golden rule of Myki however is to always touch on and touch off at the Myki readers on the buses and trams and at train stations to avoid being charged more money than you need be.

Plan your journey 

After six years of living in Melbourne, there are still plenty of places I have not heard of nor have been to so it’s natural to panic if you’re required to go somewhere unheard of for any reason at all. I always turn to my handy iPhone for this, and make use of the Journey Planner on Public Transport Victoria’s website.


Use Public Transport Victoria’s online Journey planner to help you find the best way to get to your destination.

Simply type in your start location and destination, whether it be stations, addresses or landmarks and the planner will give you exact instructions on how to get there from where you are. You can even view maps from your phone showing the routes you should follow. Where would we be without technology?

Looking for more tips? Read part one of our survival guide about getting to Melbourne.