A guide to Melbourne’s public transportation for new students

Newly arrived international students may find navigating Melbourne’s public transportation a daunting experience but it doesn’t have to be. To help new international students settle into a new life abroad, we provide this first-time guide for those new to Melbourne who simply wish to know the ins-and-outs of this city’s public transportation!


Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This is your ticket to Melbourne, the card that will get you around on Melbourne’s core public transportation networks: trams, trains and buses. These myki cards can be purchased at most train stations (to be safe, definitely get your ticket from one of the city loop stations: Flinders Street, Melbourne Central, Flagstaff or Parliament), at 7-Eleven, pharmacies or any other retailer that may stock them (be sure to look out for signage that suggests so!).

myki cards do need to be topped up in order for you to travel on any of Melbourne’s transportation networks so make sure you have money in them! Topping up your myki can be done at any train station – all myki machines accept cash and card payments. Alternatively, an auto-top up feature can also be activated which enables myki users to set a minimum and as soon as their card reaches that value, myki will automatically top-up at a set amount provided that money is on your designated bank card.

Concession myki passes are also available for international students, enabling you to save up to 50 per cent on your trips! These exclusive international student passes are called iUSEpass and can be claimed via your education institute.

To use a myki, all you have to do is ensure you have a valid pass, find the myki reader at your train station, on the tram or inside the bus and touch on. Hold your pass on the reader if necessary. Wait until you hear a beep (or a series of beeps if you’re holding a concession card) which should confirm your ride. When you’ve completed your trip, simply touch off when alighting.


Photo: vapourtrails via Flickr

Melbourne’s train network is fairly developed and is perhaps its most used form of public transportation. It might not always be reliable (locals love bemoaning the lateness of trains) but it does get you to where you need to be.

Most international students living in the city might not need to use the trains a lot if their schools are located in the city. But for those that do need to travel outward for school or for those simply wishing to see more of Melbourne on a weekend, start familiarising yourself with your line and download the Public Transportation Victoria app to get accurate information on when your train will arrive and where it will take you. The PTV app can also help you find your way around Melbourne by helping you plan your trip.

You can use your myki to travel on trains but just remember that if you’re visiting places outside of Melbourne, for example Geelong or Ballarat, you’ll have to use the V-Line trains, which are completely different to what you’d normally use to get around Melbourne.

If you have questions or concerns about your train trip or travelling on a train, staff can usually be found at the major city loop stations. These are Flinders Street Station, Parliament Station, Flagstaff Station and Melbourne Central Station.


Photo: vapourtrails via Flickr

Melbourne’s trams set the city apart from all other cities in Australia in that no one else has a network quite like this. Trams travel on the road alongside regular motor vehicles and offer more paths for commuters to explore and travel on. Sometimes, traveling by tram can be more convenient depending on where you need to go.

In the CBD, certain areas are designated ‘free tram zones’ meaning that blocks of the city where trams travel through do not require commuters to touch on or off when they travel. This makes traveling to hot spots such as Flinders Street Station or Melbourne Central that much more cost-efficient both for the everyday tram user and for someone visiting for the first time. Just make sure you familiarise yourself with these zones as you wouldn’t want to be caught out by a ticket inspector for not having touched on when you should have.

Like its train network, trams also have its own app – Tramtracker. This handy app lets you know exactly when your tram will arrive and how far off it is. This too is one of Melbourne’s most popular networks and helps transports thousands of commuters everyday.

Sky Bus

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

While not many international students will be using the regular buses that operate in the suburbs, we’re certain that all international students will want to know what more about the Sky Bus.

Melbourne lacks a train line that goes directly to the airport which be frustrating for new visitors who may find that traveling to and from the airport could set them back more than $100, depending on where they’re going. To mitigate this, users should definitely take up the Sky Bus, a timely service that transports you directly to the airport at the low cost of $18 (one way). The service is commonly accessed at Southern Cross Station and it normally takes around 30 minutes to get to the airport. Tickets can also be purchased at Southern Cross Station or online prior to your travel.

Free WiFi is also available on board the SkyBus which is handy though don’t expect the service to be out of this world. Ample luggage space is also on board and you won’t need to pay extra for it.

This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via meld@meldmagazine.com.au.

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