Melbourne has an excellent public transportation system. Metcards are the tickets you buy to travel around Melbourne on a tram, train, or bus. You can purchase them directly on the transportation vehicle, on the Internet, or other locations throughout the city. They are good on all 3 modes of transportation.
You can get many different combinations of tickets, all considering zones and length of time. If you are only traveling in the CBD and near suburbs, you will be safe with a Zone 1 ticket.
If you will be in Melbourne for a few days or a week, I would recommend getting daily tickets or a weekly ticket to save money, because chances are you will be taking public transportation every day.
The City Circle Tram
One way for tourists to visit the many attractions of Melbourne is to ride the City Circle tram. This free to use tram service stops at attractions such as the Federation Square, Queen Victoria Market, Shrine of Rememberance and Docklands just to name a few. You can easily recognize the tram by it's brown color. Inside the tram there is a recorded commentary of each stop including interesting trivia from the attractions. This service has a limited hours of operation and usually ends at early evening.
Skybus: the best transport to/from Tullamarine
The Skybus is the most economical way to get to the Melbourne CBD. Tickets are available in Kiosks outside both the international and domestic terminals. One way tickets are AU$16 with return tickets at AU$26. Buses are spacious and clean with enough space to accommodate many people as well as their luggage. The short trip from the airport takes passengers to the Southern Cross Station where people can take other transport to their final destination. Also included in the price of your ticket is a shuttle service which will take you to a number of hotels within the CBD.
Skybus Airport Shuttle
Sadly there are few options to and from Tullamarine International Airport, the main Melbourne airport. It's basically taxi or Skybus. A taxi will set you back between AUD$40 - 60 dependent on where you're going ($40 for the city, $60 for bayside places such as St Kilda).
Skybus is a great option - prices as of May 2008 remain the same in August 2010:-
Adult - one way: AUD$16
Adult return: AUD $26 (valid for 12 months)
Family 1 (1 adult & up to 4 kids) AUD$22/ $36 return
Family 2 (2 adults & up to 4 kids) AUD$36/$56 return
You can also purchase a 2 hour or Daily metcard with the one way adult ticket. Only a few cents are saved, but it does save you the hassle of purchasing such a ticket at the terminus of the Airport Shuttle.
Schedule: 7 days a week: every 15 minutes between 06:00 and 21:30 (outside these times, every 30 minutes or 1 hour dependent on flight arrival schedules)
It takes approximately 20-30 minutes from the airport to the city
Runs between all 3 Tullarmarine terminals and Spencer Street Bus Station (catch the Skybus on the main concourse at designated stop outside arrivals).
Tickets should be purchased at the kiosk when open - from the driver at other times.
Spencer St Bus Station is next to Southern Cross on Spencer St railway station. It's at the far end (ie away from the city) of the platforms - go up the escalators, turn right (away from Telstra Dome stadium - easily seen from this point - and head towards the stairs leading down to street level. The bus station access is on your left through the glass doors).
It also offers a free shuttle to hotels in the CBD - Melbourne, VIC 3000 postal addresses
(06:00 - 22:00 weekdays/ 07:30 - 18:30 Saturday & Sundays)
Trams, trains and buses
Melbourne is superbly served by public transport and has an extensive network of tram routes, buses as well as suburban train lines.
The city is, not surprisingly, the hub with Flinders Street Railway Station the centre for local transport. From here you can take the local trains in all directions and many of the tram services that serve the city pass by the station.
There's a whole selection of ticket pricing and zones. For most visitors, Zone 1 will be more than sufficient for travelling round the city as this covers all the areas of interest. Tickets are valid for trains, trams and buses.
Costs as of August 2010
New costs (relevant for Zone1):
2 hour single journey ticket: AUD$3.70 ($2.30 concession)
Daily AUD$6.80 ($3.70)
Weekly AUD$29.40 ($14.70)
Monthly AUD$109.60 ($54.80)
(You can also buy a 10 X 2 hour or 5 X daily ticket for AUD$29.40).
5 X Weekend Daily AUD$15.00 - (use it Saturday or Sunday, but one per person - ie 2 people cannot travel on one card)
Sunday saver $3.10 (Zones 1 & 2) flat rate.
Coins only on the trams, buses provide change (pay the driver). If travelling by train into the city, validate tickets, even if the departing station is 'deserted'. No validation, no exit at the stations in the city (automated system).
With the 2 hour ticket, validating the ticket 'rounds it up' to the nearest 2 hours. So if you use your ticket at 9.05am or 9.55am, it will be valid until 12 noon. If you use the ticket for the first time after 6pm, it is valid until 2am.
There's also Off Peak travel cards available etc, but these can only be purchased at Train Stations. Most cards can be purchased at newsagents and Milk Bars displaying MetLink signage.
Note that tram stops away from main squares etc tend to be at traffic light junctions. The stop sign is not always that obvious - particularly so out of the centre.
Things are about to change
Again I will say I find the public transport system around Melbourne - trams, buses, trains - on the whole is very good. Compared to some places where I have lived.
And I have learned it pretty well now. BUT things are in a state of flux because it used to be Connex and it has just become Metro. New people running the show. So vast amounts of money are being spent on rebranding the trains etc.
AND the myki card system of paying for your fare is just about to kick in. So everything I have learned about zones (there are two zones) and off peak fares and weekend savers etc etc is about to become redundant.
But the metlink link you find below is still pretty good for working out how to get from here to there.
And people in Melbourne are very friendly and will try to help you out if you ask. But just sometimes - well I still wince at the thought of how I tried to help this man buy his ticket at the machine and I went for an off peak and it is only valid on weekdays and it was a Saturday so he was stuck with a ticket that didn't work!
Warning or Danger Tip
I really have no complaints about the public transport system in Melbourne. Mostly it works well.
BUT - last night I was out in St Kilda trying to get a tram to Flinders St Station. And I didn't have a clue which tram to get because the the automated sign just says which tram (or bus) is coming next. It doesn't (unlike in Rome) tell you the list of stops.
So there you are in St Kilda and an East Brunswick tram is due in - but how the hell do you know if it goes past Flinders St Station if you are a stranger in town?
There is no one to ask on the tram. The driver is locked up in a little cabin and won't answer questions.
SO - go to a Metlink Office (there is one in the Town Hall) and get a bus map which shows you all the routes.
Then you won't be confused and bewildered and heading in the wrong direction.
I just want to add that I asked at the Tourist Info Centre in Federation Square for a bus map - and they did not have one! Just shocking, eh!
we tend to always hire a car when we go somewhere in oz.. it's the best way to see everything.
we went to melb earlier this year and drove on the great ocean road. man those apostles are something to be seen! absolutely unbelievable!!!! we got a car from alpha car hire (as we always do). the girls on the phone r really nice and helpful. and the cars r all new so i didnt worry it would break down - not like another company i had hired with.
honestly the best way to see australia is with a car coz u rn't on someone elses schedule and no kids vomiting in buses and no need to stop every 2 min coz someone needs to go to the bathroom.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
The Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle is another great free service. It stops at key tourist attractions and destinations in and around the city. There are 13 designated stops and you can hop on and of at any of them. The shuttle runs daily every 30 minutes from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm excluding Good Friday and Christmas Day.
- Budget Travel
City Circle Tram
This free tram makes a circle around Melbourne covering most of the major attractions on its route. The route is along Flinders Street, Spring Street, La Trobe Street and Harbour Esplanade. The stops of the tram are marked with City Circle sign. There is audio commentary explaining details of city landmarks and major attractions along the way. With the help of this tram, you can visit many of Melborne attractions very conveniently. Tram runs in both directions every 12 minutes between 10 am and 6 pm from Sunday to Wednesday and between 10 am to 9 pm from Thursday to Saturday.
- Budget Travel
Skybus from/to Melbourne Airport
Skybus is the most convenient and reasonably priced transportation you can get from Melbourne Airport to city and vice versa. Just on the exit you will see the booth where you can get your ticket. One-way fare is 16 AUD and return trip costs 26 AUD. There are also other family packages which allow more savings. It operates 24/7 including public holidays so no worries as Aussies say. The trip takes about 20 minutes to Southern Cross Station. At that point, you indicate your hotel name and you will be transferred into a smaller shuttle which will drop you in front of your hotel. On the way back, all you need to do is to ask hotel staff to make a reservation for your return and they will arrange everything.
- Budget Travel
Quick and Easy flight with Virgin Blue
We flew down to (and also home from) Melbourne with Virgin Blue from Brisbane. I had never flown with this airline before. Our flights booked several months earlier cost about $250 each which according to some friends who fly this route often this was quite reasonable (they usually estimate about 300 unless they get bargain fares).
Very pleasant crew and people at the check in counter. Nice easy flight no problems. They even suggested we would prefer an exit window seat for which my fiance was quite pleased about.
Budget Rent a car / Free flow tolling in Melbourne
We rented a car from Budget which cost us about $200 for the two days. The staff at the airport were extremely helpful and the website which I booked through easy to navigate. Our only concern was the E-tag for the free flow tolls that I had brought with us from Queensland didn't always work so that was a bit of a hassle to get sorted out once I returned. Mind you this was of course in no way Budget's fault. You can just buy day passes for the tolls up to three days after you drive through. Ask when you rent your car.
We were stranded in St Kilda late one night with no one other than a crazy old man for company. We were looking for a tram but none came along and ended up getting a taxi. I always feel uncomfortable in taxis and the ride back from St Kilda was no exception, but it was either that or walking.
I don't remember how much it cost now but the taxi driver wanted our business again and offered to take us to the airport when we left Melbourne. We politely took his business card but we didn't give him a call when the time came.
Taxis are fine but keep your wits about you as you would getting taxis elsewhere.
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Airport to City
We were recommended by our travel agent to take the Skybus from the airport to our hotel.
The buses are red and easy to spot and there's a booth right outside the airport doors where you can buy your ticket. I seem to remember being told they don't accept small change at the ticket booth (no silver coins i think) so bear that in mind.
The bus then takes you to a bus depot where you then transfer to a smaller bus which takes you to your hotel. The buses were fairly regular so it didn't take us too long to get there.
See website for more details.
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