Moving to Australia

Public Transport in Melbourne

Some cities are better suited to driving, others to cycling, and some are well equipped with an efficient public transport system. Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses are appreciated by both locals and visitors. In fact, this capital city has one of Australia’s best public transport systems.

It’s affordable, reliable and pretty much cash-free. Oh and of course, there are also taxis but stick with us and you’ll see you can get around easily without the hefty cab fares. Whether you’re on holidays in Melbourne or you’re living or studying long-term, it’s important to have a good knowledge of the city’s public transport options.

Buy a myki card to use public transport in Melbourne

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The myki is a plastic card which fits into your purse, wallet or phone case like a credit card. You load it up with funds and use it to ‘touch on’ and ‘touch off’ when travelling on Melbourne’s public transport network. The myki website has all the detailed information you need on how and where you can get yourself a myki card, how to use it and how to top it up with funds.

  • Where to buy a myki – Buy your card at a myki vending machine at metropolitan train stations, some bus interchanges and some tram stops as well as on buses and regional trains. The website has a list, searchable by location so you can find other retailers like 7-ELEVENs and IGA supermarkets. You can also buy one online and have it posted to you.
  • Card types – Children and Seniors Card holder cards are half price.
  • How to top up – Add funds via your Australian-issued credit card online or by calling 1800 800 007. In person, you can top it up at myki machines, on buses (with cash only), at 7-ELEVEN stores showing the myki sign and at around 800 shops around Melbourne. See the website for details. You can set up auto top up so that your credit card is charged automatically when your balance reaches a minimum amount.
  • How to use – Whenever you get on and off a bus, train or tram, touch your myki to the card reader. You’ll find these on trams and buses and at entry/exit points at train stations. If you forget to touch off, you will have to pay a default fare for the maximum possible travel distance from your touch on location.

Download the PTV app

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The PTV (Public Transport Victoria) app features a journey planner so you can enter the date and time you want to travel and where you need to go and from where and it will show you a range of options. Depending on the route, you may be able to take a bus, train or tram or a combination and the easy to use app will spell it out for you.

It also provides notifications on cancellations, disruptions and schedule changes, lists myki retail outlets, can integrate with your address book so you can plan a journey to meet one of your contacts and shows transport network maps for metropolitan trams and trains.

Using buses to get around Melbourne

Melbourne’s excellent bus network runs frequently between shopping centres, tourist attractions, hospitals, schools and sporting venues.

Hot tip! The Night Bus operates on Friday and Saturday nights along ten specific routes and departs every 30 minutes from six safe locations in the CBD. For night services across all modes of transportation, visit PTV’s Night Network page.

Hop on a train

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On a Melbourne train, you can travel from the city, out to the suburbs or to Victoria’s regional centres and even interstate. The city loop features five stations in the CBD, all within the underground system.

The entire network of 24 routes out to the suburbs is well-run and very efficient; you can see a map of it here. Definitely download the PTV app to help you find your way around, or simply ask a friendly person or staff member for directions.

The iconic tram system

Allianz Global Assistance Overseas Health - Melbourne Trams

Melbourne is known for its iconic fleet of 501 trams which toddle along up and down the city streets all day and into the night. They run east to west and north to south and are part of the city’s character, often featured in tourism ads. To catch a tram, simply go to a tram stop and when the tram arrives, hop on!

Don’t forget to touch on with your myki on the card reader next to the doors, but on trams, you don’t need to touch off. Some tram travel is free. The Free Tram Zone in the CBD transports tourists and commuters between Spring Street, Flinders Street and La Trobe Street as well as Victoria, William and Elizabeth Streets and the Docklands area.

Hot tip! The maroon and green City Circle tram with yellow and gold trimmings is free and is an appealing and convenient way to make your way around the CBD. Anyone can use it but it’s set up for tourists with its audio commentary that points out interesting landmarks. Look out for it at specially marked stops.

Catching a cab in Melbourne

The taxi service in Melbourne is reputable and safe. There are plenty of designated taxi ranks in the CBD and the City even manages Safe City taxi ranks which have added security including security cameras, clear signage and an emergency intercom button. You’ll find these at Queen Street taxi rank, between Little Collins Street and Bourke Street and Flinders Street Station, at Swanston Street.

Meters are clearly visible in taxis so you can keep an eye on your fare. You will be expected to pay in advance for late night trips and there may be a surcharge. For trips to and from the airport with lots of luggage, or for groups of more than four passengers, Maxi Melbourne provides maxi cabs that seat larger groups and can fit more cargo. Otherwise, for trips within the city, call 13cabs on 13 2227 or download the app, Silvertop on 131 008 or download the app, or CABiT on 13 22 22.

The 5 best ways to travel to and from the airport

  • Skybus (best for convenience) – A 24/7 shuttle that travels between the Virgin Australia and Qantas/Jetstar terminals and the Coach Terminal at Southern Cross Station. You can purchase single or return tickets at Terminal 1 or 3. The shuttle departs every 10 minutes and between 1am and 4am, they run every half hour.
  • Taxi (best for speed) – Ranks are located outside Terminal 1 and between Terminals 2 and 3. Here’s a handy fare estimator.
  • Rental car (best for independent travel) – If you need to hire a car when in Melbourne, pick it up at the airport. There are multiple agencies to choose from inside the terminals.
  • Bus and train (best for affordability) – Purchase a myki card at the Skybus terminal, walk across the road, turn left and make your way to the end of the platform at Terminal 1. Catch the 901 bus to Broadmeadows Station then take a train to the City.
  • Limousine (best for comfort) – Nothing beats a chauffeur driven limo! Check around for prices into the City.

Help in other languages

PTV provides assistance with information on the public transport network in multiple languages including Arabic, German, Japanese, Punjabi, Sudanese, Vietnamese and more. At that link, you will also find downloadable PDFs in various languages on a range of topics.


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