Surviving Melbourne 101: Public Transport


So you've arrived in Melbourne, and you're ready to explore. You've worked out where you want to go and how to get there, and where the nearest train, bus or tram stop is. It all seems pretty doable, until you realise you don't have a valid ticket... and literally a busload of people are giving you the evil eye for holding up the driver.

There's nothing worse than feeling like a dumb tourist or a naive newbie - so we've compiled our best public transport tips to help you travel around Melbourne like a pro and, most importantly, help you look like you know what you're doing.

Tip #1: Get Your Ticket to Ride

Not unlike most major cities, Melbourne's public transport drivers will rarely accept cash onboard these days. Do yourself a favour and don't even bother asking - just get yourself to your nearest 7-Eleven and nab yourself a Myki card for $6. This is your key (my-key, get it?) to the city, and will get you on the bus, train or tram, anywhere around the city.

Tip #2: Google Maps is Your Friend

Public Transport Victoria seems to be quite proud of their PTV and tramTRACKER apps, which are great for tracking your train, tram or bus in real time. But unless you're tracking a particular service, save space on your phone and rely on Google Maps - it's generally pretty good at getting you from A to B.

Tip #3: Become a Myki Mastermind (It's Not Hard)

Once you've become the proud owner of a Myki card, the rules are pretty simple. Touch on when you board a bus, tram or train, touch off only when you exit a bus or train. There's no need to touch off on a tram since you'll be charged at the same rate wherever you get off - and it's done this way to avoid holding up traffic with people getting off, scrambling for their card and touching off in single file. And on that note - when you are about to board a bus or tram, or go through the entrance to a train station, make sure you have your Myki out of your bag, in your hand and ready to touch on. Don't be the jerk who doesn't think about it until the very last second and holds up the line behind them.

Tip #4: Don't Be a Seat Hog

Getting a seat on Melbourne public transport is not to be taken for granted, and it's always a good day when it happens. But it's a privilege, not a right - and if you don't use it properly, you're just going to tick people off. Three simple rules apply:

  • If an elderly, disabled or pregnant person boards, stand up and give them your seat. Don't pretend you didn't notice them, you twit.

  • If you're in the aisle seat and the person next to you vacates the window seat, move over. Don't use the feeble excuse of "oh I'm getting off soon" as to why you're making someone scramble over your knees - everyone is getting off soon

  • If you're lucky enough to score a double seat to yourself, don't abuse it by taking up the other seat with your bag. We shouldn't have to explain that one - just don't do it.

Tip #5: Beware the Free Tram Zone

Melbourne generously boasts a 'free tram zone' in the heart of the CBD, allowing people to hop on and off as they please without a ticket. However, it's one to watch out for if you're travelling beyond the free tram zone, since if you're caught without a valid ticket (as in, if you have a Myki card but didn't touch on in time), huge fines apply. Enjoy it, use it... but just make sure you're listening out for announcements for when to touch on again.

Tip #6: Watch Your Back Bag

From time to time, it may be necessary to travel with a backpack or suitcase. It happens to the best of us - but that doesn't mean eyes won't roll at the sight of you entering an already jam-packed vehicle. If you're travelling with a backpack, save smacking someone in the face with it by taking it off your back and holding it. If you're travelling with a suitcase, well, you'd better hope you haven't chosen peak hour to commute.

Tip #7: Remember You're a Civilised Member of Society, Not an Animal

Funnily enough, it's a fact many people seem to forget at the sight of opening train doors. There's not one single person in Melbourne who holds a status high enough to make it okay to push past a queue onto a busy bus, or to squeeze onto a crowded train carriage when people are still getting off. Be a courteous, responsible commuter and expect the same in return. 

Congratulations - you're now ready to use public transport in Melbourne! The city is your oyster. So now you know how to get around, why not check out our range of deals in Melbourne?