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Blog – Using Melbourne Public Transport As a Student

By Mallory Evans

Please note: At the time of writing, any unnecessary public transport travel is being discouraged as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Please don’t travel at this time unless absolutely required and implement social distancing measures or travel off peak where possible.

One of the first things you’ll hear when moving to Melbourne is how highly everyone rates the city’s public transport. Despite its size, Melbourne is incredibly accessible via tram, bus and train – which is great news if you’re seeking to explore your new hometown. But all these options can feel a little bit overwhelming if you’ve never experienced them before. To help you embark on your Melbourne adventures with ease, we’ve compiled some top tips that will have you navigating the city as a student like a local in no time.

The Myki card is your key to public transport around the city.

The Humble Myki Card: Your Key to the City

The first thing you’ll need before going anywhere is a Myki card. This is a reusable pass-card that allows you to purchase your fare on trams, buses and trains. Myki cards can be bought at various stores throughout the city, including all 7-Eleven supermarkets, as well as at metropolitan transport hubs and major stations. Mobile Myki cards can be purchased via the Google Play™ app on your Android phone.

Adult Myki cards cost $6 to purchase, but you may be eligible for a $3 concession card and half-price travel fares. All full time undergraduate tertiary students are eligible for concession Myki cards and approval for this entitlement can be accessed through your tertiary institution. When you purchase your Myki card you’ll also have to load some money onto your account, which will then be used to pay for your fare whenever you swipe your card on a tram, bus or train. Once you’ve got money on your Myki card you’re ready to get moving!

Tap On/Tap Off

Whenever you decide to catch public transport in Melbourne , you’ll need to swipe or ‘tap’ your Myki card at a card-reader. When catching the train, you’ll tap your card on at the station gate before you enter and you’ll need to tap your card off again as you exit the station at your destination. The same goes for catching the bus: you need to ‘tap on’ when you enter the bus and then ‘tap off’ when you exit. Your fare will automatically be deducted from your Myki account based on how far you travel in certain public transport zones.

Using the tram is slightly different. If you’re travelling in the free tram zone in the CBD (which runs east-to-west between Harbour Esplanade and Spring Street and north-to-south between La Trobe Street and Flinders Street) you can ride free of charge and do not need to tap your Myki card at all. If you’re travelling beyond the free-tram zone to almost anywhere else in the city you only need to ‘tap on’. If you’re travelling beyond the city to destinations like Bundoora RMIT, Box Hill or Vermont South, you’ll need to ‘tap on’ and ‘tap off’ or you might be charged a higher fare.

To recap:

Trains, buses and far outer-suburbs trams = ‘Tap on’ and ‘Tap off’
Trams in the city beyond the free-tram zone = ‘Tap on’ only
Trams in the free-tram zone = Free of charge (no need to tap at all!)

Important Transport Lines

Melbourne city is built on a grid system and most major roads contain a tram line, so there are plenty of direct east-west and north-south routes to take you all around the city. One of the key routes for many university students is the number 19 tram, which runs from Flinders Station in the city centre, past the main University of Melbourne campus as well as University College and Monash Pharmacology School, and continues north through the bustling heart of Brunswick. The Australian Catholic University campus in Fitzroy can be accessed via connections from the number 19 tram.

Direct routes between the University of Melbourne, RMIT’s city campus, Melbourne city centre and the Southbank area are also accessible via the number 1 and 6 tram lines along Swanston Street, which is a 15 minute walk from University College . Tram routes and times are all available through Google Maps, Public Transport Victoria’s online journey planner and the Yarra Trams tramTRACKER® app. Citymapper is also a great app for showing you multiple ways to get to a particular destination.

All Hail Melbourne Trams!

The last thing you need to remember when catching a tram or bus in Melbourne is that some stops require you to indicate that you’d like to board by holding your hand out as the vehicle approaches. It’s also important to remember that while buses can drive up beside stops, trams often cannot, so you might have to cross onto the road to catch your ride – just don’t forget to look out for oncoming traffic as you do so!

With your Myki in hand, your route planned and your tram hailed, you’re on your way to discovering every exciting corner of Melbourne as a student. Happy travelling!