Melbourne is home to one of the best public transport networks in Australia, where it boasts the world’s largest tram system, has almost 300 bus routes and sees 16 rail lines serving Greater Melbourne. Its public transport system even has a night network service which, as its name implies, runs all night on weekends to help commuters get from point A to point B in the wee hours.
Although most locals rely on public transport to get to places, that is not the only method of travel in Melbourne. Other commuting alternatives include driving, cycling, walking, taxi and rideshare services like Uber. Want to have an overview of all the different modes of transport in Melbourne? Have a look at this guide to find your best way of getting around the city.
*Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the night network service for trains, trams, buses and V/Line night coaches in metropolitan Melbourne will not run from Friday, 20 August. If you are travelling interstate, please check the rules in place for your destination state or territory before you travel. For the latest updates, please visit Public Transport Victoria.
Managed by Metro Trains Melbourne, the city’s metropolitan train network comprises 16 railway lines and over 200 stations, so it can take you wherever you’re heading in Melbourne – whether it is the central business district or between the outer suburbs. Trains run from 5 a.m. to midnight, with 24-hour services on Fridays and weekends.
Train transport in Melbourne also includes regional travel. V/Line, a government-owned entity, operates trains across the state and has seven passenger railway lines connecting Melbourne to other towns and cities in Victoria. The hub for this regional passenger train network is Southern Cross Station in Melbourne’s city centre.
To use the trains in Melbourne and parts of regional Victoria, you’ll need a myki – a reloadable contactless smart card – for electronic payment of fares. The myki card is also your ticket to travel on trams and buses in Melbourne. And like other public transport ticketing systems around the world, you tap on when you start travelling and tap off when you’re alighting. It costs $6, and you can add money to the card and top it up when needed.
Trams are more than just a quintessential part of Melbourne’s landscape. They form a major part of public transport in Melbourne, with it being the second most used public transport in the city.
Designed for short to medium-length trips, trams in Melbourne operate at the same time as trains. They run mostly in the inner suburbs and share the same road space with general traffic on most of the city’s thoroughfares – so you can find multiple tram routes crisscrossing the streets of Melbourne. You can board them at designated stops which also come with maps, route numbers and a timetable.
Similar to train services in Melbourne, you touch on your myki when you board the tram and touch off when you’ve reached your destination – this applies if you’re travelling in Zone 2 of the city. If you’re commuting in the boundary overlap of Zone 1+2, remember to touch on, but you don’t need to touch off. A myki card is only not required if you’re travelling within the city’s Free Tram Zone or City Circle Tram, which goes around central Melbourne and stops at various major attractions and shops.
Compared to other cities around Australia, bus patronage is lower in Melbourne because the city’s tram network already services many trips that buses would usually manage. Nevertheless, the bus network in Melbourne is comprehensive, with approximately 300 routes in operation, including a dedicated night bus system that runs on Fridays and Saturdays.
Unlike other types of public transport in Melbourne, buses can specifically bring you to your desired destination, whether it is schools, shopping centres or hospitals. They also provide transport to the outer suburbs of Melbourne that are not reachable by trains and trams.
Wish to travel further afield from Melbourne? V/Line provides coach services that go into regional Victoria, which you’ll need to purchase a V/Line paper ticket for. The SkyBus between Melbourne Airport and Southern Cross Station is a non-myki bus service, too, so you’ll have to get a separate bus ticket. Apart from that, all Melbourne buses use the myki ticketing system.
As one of the world’s most car-dependent cities, driving is another dominant mode of transport in Melbourne, especially if you live in isolated suburbs, where you might find it more convenient and practical to buy or rent your own ride.
If you live in an area where walking, cycling, trams, trains and buses are easily accessible, you may feel you don’t need a car every day. But when you do wish to drive – be it to explore parts of Melbourne that are further from the city centre or when you’re in the middle of a move – the city provides car-sharing services like Flexicar, GoGet, KINTO, Popcar and Car Next Door.
To drive in Melbourne, you must have a valid overseas driving licence or International Driver Permit for the first six months of entering Australia. If you want to keep driving after, you must get a Victorian driver’s licence.
When driving in Melbourne, it goes without saying that you must follow road rules. You’ll also need to get used to driving on the left-hand side of the road, sharing roads with tram services and making hook turns.
5. Taxi and rideshare services
Taxis in the city are easily recognisable – they’re usually bright yellow, silver or white, and have a “taxi” sign atop their roofs. They’re also known for being the most expensive mode of transport in Melbourne, with the base fee starting at $4.20 and the kilometre price at $1.62.
You can hire a taxi through phone or online booking, waiting at a designated taxi stand or hail from the side of the road. Every fare is metered and regulated by the government, and extra charges like road tolls and late-night surcharges can apply.
An alternative to taxis is rideshare services like Uber, DiDi, Ola and Shebah. Like any other ride-hailing service worldwide, you simply set your pick-up and drop-off location in the app, and the fare would show. When your ride is confirmed, the driver and vehicle information will appear, and the app will track their estimated arrival on a map. Payment is typically made through credit or debit card in the app unless you opt for cash.
6. Bicycle and on foot
Riding a bike is an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to get around Melbourne. Thankfully, the city has an extensive network of bicycle paths and lanes that can be used for both commuting and recreation, making it cyclist-friendly.
You can ride your own bicycle or hire an electric-share bike known as Lime through the Uber or Lime app. When cycling, always be wary of trams stopping, especially in the central business district. You should also always give way to pedestrians, comply with road rules and wear a helmet. If you’re riding at night, you’ll need to equip your bike with lights and wear bright, reflective clothing.
Commuting on foot? You’ll be glad to know that Melbourne has well-developed footpaths and various walking trails in and around the city. While it is perfectly safe to walk the streets of Melbourne, it’s preferred to stick to well-lit streets, especially at night. Always keep a lookout for oncoming traffic when crossing roads (cars in Melbourne approach from the left-hand side), tram stops and bicycle lanes.