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Melbourne - City Transport

 
 
Melbourne's efficient public transport system of trams, trains and buses is called The Met , and a range of tickets is available. Unless you're going on a day-trip to the outer suburbs, you can get anywhere you need to, including St Kilda and Williamstown, on a zone 1 ticket. A ticket covering zones 1 and 2 will get you as far as Brighton Beach, Sandringham and Carrum on Port Phillip Bay, Springvale and Glen Waverley in the southeast, Alamein and Canterbury in the east, and to the end of all Met train lines in the north and west. Zone 3 includes the "far east" and "far south-east" - Frankston, Cranbourne, Ferntree Gully, Ringwood and Lilydale. An ordinary zone 1 ticket costs $2.60, a short hop $1.90; these tickets are valid for two hours, or all night if bought after 7pm. A day-ticket ($5 for zone 1; $8 for zones 1 and 2; $10.80 for zones 1, 2 and 3) is better value if you're making a few trips in zone 1, or if you are planning a trip to the outer suburbs. For longer stays, a weekly ticket ($21.70) is an even better bargain. The Metcard automated ticketing system, which operates on all services in the metropolitan area, means you need to validate your ticket by machine every time you board a new vehicle. Vending machines on board trams supply tickets for short trips and two hours; these and day-tickets are also available from vending machines at train stations, buses (a limited selection only), the City Met Shop at 103 Elizabeth St and other selected shops (most newsagents, some milk bars and pharmacies). The supposedly smooth-running system has its hiccups, such as out-of-order coin machines, fare dodgers, and ticket inspectors riding trams and blocking station exits in an attempt to catch them. Melbourne's beloved tram conductors, who were officially phased out in 1998, reappeared in 2001, with one hundred "connies" selling tickets (more expensive than those bought at newsagents and the like), providing travel information and checking for fare evasion.

 

Services operate Monday to Saturday from 5am until midnight, and Sunday from 8am until 11pm, supplemented in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday by NightRider buses (every 60min 12.30-4.30am; $5), which head from the City Square (in front of the new Westin Hotel ) on Swanston Street to the outer suburbs, more or less in the same direction as the suburban train routes. Each bus has an onboard mobile phone, on which the driver can book a taxi to meet you at a bus stop (free call), or you can call a friend ($1) to meet you. For further information, call the Met Transport Information Centre (daily 6am-midnight; tel 13 1638; for a range of public transport information including timetables and disability services, visit www.victrip.com.au ).

Driving and cycling in Melbourne
Driving in Melbourne requires some care, mainly because of the trams. You can overtake a tram only on the left and must stop and wait behind it while passengers get on and off, as they step directly into the road (there's no need to stop if there's a central pedestrian island). A peculiar rule has developed to accommodate trams at major intersections in the city centre: when turning right, you pull over to the left-hand lane and wait for the lights to change to amber before turning - a so-called "hook turn". Signs overhead indicate when this rule applies.

Cyclists should also watch out for tram lines - tyres can easily get wedged in them. This apart, Melbourne is perfect for cycling and you'll be in good company as it's a popular way of getting around. The friendly staff at Bicycle Victoria, 19 O'Connell St, North Melbourne (Mon-Fri 8.45am-5.15pm; tel 03/9328 3000), assist with practical information and hand out The Great Rides Wall Planner listing their organized bike rides in Victoria and interstate; cycle enthusiasts might also want to buy a copy of the booklet Discovering Victoria's Bike Paths ($18.95), available at Bicycle Victoria or at newsagents.

Trams
Melbourne's trams give the city a distinctive character and provide a pleasant, environmentally friendly way of getting around: the City Circle is particularly convenient, and free. Trams run down the centre of the road, and stops are signposted; they often have central islands where you can wait, but if not, take care crossing the road. It can be uncomfortable waiting in the middle of a busy road, especially for a woman alone at night - you may feel less vulnerable waiting on the footpath, where there's often a shelter anyway. Some trams can be boarded only at the front; others also have access via middle and rear doors. A fleet of modern, low-floor, European-style trams was introduced in 2001, providing improved access for people with disabilities.

Trains
Trains are the fastest way to reach distant suburbs. An underground loop system feeding into seventeen suburban lines connects the city centre's five train stations: Spencer Street , which also serves as the station for interstate and country trains; Flagstaff on the corner of Latrobe and William streets; Melbourne Central on the corner of Swanston and Latrobe streets; Parliament on Spring Street; and Flinders Street . The last is the main suburban station, with its clocks detailing the times of all train departures ("under the clocks" is a traditional Melbourne meeting place). Bikes can be carried free, except during peak periods (Mon-Fri 7-9.30am & 4-6pm), when an extra adult concession fee has to be paid. Surfboards can also be brought on board, for which an extra adult concession fee is payable.
Buses
Regular buses often run on the same routes as trams as well as filling gaps where no train or tram lines run, but they are likely to be the least useful mode of public transport for visitors. However, the City Explorer might be the easy answer to sightseeing headaches - and footaches. The red double-decker (tel 03/9650 7000, fax 9650 7033; every 60min 10am-4pm), tickets for which should be bought on-board (day-ticket $24.50, two-day ticket $38.50) does circuits of the city, starting from Melbourne Town Hall and running past the Rialto Observation Deck and the Polly Woodside Maritime Museum to the Arts Centre south of the CBD, then back up the eastern side of the city to Lygon Street, the Zoo, Queen Victoria Market and Melbourne Central. Passengers can stay on the bus and use it as a sightseeing tour, or jump off and reboard later. The same company also runs very inexpensive night tours, shopping tours, tours of the city including sites and meals, and half- and full-day sightseeing tours going out to Melbourne's suburbs.

 
Also See:
 
Arrival
Information
City Transport
Eating And Drinking
Nightlife And Entertainment
Gay And Lesbian Melbourne
Best Of
Tours From Melbourne
Shopping
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Explore Melbourne
Hotels in Melbourne
 
 

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