How Melbourne Public Transport Works


Melbourne’s public transport system can be a source of confusion for some visitors to the city. But to be fair, it’s also an ongoing source of confusion for most Melbournians.

While we touched on the basics of the system in our look at the things travellers need to organise upon arriving in Australia, a more detailed explanation is necessary for anyone heading to Melbourne.


A MYKI card allows travel on trains, trams, and buses. Cards are available from train stations, 7-Eleven stores, online, some tram stops and on board buses. The card itself costs AUD$6.00 and they can be topped up with credit at stations and online.

Touch on, touch off

On trains, you need to touch your MYKI on the reader at the beginning and at the end of your journey. On buses and trams, you only touch your MYKI on the reader at the beginning of the journey.


The MYKI will automatically calculate the cost of the entire journey and deduct it from the credit on your MYKI. Exactly how the cost of each journey is calculated is one of the great mysteries of the southern hemisphere.  It’s helpful to remember that as long as your MYKI has some credit, even if just 5 cents, you’ll still be able to make a full journey; your MYKI credit will then go into a negative value, which will need to be made up when you top up credit before your next journey.


The public transport network is divided into two zones. Zone 1 covers the central metropolitan suburbs, extending approximately 15km out from the CBD. Most travel that tourists undertake will be in Zone 1. Outer suburban areas make up Zone 2. Some tourist attractions like Puffing Billy in Belgrave, and Werribee Open Range Zoo are in Zone 2.

Free Tram Zone

Trams in the CBD, including the Docklands and the area surrounding the Queen Victoria Market are free. There’s no need to touch on your MYKI. You don’t even need a MYKI.

But: if your tram journey goes beyond the free tram zone (if you’re going from the CBD to St Kilda, for example) you will need to touch on your MYKI at the beginning of your journey.

Ticket Inspectors

Patrolling trains and trams are teams of inspectors. They’ll check whether your MYKI has credit and has been touched on.  At AUD$229, fines for fare evading aren’t small. You won’t be asked to pay on the spot, instead, you’ll need to provide a name and address and you will then be sent the fine. Once this has been issued, you are then able to contest the fine. The best way to do this is to explain in a reasonable and apologetic way that you’re a tourist and you were genuinely trying to do the right thing but were confused about the touching-on system. We can’t guarantee you’ll be successful in getting the fine waived, but this is your only real option at this point.

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