For Melbourne’s Public Transport veterans, this is all probably common knowledge but for rural and international students, the train, bus, and tram system is a decent uphill struggle. So here’s your realest survival guide to making it through the tunnels in one piece.
The Art of City Loopin’
If you’re coming into Flinders Street Station that usually means it’s the last stop before the service terminates or the train will loop back in to the direction it came from via the City Loop. If it’s the latter then you’ll hit Southern Cross, Flagstaff, Melbourne Central, and Parliament Station. Richmond and South Yarra Station follow the city loop 80% of the time depending on the route but sometimes, instead of hitting the city loop your train will skip it and head back to Richmond Station or to a different one which can be a huge pain if you needed to get off at one of the stations on the city loop. So, when your train banks at Flinders, make sure you check the electronic board with the train route details so you know whether to stay on or get off.
While checking your route details, you could also glance at the platform next to you to see if it that train is also taking the city loop but at a nearer departure time. It might only make a minute or two of a difference but it could mean catching your connecting bus home.
PTV App/ Google Mapping it
It’s a free app which you can plan trips on up to the minute as well as inform you on any possible delays or service disruptions/terminations. But if you don’t have any room left on your phone for another app, then just Google Map your destination and it essentially does the same thing for you.
Free Tram Zone
The Free Tram Zone runs in a sort of rectangle around Melbourne hitting all the hot spots from Flinders Street, to Queen Victoria Market, all the way to Docklands and then back toward Batman Park. There really are no hidden costs and even if you do accidentally touch on, it won’t deduct from the money you already have on there. Constant overhead announcements will also keep telling you if you’re in the Free Tram Zone in case you see a Myki Inspector. The FTZ is a great way to skip the city loop for free and allows you to keep your bearings unlike the underground tunnels.
Check out the route of the Free Tram Zone here.
The only minor complication would be touching on once you’ve exited the Free Tram Zone but still being in the tram. Unfortunately a Myki Inspector can fine you, even if you’re just one stop out of the FTZ.
If you’ve been burned by Myki Inspectors before and want to be super sure there’s no way you could possibly be fined then hop onto the City Circle Trams. They’re the old vintage red trams that run for tourist, are completely free and take a similar route as the FTZ trams.
You can see its route here.
Generally, bus’ are good for going in and out of the city rather than travelling within it. Before taking a bus, google its route because there could be two different routes from the same starting point to the same direction.
For example a 305 bus will take you from the city and into the suburbs in thirty minutes via the fast-moving freeway. The 207 bus will go around the city first, take the back roads, go around your suburb and then arrive at your destination an hour and a half later.
Hire a bike
If you can hold yourself on your own then consider hiring a bike to get around the city. You wouldn’t have to worry about delays and you can literally travel on your own time. With the CBD filled with bike tracks, it’s a mode of transport to seriously consider. In saying that, if the ongoing “car vs bike” fiasco intimidates you, I’d stick to being stuck in the city loop.
General Tips of Survival
- Salespeople of all kinds will be lingering right outside train stations particularly at university hot spots so channel your inner resting bitch face and just leg it.
- Avoid the underground section of Flinder Street Station if you can. During rush hour it’s a claustrophobic’s nightmare with its seemingly never-ending tunnels and ability to completely kill your bearings.
- People are generally crabby on public transport so don’t stand in front of the door when people are trying to exit, someone will swear at you
- Be aware of the always cranky Myki Inspectors
- No Myki = $229 fine
- Littering =$233 fine
- Feet up on the furniture = $233 fine
- Make sure your concession card is on you otherwise you’ll cop the, “I’m still going to have to fine you because you can’t prove you’re a student” even though you look and talk like one and happen to be carrying your lecture notes. Official university student cards make no difference to their argument, just in case you were wondering…