The Melbourne public transport system has to be one of the best in the world and is extremely user-friendly.
Many Melburnians don't even bother owning a car. The trains and trams can get them pretty much anywhere they need to go - and they don't cost a fortune.
There are two zones for Melbourne public transport. Zone One doesn't venture too far out of the city and all trams operate within it. Zone Two takes you out to the more distant suburbs. Melbourne trains use both zones.
I'm going to deal with domestic train services on this site. These trains operate out of Flinders Street Station. For more long distance rail travel, you have to go to Southern Cross Station, where you can catch a train to Sydney, for example.
The most convenient section of the Melbourne public transport system for getting round the city and its close environs. These vehicles are numerous and, if you just miss one, there'll be another along within a few minutes.
There is a bus service, but Alison and I never used it. The tram and train were much more convenient. I think the buses come into their own in outlying suburbs, where the trams may not be as prevalent.
This is only being included in the interest of completeness as they are, after all, a type of Melbourne public transport. Useful only as a last resort, they are obviously, a lot more expensive to use.
These bright yellow vehicles are usually manned by people of, let's say, ethnic diversity. You may find that, when they find out where you want to go, if it's not to their liking, they'll refuse to take you. Apparently, this practice is now against the law, but some still do it.
This is a convenient method of paying for tram, train and bus journeys that was introduced in December, 2012. Prior to this, whenever Alison and I had used the train, we'd had to queue up at the ticket office in Flinders Street Station to pay our fare. If using the tram, we had to insert money into a ticket machine on board the moving tram.
On our 2013 visit, we were able to buy a myki visitor's pack. The main thing in this pack is the myki card, a credit-card-sized smartcard, on which you can store money. The card itself costs $6, but, as it comes already loaded with $8 travel money, you have to pay $14. When we got ours, we asked them to add another $12 on. This almost lasted us the whole of our holiday.
The pack also includes a public transport map and a whole host of discount vouchers, worth a total of $130. We used one of these for the Williamstown ferry when we went there.
To use this card on trams, when you get on, you'll see the myki reader. You just hold your card against the screen until it bleeps. This is "touch on". Within zone one, you don't really need to "touch off" at the end of your journey. The set fare for all tram journeys is $3.50.
For train journeys, you'll see myki readers at the entrances and exits of stations. You need to both touch on and touch off in this case. If you venture into zone two, the fare goes up to $5.92. At weekends and on public holidays, there is a special all-day fare of $3.50 for as many journeys as you want.
When the card runs out of money, you can top it up at a whole host of outlets. Those displaying the myki sign include convenience stores, 7-Elevens and newsagents.
The card can be purchased from the Visitor Centre in Federation Square. Inside, take the stairs to the basement and walk down to the far end, where the gift shop is. You'll see the myki logo. The card is valid for four years.