Firstly, if you ever catch a tram within the CBD or inner-city suburbs you do not need to tag off.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO TAG OFF.
Little irritates me more than commuters blocking the tram exit desperately trying to tag off despite everyone else telling them not to. It’s one way to find yourself at the receiving end of scathing looks or have a tram driver get out of his cab and yell at you as I witnessed in St Kilda.
But you do need to tag off if you’re catching a train, bus or tram in Zone 2. Confused? Welcome to Melbourne’s Myki system. If you thought you could escape all this by buying a ticket you’d be much mistake as there are none – only Myki’s.
What is a Myki?
It’s your pass to the wonders of Melbourne’s public transport network!
This is my Myki, ain’t she a green and white beauty?
To be correct this is Myki #2 as I left #1 at home once and had to buy another to catch a train. This brings me to my second irritation – as there are no tickets available you have to buy a $6 Myki card every time you forget yours. I’ve done well to only forget mine once. $6 for a Myki + $3.50 (minimum) journey cost and thats nearly $10 for a train ride – Eugh.
Myki’s are pretty simple to use. Purchase a Myki for $6 (sold at stations, 7/11, newsagencies), top it up with credit and tag on (and sometimes off) each time you hop on a tram/train/bus.
The fares differ between Zones, there’s Zone 1, Zone 1 or 2 and Zone 2. I could list the suburbs included in each but for a far better visual representation take a look at the PTV Zone maps here. In over a year here I’ve only ever travelled to Zone 2 once and that was to visit IKEA in Springvale – which is way out past Clayton.
If you’re still wondering why you don’t need to tag off in Zone 1, here’s the official response from the Public Transport Victoria website:
“If you travel by tram within Zone 1 only, you do not need to touch off to pay the lowest fare. If you do not touch off, the system charges a 2 hour Zone 1 myki money fare the next time you touch on. This is the same fare you would pay if you did touch off. If your trip is entirely in Zone 2, you must touch off to pay the Zone 2 fare.”
This means you’ll only be charged one far for catching a tram multiple times within two hours. It also saves time which brings me to my next point.
Myki’s are a little slow. Touching on can take a couple of attempts (watch for the green light) and yes, you do want to make sure you’ve done it right as guards frequently patrol trams – fines are not your friend. Touching off can also take a couple of attempts which has the potential to cause a pile-up during peak hour if everyone tagged off. Thankfully we don’t need to.
You can always avoid Myki’s entirely by catching one of Melbourne’s free trams. The City Circle Tourist Trams circle the city and are free to hop on/off. The trams pass tourist attractions such as Queen Vic Markets, Fitzroy Gardens, Parliament House, Princess Theatre and shopping malls. You can view a route map here.
The trams are old heritage W class trams in maroon or green. Each tram also carries tourist information leaflets so you can easily make a day out of tram-riding and touristing.
Don’t get hit by a tram
In 2012 Melbourne’s Metro Trams released a safety ad ‘Dumb Ways To Die’ to illustrate this very point. The ad became a viral hit and is well worth a watch – it’s a catchy song with cute characters… that kill themselves in idiotic ways.
But don’t let this put you off catching trams. Melbourne trams are iconic (we have the third largest network in the world!) and one of the most convenient ways to get around. Although tram routes might seem a little tricky to figure out at first just remember the city is based on a grid with trams running north/south, east/west and you can’t go too wrong. Tram Tracker is a useful and free app for checking what trams are nearby, where they’re going and how long until the next one arrives – meaning more time in the pub and less time waiting in the rain.
With a network that dates all the way back to 1885, you can’t say you’ve truly experienced Melbourne until you’ve ridden on a tram.
But please, please do not tag off in Zone 1.
Have any other tips for newbies navigating Melbourne’s public transport network? Please share them below!
Need More Info?
Public Transport Victoria