Cheaper, faster, better: Seven easy public transport hacks

Man at train station touching on with Myki card.

Sue Hewitt

Posted January 21, 2020

Seven public transport hacks to save you time, money and headaches.

Another year, another fare hike on public transport. On 1 January, daily fares on Melbourne public transport jumped to $9 ($4.50 concession) while a two-hour fare will now set you back $4.50 ($2.25 concession). But there are ways to take the sting out of your daily commute with some simple hacks to save you money, time and hassle. 

Ride free

For starters, early birds get a free ride – literally. Touch on and off before 7.15am on weekdays and your train trip will be free. Perfect for tradies and those with flexible work hours who want to come in early and use the gym before work.  

Not an early riser? You can still get a 10 per cent discount on the cost of an annual myki pass if you buy it through a workplace that uses Public Transport Victoria’s Commuter Club.

That’s a saving of more than $175 a year, so it’s worth talking to your employer about.  

Of course, if you’re making a short trip within the CBD you enjoy a free ride as long as you start and end your journey within the free tram zone. 

Beat the crush 

But free doesn’t always mean an easy ride. Free city trams can cause crushing crowds in the CBD until you get to the city edge where freeloaders get off. PTUA spokesman Daniel Bowen says you can often avoid the crush by simply hopping on the wrong tram.

“If you’re in Bourke Street and need a number 96 tram but they’re all packed then don’t wait for the next 96,” he says. “Instead hop on [an alternative] tram and hop off at the city edge where the free travellers hop off which leaves a seat on your number 96 when it arrives.” 

Walking back a stop in the wrong direction might also help you snag a seat on a crowded tram. At busy stops such as outside Flinders Street Station, it’s wise to walk to a previous stop to board a tram before the crowds get on. 

When it comes to trains, avoiding a crowded peak-hour carriage might be as simple as walking to the far end of the platform. Daniel says end carriages are usually less crowded – you might even get a seat. 

Replace the replacement bus

He says when buses are replacing train services, you might like to seek out a different route altogether. “You might have to go across town and catch a train into the city, but it can be worth it because of the long delays with buses,” he says. 

V/Line bonus

Most regional travellers know catching an off-peak V/Line service will save them money, but many city travellers might be unaware they can take two children (under 19) free when catching a V/Line service to the country.  

The good news for regional commuters is that regional town bus fares remain unchanged at $4.80 for a daily fare and $2.40 for two hours.

Keep it moving

At busy city stations, we can all play a part in keeping things moving quickly and efficiently, especially during crowded peak hours. 

A Metro Trains spokesperson says there’s no need to wait for the myki gates to close after the person in front before touching on. “The myki readers are faster than the gates, which means you can touch on straight after the person in front of you and don’t need to wait for the gates to close. This will get you in and out of the station faster.”

On your feet

He says we can also help keep things running smoothly by avoiding accidents in and around trains. He says Metro recorded more than 1000 avoidable slips, trips and falls across the network, many of which required medical assistance and caused train delays. 

To help reinforce its safety message Metro has released a bloopers video showing CCTV footage of avoidable accidents.


Delays affect the punctuality and reliability of public transport and if a train or tram service falls below set standards, passengers may receive compensation equal to their daily fare.

Public Transport Victoria’s website, which offers advice on eligibility and how to claim compensation, says compensation is only available for Myki passes valid for 28 days or longer, not pay-as-you-go or weekly passes.

To make everyone’s journey more comfortable, ensure you avoid the 28 cardinal sins of commuting.


More public transport hacks to save you money and headaches:

  • Companies and organisations can buy 10 per cent discounted yearly myki passes on behalf of employees or members through PTV’s Commuter Club. 

  • V/Line “family traveller” tickets allow one adult to take two children aged under 19 for free on off-peak trains.

  • V/Line also has regular deals for discounted entry to major events and attractions such as Sovereign Hill and Big Bash cricket, when passengers travel to the destination with V/Line.

  • Get nine hours’ travel for the price of two by touching on your myki after 6pm – you can travel until 3am the next day without extra charge.

  • Seniors Card holders get free weekend travel in any two consecutive zones and on regional town buses as well as travel vouchers for such things as free V/Line return tickets.

  • People using wheelchairs or with prams or luggage can download the Yarra Trams app to pinpoint a low-floor tram.

  • Use apps from Yarra Trams, Metro Trains and RACV’s arevo to keep up to date with service disruptions.

  • When you buy an annual myki pass for 365 days from the PTV you only pay for 325 days – that’s 40 days free.