Friday, September 2, 2011

Getting around Melbourne ..

Melbourne is a city that spreads across a very wide expanse with the CBD itself relatively small – spanning just around 8 by 4 city blocks only! 

So you will probably find yourself in the car or on public transport a great deal of your time! :D

In any case, here is a quick summary of your transport options in getting around Melbourne:

  • Car 
    • While public transport is available, it is nothing to shout about especially as you get further away from the CBD. Not to mention, extremely expensive especially for short trips – this costs $2.90 even if you travel just 100m! 
    • So by far, Car is the transport mode of choice for most Melbournians and is pretty much essential! 
    • If you already have a driving license from your home country, you can drive a car without converting to a local license – at least for a while. The license needs to be in English though – if not you might need an official translation or an International Driving Permit. For more details, here is the official Vicroads website on this topic 
    • Note: I’ll be covering the topic of “Buying a Car” in a not-too-future post! 
  • Tram 
    • I personally love the tram network! They are an Australian icon, quaint, efficient, clean, great for the environment and runs quite regularly. 
    • Unfortunately, the coverage is very limited – basically covering only the CBD and some of the inner city suburbs. So that rules out most of Melbourne.
  • Train 
    • The trains run quite well during the weekday peak hours, but off-peak hours are a nightmare with the wait in between trains being horrendous. Expect to wait up to an hour if you miss your train! 
    • Also, train stations – particularly the ones further away from the CBD – are quite unsafe and not a good idea to hang around too long especially after dark. The locals generally time their arrival at the station not long before the scheduled train arrives to limit their waiting time at the station. 
    • Good news is that the recently elected new State government has promised to fix the security issue by deploying security staff at the stations. Previously most stations had NO SECURITY at all! :O
  • Bus 
    • Buses in Melbourne are generally a complementary service to the primary tram/train network. The tram/train network spreads straight out from the CBD with the buses covering the gaps in between. 
    • They are clean, efficient and safe. Frankly, it’s a wonder to me why they are not used more extensively to alleviate the public transport woes in Melbourne.
  • Taxi 
    • As mentioned in my earlier post, taxis are very expensive in Melbourne. For example, I took a maxi-cab from the Airport to the City and it costs AUD$99 ! :O
    • In addition, many of the drivers are new immigrants (mainly from India or Africa) and do not know their way around that well.
    • Having said that, if you don’t have a car, taxis are pretty much your best choice as it gets late – with the train / tram system being quite unsafe at night.


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