The Public Transport System in Melbourne can be frustrating and confusing to new users (especially the train lines). Comprised of a rail network, on-road trams, and buses, the Metlink system won’t win any awards for punctuality, but offers a fairly extensive network of relatively clean and safe travel for the masses.
Each mode of public transport is owned and operated by a private company*, but all conveniently use the same Metlink ticketing system. This means that a ticket purchased for a train, will also allow you to connect to a tram or bus you may need to reach your final destination (as long as your ticket hasn’t expired).
Metlink Tickets are available in 2-hour, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly forms. Two-hour and daily tickets can be purchased at machines in all train stations (make sure you bring coins), on trams, or from a bus driver. Weekly, monthly, and yearly passes must be purchased from major train stations or newsagents advertising them with the colourful Metlink banner.
At the time of writing, the Metlink system is in the process of switching to Myki, an electronic, chip-card system that allows customers to prepay for travel trips online (or through an extremely limited number of special machines), and then swipe a card at transport barriers, automatically deducting the cost of travel from their accounts. As initial uses of this system have proved inaccurate, poorly implemented, and incompatible across the whole Metlink system, it is highly recommended that casual Metlink users avoid this new system until its implementation is more complete. If you commute everyday, it may make sense to try the new Myki system, as it offers reduced daily costs for continual use.
*The train system is operated by Metro Trains Melbourne, the trams by Yarra Trams, and the buses by a consortium of over 50 independent businesses.