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Friday 2 November 2018

How Melbourne's best-kept travel secret can save you money

It costs around $60-70 to travel between Melbourne Airport and downtown in a taxi, depending on the traffic and your destination. Your driver may be smelly and have no idea where he is going. 

Catching the shiny red Skybus from the airport to Southern Cross station costs $19 one way (and the price seems to rise regularly). But you do get free wifi. 

There is, as yet, no fast rail link between the airport and the city (although it has been discussed for decades), but you can catch public transport for around a quarter of the Skybus cost (and even less if you are a senior).

The strange thing is that Melbourne Airport keeps the public transport option as hard-to-discover as possible. Signs for Skybus are everywhere, and it stops outside the main terminals.

The public transport option (for which you must have a Myki transport card, which attracts a one-time only $6 fee) is tucked away in a parking garage across the road from the horrid terminal four (used by Virgin, Jetstar and Tiger). 

I remember first reading about the bus/train option on Tim Richards' excellent blog a couple of years ago but this week, with time to spare, was the first week I had used it. 

On a return trip I saved enough for a cup of good coffee (this is Melbourne after all) every day for a week, or a couple of glasses of natural wine at one of Melbourne's hipster wine bars. 

First, note this option is not ideal if you are toting heavy baggage from an international flight, or if you are in a hurry.

First head for the T4 parking area and seek out the local bus stop for service 901 (look for the tiny PT public transport sign). Then take the bus 901 (destination Frankston) to Broadmeadows Station, around 20-minute drive. Buses depart every 15 minutes or so.

From Broadmeadows catch a local train (Caigieburn line) to whichever of the City Loop stations that suits you best. In my case this was Parliament. On you way, your train will meander through suburbs you have never heard of; like Glenroy and Strathmore. 

Step out and you are right in the centre of Melbourne. With spare cash in your pocket. The entire journey takes around an hour.       

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