NOTE: For the latest information, see my 2013 update to this blog post by clicking here]
The cost of getting to and from airports throughout the Western world can be outrageously expensive, and Melbourne is not immune to this problem.
However.... there is a way of getting to and from Melbourne Airport cheaply, though the airport authorities and other vested interests would much rather you didn't learn what I'm about to tell you.
So draw your chairs closer to the fire, lean in and discover how to save a tidy bit of cash...
For the cheap-arses among us, there is a relatively new and much cheaper way into the city centre than the 20 minute $17 Skybus journey, though of course it takes longer (about 60 minutes).
This is how it works. On leaving the airport terminals, turn right and walk about 500 metres, all the way past the separate Terminal 4 where Tiger Airways flies from.
You’ll eventually reach a regular suburban bus stop – this is where the airport has hidden it in the hope that travellers will never find it.
Here you catch the 901 bus to Frankston, which leaves every 15 minutes from about 5am to midnight (timetable here). Buy a 2-hour Zone 1+2 ticket from the driver, or if you have the new Myki smartcard just touch on via the validator inside the door.
When the bus reaches Broadmeadows train station, get out and walk through the underpass to Platform 1. From here a train will take you straight to the city centre (timetable here).
The fare for the Metcard ticket from the bus driver is $6.50, and has the advantage of being able to be used on all public transport for the duration of the two hours – so it covers both the bus and train, and you could also transfer to a tram when you reach the city centre (for example).
Metcard tickets will be removed at the end of 2012 in favour of the already-running Myki smartcard system; presumably by then you’ll be able to buy Myki cards at the airport, though they’re not available there yet (I'll amend this info as it changes).
The Myki fare is even cheaper – just $5.54 for 2 hours. Even better, on Saturday & Sunday the Myki fare is only $3.30 for all-day travel.
The catch is that you must buy the Myki card for $6 and top it up with credit to be able to use it; though of course you’ll be able to keep using it during your stay in Melbourne, and retain it for use on any future visits.
The other good thing is that the 901+train option gets you straight into the
“being in Melbourne” experience – you can eavesdrop on some pretty
entertaining conversations on the train from Broady, which has a reputation for being one of Melbourne's tougher suburbs.
Don't let that put you off catching the train from Broadmeadows though, as it's a staffed, well-lit station.
So happy flying - and enjoy the cheap ride to/from Melbourne Airport.
[NOTE: For the latest information, see my 2013 update to this blog post by clicking here]