Ticketing rules you may not know about

Southern Cross StationI have a vague feeling I might have posted something like this in the past, but I can’t find it, so here it is again.

For those of you who don’t read the Victorian Fares and Ticketing Manual for fun, here are some rules about Metcard ticketing that you may not know about. These rules are not expected to change when Myki is introduced. (Edit: Weeklies may change.)

Expiry times

Everyone knows two-hour tickets are rounded up to the next hour [p13]. But if you validate a two-hour ticket right on the hour, it’s valid for three hours.

Validate at or after 6pm and it’s valid until 3am. [p13]

The expiry time means you have to have commenced your trip, eg entered the station paid area, or boarded the tram or bus. [p13]

(It’s unclear what happens if you need to change trains and leave the paid area to do so, as is necessary at some locations.)

If your service was due to depart before the expiry time, but is later than that, or is cancelled, you can still use the ticket for that trip. [p13, p95] Update: This clause is removed under Myki.

The end of the day in ticketing terms is 3am. If you validate a ticket between midnight and 3am, it counts as the day before (eg a Daily will be valid only until 3am.) [p13-14]

This means that a Weekly (etc) ticket that says it’s valid until Wednesday is actually valid until 3am on Thursday morning.

City Saver tickets are only valid for a single trip. This means you can swap trains within the City Saver area, as long as you don’t leave the fare paid zone, but you can’t swap trams or buses. With all other tickets you can swap as much as you like before the expiry time. [p16]


On weekends, a weekly, monthly, yearly ticket is valid in both metropolitan zones. [p15] (At one stage this benefit was to be abolished but they changed their minds.) Update: This benefit is removed under Myki.

If you use a weekly, monthly or yearly and need an extra zone (eg on weekdays), you can just buy the extra “extension” ticket, if necessary at your destination. If you’re on a two-hour or daily ticket you’re meant to have one ticket covering your entire trip.[p94]


A 10 x 2 hour ticket is about a 20% discount from the price of buying individual tickets.[p9]

10 x 2 hour tickets convert into a Daily if you validate the same ticket for a second two-hour block in one day. This effectively makes the 5 x Daily tickets redundant, as they are less flexible.[p13]

If you live in zone 2, you can buy a zone 1+2 off-peak daily for slightly less than a “normal” daily (about the same discount as a 10 x 2 hour), but only from railway stations, and you can only use it after 9am.

For weekends, a Sunday Saver (currently $3.10) or a 5 x Weekend Daily ($15.00) is a good deal.

What did I miss? What did I mess up?

PS. A little radio this morning: ABC AM: New Melbourne tram stops pull up short

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

16 replies on “Ticketing rules you may not know about”

“If your service was due to depart before the expiry time, but is later than that, or is cancelled, you can still use the ticket for that trip.”

Thanks for that, as I have often wondered.

Senior’s card holders can travel free on the Met on Sundays. One simply has to apply for the ticket.

I think it is very poor that one cannot buy a Sunday Saver (and other specialised tickets) from a bus driver etc. I buy all my tickets in advance, but I seem to be in a minority. In my travels I’ve seen many people who are unaware of Sunday Savers. I have told lots of people about them, but then I have to tell them that they can’t be purchased everywhere.

There is also another discounted ticket for weekend use (which is mentioned in Daniel’s ‘more tips’ link;

The 5 x Weekend Daily Metcard is a single ticket allowing five days of unlimited train, tram and bus travel in Zones 1 and 2 on either Saturdays or Sundays for $15.00 ($3.00 per day). This Metcard provides great savings and flexibility for weekend passengers. It can only be used by one person at a time.

Available from Metcard retail outlets, Premium Station ticket windows, the MetShop, online and the Metcard Helpline.

Regarding Zones.

Say I hav Zone 1 monthly ticket, and it’s weekday and I want to go to Zone 2. So I buy an extension ticket which is not validated yet.

I cannot validate it at the station of departure, because it’s a wrong zone for it.

So I end up travelling to zone 2 without having a valid ticket for it. I.e. it is impossible to tell a fare evader from your legal fellow passenger.

It that right?

That’s interesting that you just have to have boarded the service before the expiry time in order to have a valid ticket. I’m sure I’ve seen people on the Railpage forum claim the opposite – that you have a responsibility to ensure that your trip finishes before your ticket’s expiry time. But I’ll take your word over theirs just about any day of the week…

Re: extension tickets
I’ve used the extension ticket a few times, and normally you explain to a staff member at your destination station what you’ve done, and they’ll validate the Z2 ticket for you no problems. Figure out for yourself what happens at all the unstaffed stations.
However, occasionally you’ll find someone that doesn’t seem to know the extension ticket rules, and that can be confronting/difficult – I’ve never had to contest a fine but it helps to know the chapter of the “Fares and Ticketing” manual to reference with regard to extension tickets. (It’s Chapter 10). I assume one could get into a similar situation if you’re in another zone on the vehicle and inspectors arrive. Given the “first available opportunity to validate” clause (which would be the destination station on a train, or once within Z2 on a tram/bus) you should be ok, but again, sometimes some ‘discussion’ may be necessary.

Art, the relevant text is: If the extension ticket is a Metcard, then it must be validated as soon as there is a reasonable opportunity during the journey or, if there is no reasonable opportunity during the journey, then it must be validated as soon as taking all reasonable steps will permit after the journey, in accordance with the conditions set out later in this chapter under the heading “Validation and Re-validation of Metcards”.

Philip, the text says: A passenger may board any train, tram or bus before their ticket expires, even if the journey extends beyond the ticket’s expiry time.

Dave, yeah I was told verbally years ago when I enquired that it was fine to buy/validate the extension ticket at the end if catching a train. I guess on a tram you could buy it yourself after entering the overlap, and could ask the bus driver to do it for you.

Very good summary. I worked indirectly for Metlink many years ago and extension tickets were always a bone of contention – the trouble is that the rules are stupidly vague and some officials interpreted “reasonable opportunity” to mean “get off the train when you enter the next zone, validate your ticket, then wait for the next train.” Seriously! Sanity did prevail in practice most of the time though.

The unavailability of Sunday Savers from ticket machines has also been a huge issue ever since they were introduced. I believe the logic behind it at the time was that we were getting a new ticketing system within a couple of years anyway (ha ha) so it wasn’t worth the expense of adding an extra button to every machine.

The only thing with the two tenths of a ten by two hour is that they have to be on the same ticket. So if you have one left on your ticket ticket left and you want to do a lot of travelling you either have one left on your old ticket and start on your new ticket or you waist money having to use a second two hour on your second ticket for the day for a total of three (punishment for not remembering or thinking of it in the first place).

Hi Daniel,

It used to be that if you started a weekly after 3pm (I think) then the ticket would be valid for the rest of that day plus 7 more days. Is that still the case?


Mike, it applied to Monthlies as well, and I suspect Yearlies. That got removed a few years ago. To be fair, it was that way from days of yore so people could buy their next periodical ticket the day before they wanted to use it, from staff at a station. Since Metcard came in, you can do that and just validate it when you first use it, for the same overall effect.

Daniel – thanks for the summary but some more queries:

1. Understood re tickets still being valid even after expiry if the first available train is cancelled and the next is after the ‘2hrs’ has finished. But what about if you have a 10x2hr ticket that would not have expired before the cancelled train was due to run BUT you didn’t get to the station by that time (because you had SMS-alert and did some shopping etc)? Does one simply not validate the 10x2hr ticket? And what if there are barriers/staff etc? Or do you validate and have to claim one 2hr portion back somehow?

2. Suppose you have a 2hr ticket. Does this entitle you to stay in the fare paid area for much longer than 2hrs? Eg catch train from Cranbourne-Dandenong, stay in Dandenong for 1hr, then go to Flinders St. You don’t leave the fare paid area, so can you board (say) a Epping train. Or do you need to leave the paid area, and go validate your ticket again? And same for a 10x2hr? My guess is you have to, but it’s different from subways overseas where you can stay in for as long as you like.

3. Similar to 2. but you’re making a transfer to an Alamein train at Camberwell (or Williamstown at Newport) when travelling from the city. Is this considered one train trip or two (ie must your 2hr ticket be current even when you change at Camberwell or is it enough that it’s valid when you board at FSS? (noting that at some times of the day they’re straight through – effectively devaluing a 2hr ticket during off peak).


1. The rule is if you’re not inside the paid zone before the ticket expires, you can’t travel without getting another ticket. Bad luck. (Obviously if you are dishonest you could lie about it. But fare evasion is outside the scope of this article.)

2. Yes. Finish your trip, as long as you don’t leave the paid area.

3. Changing trains is fine, as long as you don’t leave the paid area. On weekends for instance trains from the city use Camberwell platform 2, so you can simply cross the platform for Alamein.

At some times of day (especially on weekdays) you may have to leave the paid area to do that change of trains. As I mentioned in the post, the rules here are unclear.

I’ve had trouble with the City Saver tickets that replaced the short trip tickets a while ago. After how many years of the current system and umpteen notices placed around saying tickets purchased from the machine do not require validation, now and then I get someone upset that their ticket has been stamped “Expired”.

While the system is easier than the “2 sections”, they are somewhat pricey for their limited use. One thing I don’t understand is why a one-way ticket isn’t used. It would be easy to check the validity for the purposes of checking and straight forward – for a price you can travel the entire length of that service, I get asked about them, mostly from tourists, and I can’t see why such a basic, easy to understand ticket is missing from the arsenal.

Thank you for publishing this info though. I knew about the “after 6pm” trick and the 2-hour “stretching”, but the others were news to me! Good work!

What I really want to know is whether the zap-on zap-off with myki will cause changes to the ability to finish your journey on the one 2hr ticket. Say you’ve zapped it getting on at 5 minutes before the end of your two(+) hours. Then you zap off at the end of your journey half an hour later. Will it REALLY count it as just the 2 hours, or go “nup, you were travelling for longer, daily for you.”.

Somehow I don’t trust it/them to keep it the way it is. It would also be easier to make it 2hrs exactly from validation rather than letting it stretch to 3. I’m just waiting for “silent” changes to the system. Terrible to be so cynical, innit?

Indeed. Myki will certainly be interesting in terms of how they incorporate the current rules. I’m betting they may not be as lenient. Either way, it won’t be making much of a dent in terms of fare evasion and it will slow down trams at least – hence me not joining the Myki fan club.

Poneke in NZ blogs periodically about the Snapper card which is similar to Myki except that it is actually in use :)

They had huge difficulties when it first started with non-detection of swiping but it’s mostly working now. And yes, the operators took the opportunity to “tighten up” in their favour a number of laxities of the paper system.

It’s hard to tell what will happen in Melbourne, there are lots of places where the parts of the bureaucrazy that want to punish PT users can run amok, but there’s also opportunities for the same system to save people a lot by automatically calculating the cheapest fare. What I want to see is a bit of smartness along the lines of “{beep} if you wait 3 minutes you can still catch your train and will save $1.20”.

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