How to find the PTV buses at Melbourne Airport

It’s possible to find Myki machines and regular route buses at Melbourne Airport – but it’s a bit of a walk.

Recently at Melbourne Airport, I hunted down the Myki machines and the PTV buses.

The airport bus most people think of is Skybus – it’s a premium service, and I find it very convenient for heading to and from the CBD or across town, because it’s got stops right outside the terminals, it’s frequent and usually fast, and has train connections at Southern Cross (if you don’t mind a bit of a walk).

Skybus and ticket vending machines outside T2, Melbourne Airport

But for those on a budget, or heading to nearby suburbs, regular PTV route buses might be a better option. Just be prepared for a long walk at the airport from most terminals.

Buying a Myki at the airport

You can’t buy tickets on PTV buses, so if you don’t have a Myki card (and can’t use Mobile Myki on Android) your first task is to find a Myki vending machine. You might also need a vending machine if you need to top up an existing card – though you can also top up instantly using a credit card on any NFC Android or Apple phone.

If you do need a vending machine, there are several in the ground floor/arrival levels of terminals T2, T3 and T4.

(The PTV web site, which lists a five step process to find Myki outlets but has no direct link to the relevant map page, says T1, not T2… but I couldn’t find one in T1.)

In T2 the Myki machine is near a water fountain. In T3 and T4 they’re in amongst the other vending machines.

Myki machine at Melbourne Airport Terminal 2
Myki vending machine in T2, Melbourne Airport
Myki machine at Melbourne Airport Terminal 3
Myki vending machine in T3, Melbourne Airport (between the ATM and the Coke machines)
Myki machine at Melbourne Airport Terminal 4
Myki vending machine in T4, Melbourne Airport

Finding the buses

So now you’ve got your ticket. Your next task is to find the bus interchange – or as they like to call it at MEL, the Ground Transport Hub. You’ll need to ignore all the prominent Skybus signage and instead look for “Public transport” on the signs.

Signage and a Skybus at Melbourne Airport

Follow the signs, and walk down past T4… if you’re lucky, it won’t be raining.

The path towards the T4 car park and bus interchange at Melbourne Airport

The bus interchange is in the ground floor of the T4 car park. Follow the sign to the buses.

Entrance to the T4 car park and bus interchange at Melbourne Airport

If you’re paying attention, you’ll spot this map of the various bus bays, which includes Staff services, buses to some of the many airport car parks, V/Line coaches, and private buses to regional cities.

Map of bus bays at Melbourne Airport's bus interchange

I’m not sure this signage is as good or prominent as it could be, given I got asked for directions while standing nearby.

For the suburban PTV buses you want the far side, right down the end, past the bays for buses to Ballarat and Bendigo.

Melbourne Airport bus interchange, bay 14

You might see a bus parked in bay 16. That’s the Set Down Only bay, so the buses can layover until their next trip. Keep walking. You’re almost there.

Melbourne Airport bus interchange, bay 16

You’re now about 800 metres from Terminal 1, and here’s Bay 17! That’s the one for the 901, which goes to Broadmeadows, the closest Metro station (and then a long trip via Epping, Ringwood and Dandenong to Frankston). It seems nobody’s bothered to update the operator name on the sign from Transdev to Kinetic.

Melbourne Airport bus interchange, bay 17 signage for route 901

Nearby you’ll also find bays 18 and 19 for the other local routes, to Airport West and Sunbury (478, 479, 482). I assume they share bays because they’re so infrequent it’s unlikely there’d be two waiting at once. It’s a shame – they’d be very useful for locals (including thousands of staff) if they ran a decent service.

Melbourne Airport bus interchange, bay 18 for local routes

For some reason they haven’t thought to put a Myki vending machine here, where the buses arrive and depart.

If you’re waiting for the 901, hopefully one will arrive soon, as on weekdays at least the service is reasonably frequent, mostly about every 15 minutes. Only half-hourly in the evenings and weekends though, despite heavy travel demand.

Melbourne Airport bus interchange, bay 17 for the 901 route to Broadmeadows and Frankston
901 bus to Frankston. The presence of luggage trolleys indicates some travellers use this service.

If you’re planning on taking the 901 all the way to Frankston, you’ll need a strong bladder and perhaps a snack and a water bottle. The full trip takes about 4.5 hours, and many of the evening buses don’t make it that far before services stop for the night.

You’ll save 2 hours or more – even with sometimes infrequent connections – by using the 901 as far as Broadmeadows and catch a train to Flinders Street then another train to Frankston.

Skybus to Southern Cross, then a train, is slightly quicker again, saving perhaps another 15-20 minutes for the additional premium fare cost.

The PTV Journey Planner lets you choose the mode(s) you want, for instance you can switch off Skybus if you want the trip by standard fares. The Google Maps planner can exclude trains, but can’t distinguish between standard and premium fare buses.

One day, hopefully, there’ll be a railway station at the airport which will make this all easier (though it’ll likely be a premium fare like Skybus). Even better, hopefully it’ll be a quick walk from the terminals, or even directly under the terminals – which is the option preferred by the Airport.

But in the meantime, if you need to buy a Myki and find the PTV buses at Melbourne Airport, now you know how.

More reading: The cheap way to Melbourne airport

EDIT: Added more info for bus 901.

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.

21 replies on “How to find the PTV buses at Melbourne Airport”

Thanks, again, for fulfilling the role of the Dept of Transport, which has scarce and confusing information about the 901.
My wife and I will actually be using this service (in reverse) soon, catching the train on the Sandringham line to Broadmeadows station, via the city. Then the 901. It will take around 1.5 hours compared to 40 minutes by car. Using PT is free for us but airport parking alone would cost us $278 – to be avoided!

And if going through Broadmeadows:

Getting to the bus from the train is easy, but don’t be mislead by the signage which seems to suggest the bus stop is over the pedestrian bridge on the far side of Pascoe Vale Road – it is actually on the same side as the train station, just head down the ramp and it’s on your right.

Getting from the bus to the train into the city, you need to head to the far platform by going down the pedestrian underpass and wait on the mostly exposed platform away from the nice(er) waiting lounge.

It would be logical to let Airport West bound route 479 to share bay 18 with route 478 and 482, but they’ve made route 479 in both directions share bay 19, making Airport West bound passengers possibly having to run between the two bays, and Sunbury bound passengers having to check the desto.

semi off topic but the airport rail link made me think of it, when is the fed govt infrastructure review due?

I thought it due in a max of 90 days from 11 May, which is now 4 days ago?

I work at Melbourne Airport.Previously lived in West Melbourne and caught Skybus to work.Now in Gladstone Park.I thought about the 901 bus, due to frequency, l chose riding my motorcycle to the staff carpark.As for the train line, they have been talking about it for 40 years.Still nothing.For it’s size, Melbourne Airport is lacking compared even to other states.

When time hasn’t been an issue I’ve used this a few times. Can’t help thinking that the 901 stop placement at the farthest possible point was deliberate, to promote costlier alternatives that probably make more revenue for the airport.

Ironically, pre-pandemic / T4 parking construction the 901 stop was right outside Qantas T1. So easy to use !

And to Robert’s good points about access at Broadmeadows, yes it is easy to be confused about how to access the inbound Metro platform… and then also distinguish the VLine platform, which is barely visible from the west side station entry.

@Matt, noting that the 3rd platform at Broadmeadows is only used for standard gauge V/Line Albury and NSW Trainlink services. V/Line Seymour/Shepparton services depart from the platform nearest the bus stop.

@Janet yes there are several regional bus routes, including to Geelong. Details here:

(I wasn’t aiming to document all the buses, but rather where to find them)

It’s almost a crime that PTV and Melbourne Airport authority deliberately hide these public bus choices. And why did they not put a Myki machine at those bus stops!

Thank you David and others. I live in Essendon and rather than face the ire of taxi drivers who discover that their earnings are going to be meagre, with my trip, I decided to use PTV. I was pleasantly surprised by how cheap and convenient the trip was.
I used the 901 bus to Broady, quick walk to platform 1, train to the city, got off at Essendon, quick walk to tram 59, and voila ! ; was home safe, sound and without having to see a grumpy cab driver or bust my purse !

Depending on the time of day I quite often catch the 901 service to Broady station..and then the train into town and then transfer to my line(Sandringham)..sure it takes longer..especially on weekends when connections aren’t the best…but I’m in no hurry to get home and it’s a much cheaper option..especially on my senior Myki card

The 901 smart bus used to stop right at the kerb of the terminal, now it’s in a car park quite a long walk away,I just found this out a few weeks back, was dam hard work wheeling a heavy suitcase and other luggage. Also found out taxis are a long walk away, the airport is a shamozzle, they need to take a leaf out of Sydney airport, so we’ll organised

Daniel, excellent information for those people neglected in the northern suburbs by Skybus. One might add that the buses to Airport West stop at right at the terminus of Tram 59. Which is frequent and quite quick to the suburbs of Niddre, Essendon, Moonee Ponds, Ascot Vale, Flemington, Travancore and Parkville. Why has an extension to the airport, in this tram efficient city, ever been discussed? The tram used to end at the passenger terminal area at Essendon Aiport when I was a youngster. Clever forefathers!

Thanks for the info Daniel. I’ll be taking this route for the first time tomorrow. After years of escorting family members to the airport, this time I’ve decided to check out the PT route to get back home (luggage-free, adventure-ready). I’ve tried parking near the terminal in the past and that was a nightmare (the parking building was easy to get lost in!).

@ Janet there are 3 options to get to Geelong – these three options all vary in time and cost

The Gull bus which is a direct service and will cost you $39 – this service is the most direct and will take just on an hour

Or you could use a combination of the Skybus/Vline train – this will cost roughly $29 and take 1-2hrs

Or you could use the PTV bus to Craigieburn station, then a metro train into Spencer st, then a Geelong train from Spencer st – my guess is this would take somewhere around 2-3hrs. As this travel mode includes a regional area your daily fare will be capped at $10

Why couldn’t the 902 be changed to run via melbourne airport to improve service frequency. the biggest benefit would be on the wekends where services could be cut down to every 15 minutes.

The additional cost by needing to use more busses and drivers to keep the service to every 15 minutes (as it would take slightly longer) could be offset by removing the 478 (and potentially the 479 Melbourne airport to Airport West leg) bus routes which could just be followed by the new 902 route.

Why are no existing public transport enhancements to the airport being done as a substitute for the delayed airport rail?

(eg. – express train services from broadmeadows to the city (when appropriate)
– 901 Broadmeadows to Mel airport section hourly night network service on Friday and Saturday nights.)

We have an an unusual opportunity to boost contra-peak patronage flow on the craigieburn line and boost services for the local areas that they pass through.

Thank you Daniel. I have been trying to work out how best to get to Castlemaine from the airport (flying in from the UK via Singapore next week) and then how to purchase tickets for the bus and train journeys. It was very frustrating…………until I found your clear guide with accompanying pictures. Now we know all we have to do is locate the ticket vending machine near Teminal 2, then take the long walk to Bay 19 for the bus to Sunbury.

Just to let you know that your guide made all the difference to our escape from the airport to Sunbury. Without it we would have had to request more help and would have missed one bus and had to wait another hour for the next one.
Thank you.

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