Trams are Melbourne’s lifeline. You cannot imagine life in Melbourne without them. While the residents of Melbourne may not use them daily but as a tourist it is a big bonus, specially the City Circle Trams, which not only take you to major city attractions but are free to use too.
This major lifeline of the city is in fact the world’s largest operating tram network servicing more than 210 million passengers daily. On any given week day there are over 400 trams on road during the peak hours.
The Government takes the upgrade of the tram network very seriously by regularly upgrading the network and maintaining it as a world class system. It is second most used form of public transport and is way ahead of some of the major cities in the world, like St Petersburg, Moscow and Berlin.
Trams covers more than 250 kms of double track and have 25 routes of which one is the free City Circle route. There are more than 1700 trams stops on roads of which 75 percent is shared with other vehicles. The trams run at an average speed of 16 kmph but once they enter the Central Business District their speed drops to 11 kmph.
The story of trams began in 1884 when on 20 December a horse tram ran from Fairfield station to a real estate development in Thornbury. However it was closed in 1890. There were three lines and seven horse trams. Slowly these were replaced by electric trams with the first one starting on 14 October 1889 between Box Hill and Doncaster. However this too was closed after seven years when a new private service began in October 1906.
In 1983 the entire Victoria public system was reorganized and in January 2015 the trams in Central Business District was made free. It is surely a big boost to Melbourne tourism as well.