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Extending the Free Tram Zone

Oct 22, 2020

Improving Melbourne’s public transport system is essential for reducing congestion, encouraging tourism and improving our economy. We encourage strategies that will improve our public transport system and provide young, elderly and vulnerable Victorians of with easier access to our hospitals, universities and sporting precincts.

We believe that the Free Tram Zine will:

  • Boost the local economy;
  • Improve access to education;
  • Enable the sick and vulnerable sufficient access to our hospitals and health services;
  • Reducing congestion in the CBD;
  • Increase tourism;
  • Encourage public transport usage;
  • Reduce air pollution and noise pollution;
  • Changing the cultural persecution of public transport;
  • Encourage the much-needed expansion of the tram fleet.

We Support:

  • Extending the Free Tram Zone;
  • Dynamic pricing of all public transport;
  • Free public transport for all students;
  • Free public transport for seniors.

Extending the zone is needed to change the public’s opinion on public transport – to make public transport the best way to travel in and around the CBD. Every step towards encouraging public transport use is a step towards addressing global warming, oil depletion, forced car ownership and air pollution.

Current Free Tram Zone  

Currently the Free Tram Zone goes forms a mostly rectangle route from Flinders street, up Spring street across La Trobe Street including the Queens Victoria Market at to Victoria Street/Peel Street intersection and the Harbour Esplanade. This route includes St Vincent’s Hospital, Parliament, the State Library, Marvel Stadium and Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. This route excludes Melbourne’s major hospitals, sporting precincts, universities and other tourist attractions.

Proposed Extension

The proposal extension would see the following facilitates included:

  • Royal Children’s Hospital
  • Shrine of Remembrance
  • The National Gallery Victoria
  • The Alfred Hospital
  • Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
  • The Melbourne Cricket Ground
  • Melbourne & Olympic Park
  • RMIT University
  • University of Melbourne
  • Multiple businesses.

Geographically it would see the following routes included:

  • Wellington Parade to Powlett Street, East Melbourne
  • Swanston Street to Elgin Street, Carlton
  • Royal Parade to College Crescent, Carlton
  • Flemington Road to Abbotsford Street, North Melbourne
  • St Kilda Road to Commercial Road, Prahran

Global Examples:

Other countries or states have implemented free trams, free buses or free public transport for users. Some have limited this to residents and others for all passengers. We believe that the increasing shift towards free public transport is a clear sign that free public transport is a plausible option. Below is a list of some of the free services you can find globally.


  • Victoria:
    • Since 1994 – free tram around city centre
    • Since 2015 – Melbourne city centre including Docklands and Victoria Market
  • South Australia:
    • Glenelg tram between Brighton Road and Jetty Road, Glenelg
    • Tram routes within city centre to Adelaide Festival Centre and Adelaide Entertainment Centre
  • New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania and Western Australia all run free bus or train trips in certain areas.


  • All public transport in Luxembourg;
  • Free public transport is increasing across Estonia;
  • All public transport in Châteauroux, France;
  • All public transport in Aubagne and Etoile Region, France;


  • 7th Avenue Free Fare Zone
  • Toronto, Ontario – Free Link Train.


  • Moscow Oblast + Vladimirskaya Oblast – Trains on Big Circle Railway at most times during the day;
  • Game Days all S-bahn trains and metro is free in Moscow, Saint Peterburg, Kazan, Samara, Ekaterinburg are free. In Volgograd the trams are free as well.

United States

Free Tram, Light Rail, Streetcar or Trolley Services across the US include:

  • Baltimore, Maryland – Charm City Circulator;
  • Bennington, Vermont – Green Mountain Express Emerald Line;
  • Boston – Silver Line from Airport to South Station.
  • Buffalo, New York – MetroRail;
  • Charlottesville, Virgina – Free motorized trolley link between university and downtown area;
  • Dallas, Texas – Heritage Trolley & Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
  • Denver’s FreeMallRide and FreeMetroRide;
  • Kansas City, Missouri – KC Streetcar.
  • Miami, Florida – Miami MeroMover;
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin – The Hop Streetcar.
  • New York City, New York:
    • Staten Island Railway
    • Staten Island Ferry
    • Airtrain
  • Orlando Florid – Lynx Lymmo, downtown circulator;
  • Pitsburgh Pennslyvania – Light Rail within downtown region;
  • Portland, Oregon – From 1975 to 2012;
  • Salt Lake City, Utah – Free Fare Zone (Bus & Light Rail);
  • Savannah, Georgia – Express Shuttle, River Street Street Car;
  • Tacoma, Washington – Tacome Link until review in 2022;

United Kingdom:

  • Machester, England – MetroShuttle;
  • Ipswich – free circular shuttle bus;
  • Heathrow Express & TFL Rail around Heathrow Airport;
  • Sheffield & Rotherham, South Yorkshire circular town centre route;
  • West Yorkshire Metro free services branded FreeTownBus or FreeCityBus.
  • Free bus pass for older person’s;
  • Free public transport for people with disabilities;
  • Wales: TrawsCymru bus services free nationally on weekends.

Reported Benefits:


Luxembourg public transport is free across the entire country and is paid for through taxes instead. They report benefits including:

  • decreased road congestion;
  • easier parking;
  • fewer traffic accidents;
  • increased public access (especially the poor and low waged);
  • social benefits for businesses and those looking for work; and
  • commercial benefits.

The most significant benefit reported by European countries is a environmental and public health as it reduces air pollution, noise pollution and has the ability to discourage personal cars to assist in mitigating global warming and oil depletion.

The Head of Public Relations of Estonia’s economic affairs and communications ministry, Ramus Ruuda, stated in an interview with euro news that the benefits are:

  • Improving the health of the elderly by getting them more activity;
  • Changing the mindset of people, especially those of regional communities;
  • Increase in passengers (Since 2018-2019 an additional 2 million rides were taken);
  • A survey showed a decrease in car usage from 46% in 2018 to 38% in 2019;
  • Increased reliance by young people.

Overall, it appears that the people of Estonia and Luxembourg say free public transport is worth it.

Covering the Cost:

Dunkirk, France has a population of 200,000 and has made bus free for all passengers including visitors. Companies with more than 11 employees pay a public transport tax to cover the cost. As a result, the benefit of implementation has seen an expansion of their bus fleet from 100 to 140 buses and ridership is up from 50 to 85%.

Similarly, in Estonia and Luxemburg, the cost of running free public transport comes from taxes. It is argued that the decreased road usage means that they do not need to be repaired as often, thus allowing some funds to be moved to public transport.

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