Buses in Melbourne, Australia, are a major form of public transport in Melbourne, with an extensive bus network. The network of 323 bus routes (including NightRider, excluding Kew School Services) is operated by a number of privately owned bus companies.
The Melbourne bus network is run by approximately 50 privately-owned bus corporations under a franchise from the State Government. There are approximately 300 routes in operation with a varying range of service frequencies. A NightRider bus system operates on Friday and Saturday nights, and a Smart Bus orbital bus network is being set up, which is intended to facilitate cross city travel, while the current network is predominantly a radial network. Most of the bus network is a part of the Metlink network and a part of the Metcard ticketing system.
The Skybus Super Shuttle is a non-Metcard based airport bus service. There are nine other bus companies serving Melbourne airport, with services to Ballarat, Bendigo, Dandenong, Frankston, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Melbourne suburbs, Shepparton and the Riverina. A daily return service from the states north—starting in Shepparton, passing through Nagambie, Seymour and Broadford—is operated by Airport Direct.
In addition, several local government councils operate free local community bus services within their local areas. In addition, there are free tourist bus services in the CBD and other tourist attractions.
While the city relies predominantly on an inner-city tram network and radial train network, the outer suburbs of Melbourne are primarily serviced by bus. Melbourne's buses also provide a local feeder to Melbourne's train and tram network. Unlike Melbourne's train and tram networks, up until the 1970s, buses in Melbourne were operated in a largely deregulated free market by private companies.
Bus use in Melbourne peaked in 1953 at 158 million passenger trips four years after the introduction of the network, but fell dramatically in subsequent years and three decades later passenger numbers had halved. In 2007, a total of 86.7 million passenger trips were recorded on Melbourne’s buses and in recent years patronage has recovered to 1970s levels.
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