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Brisbane : Getting round on a budget

January 23, 20175 minute read
getting around Brisbane

Getting around Brisbane is not difficult, especially if you are staying on or near to a public transport route. Hiring a car or getting around by Uber or taxis is also an option although a little heavier on the pocket. On a recent visit to Brisbane, this writer made a point of trying out and using almost exclusively, the public transport system and found that (especially with the recently reduced fares) it’s a very viable option for travellers to most parts of the city and beyond.

Much of the Public transport in and around Brisbane comes under either Translink or the Brisbane City Council which run well integrated services allowing easy transport around the city and surroundings. The service area covers Greater Brisbane, including Ipswich, as well as the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. This means to and from places like the Gold Coast Airport, or even a trip up to Nambour.

Translink oversees the operations of:

  • buses across the entire network
  • trains in South East Queensland
  • ferries in Brisbane and some ferries in Moreton Bay, and
  • trams—known as the G:link—on the Gold Coast.

When travelling with TransLink, you can use a paper ticket for a single journey, but the most cost efficient way to travel is to purchase a Go card, which offers significant savings (e.g. a peak hour single zone fare that costs AU$4.60, would cost only AU$3.20 with a Go Card. The same ticket, off peak would cost $2.65 with the Go Card.) The recent reduction in the number of zones has also simplified the process of planning your journey and calculating the fare.

You can purchase and register a Go Card online to use on any Translink bus / City Cat / Train. Registering your card/cards will also allow you to keep a tally of your spending. Auto uploads may be done with an Australian Credit Card, manual uploads may be made at train stations and various convenience stores in the coverage area.

You can also download the Translink app, which added to the other information like routes and timetables, will also let you know when your bus will reach your stop. You can also check routes and timetables online to help you plan your journey.

Using your Go Card

Use your Go Card to travel seamlessly across the Public transport network. Translink buses, the CityGlider, (a high frequency pre-paid bus service that operates during the day) as well as the CityCat, City Ferries and across the train network. This means that you can change across the services within a given time frame to enjoy a single fare. For example: If you are travelling to the Gold Coast Airport, you will need to catch the connecting 760 bus just outside the station. You must tap on and off for the train and again for the bus, making it count as a single trip. This is important, especially if you start your journey in the cheaper, off peak period.

Remember to:

  • Register your card so that you can see the breakdown of charges.
  • Tap on and off at the beginning and end of the journey, the point is just inside the entry/exit of the bus/ferry etc, and generally either on the station platform or at the main station entrance for larger stations.

Free Services

The Brisbane Free bus service offers two City Loops, one clockwise, the other anti-clockwise, as well as a Spring Hill Loop. The routes are clearly marked on the accompanying map and cover many of the accommodation and interesting spots in both areas. Click on the map to enlarge it.

Look for the yellow signposted bus stops, and the distinctive yellow buses. Check the timetable and get information on other bus services HERE.

The Brisbane River is a great way to travel, and alongside the ticketed CityCat and cross river CityFerries, there is a free CityHopper service, which runs between North Quay in the city and Sydney Street in New Farm, stopping at the regular stops on the way. You’ll recognise it by the red paint and a grey kangaroo hopping along the side. Just hop on and off at the stops as you require.



If you’d like to get around more quickly, but have flexibility about exactly where you go, you can try the CityCycle bike hire. Some bikes also have a courtesy helmet, which you can use if you don’t have your own. It’s not expensive – casual users can join from $2 for a 24 hour pass, or if you need a longer time, a monthly pass will cost between $3-5 per month.

Once you’ve decided what type of ride you’ll need, you can sign up for CityCycles. Once you’ve signed up, you can choose whether to use the supplied card or use your Translink Card.


# Brisbane, Public Transport
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