Getting around in Brisbane is relatively straightforward. The city centre is compact, which makes walking and cycling easy, while areas further afield are served by extensive public transport networks.
Trains, buses and the popular CityCat ferry are the main modes of transport for commuters travelling to the city each day.
Brisbane’s rapid population growth has led to the expansion of infrastructure and road networks, but the city still suffers from severe road congestion, particularly at peak hours. Another deterrent for drivers is the expensive (and shortage of) parking in the city centre.
Public transport in Brisbane
There are three main modes of public transport in Brisbane, namely trains, buses and ferries. These are all linked through an integrated ticketing system called TransLink. Regular commuters often invest in the contactless and rechargeable ‘Go Card’. Buying a Go Card not only eliminates the hassle of purchasing tickets for each trip but also saves money in the long run.
The bus network in Brisbane is large and comprehensive. All buses have a digital display on the front telling commuters their route number and final destinations. Expats will find that there are many bus routes, but popular stops in the inner city tend to be serviced more regularly than those in the suburbs. There are a handful of free bus services in and around the city centre. Stops serviced by free buses will have either red or yellow signs.
Trains are a quick and convenient way to travel and cover most of the suburbs and of course the inner city. Intercity rail services can be used to commute to other major destinations, such as the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. While trains are a fast way to get around, there are parts of Brisbane that aren’t covered by the rail network.
The iconic ferries that dot the river in Brisbane are called CityFerries and CityCats. There is also a free ferry service connecting the city with South Bank known as the CityHopper. While these do not cover as much ground as the city’s bus and rail networks, they do provide a fast and unique way to travel around Brisbane.
Taxis in Brisbane
Taxis are readily available throughout the city, but they are pricey so we don’t recommend using these regularly. Taxi fares for cabs hailed on the street and at taxi ranks are regulated by the government, while prebooked taxi fares aren't subject to these restrictions. That said, it is still best to book ahead of time to ensure availability. Major taxi companies operating in Brisbane include Yellow Cabs and Black and White Cabs. Ride-hailing applications such as Uber and Lyft are also available.
Driving in Brisbane
Driving in Brisbane can be tricky. Many new arrivals are often confused and frustrated by the one-way roads and the lack of parking in the city centre. That said, the city generally has well-maintained roads and clear signage. Driving around the suburbs is often easier than in the city except during peak hours.
Walking and cycling in Brisbane
Brisbane has many cycle paths around the city, making travel by bicycle safe and easy. Brisbane City Council has recently implemented a new e-mobility programme. E-bikes and e-scooters are now widely available, and riders need only register on the Neuron or Beam app to use these facilities. Expats should bring a helmet, as riding without one can result in a hefty fine.
Expats will also find that walking from point A to B in Brisbane is simple and enjoyable, especially in the city centre.
►For information on the housing market in the city, take a look at Accommodation in Brisbane
"We haven’t really explored public transport as we own two cars. The train network isn’t as extensive as it is in the UK but then distances are much greater so people tend to fly between cities." Karen is an expat from Britain. Read about her experiences in Brisbane here.
Are you an expat living in Brisbane?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Brisbane. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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