Getting Around in Brisbane
Getting around in Brisbane is relatively straightforward. The city centre is compact, which makes it possible to walk and cycle around from point to point, while areas further afield are served by public transport.
Trains, buses and the popular CityCat ferry are the main modes of transportation for commuters travelling to the city from the surrounding suburbs each day.
Due to the rapid population growth in Brisbane, the city is continually undergoing major infrastructure expansion. This means that roads often get very congested, especially during peak hours. Furthermore, finding parking in the city centre can be difficult and expensive.
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. The TransLink system allows free transfers to be made between each of the three modes of transport, within certain time and zone limits. Tickets are only valid for travel in selected zones.
For regular commuters, the Go Card is the most cost-effective and convenient option. This contactless smart card allows passengers to top up funds. Buying a Go Card not only eliminates the hassle of figuring out which zones one will be travelling through, 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 living in Brisbane will find that the areas in the inner city are well served by buses. Generally, buses arrive every 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the route. Popular routes within the inner city tend to be serviced more regularly. Bus services to Brisbane’s outlying suburbs tend to be less frequent or have reduced operating hours.
Expats should note that some bus services will not sell tickets on board, especially during peak hours. Therefore, it is best to pre-purchase tickets or use a Go Card.
Brisbane also has a large number of express buses, which do not stop at every stop along the route. There are also some all-night buses which operate on selected routes on a Friday and Saturday night. These are called NightLink services.
Trains are a quick and convenient way to travel in the city. Most train services in Brisbane run from one end of the suburbs and through the city centre. All trains in Brisbane service Roma Street, Central, Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills regardless of the final destination. Intercity rail services can be used to travel to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
Trains in Brisbane run every 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the route and the time of day. Some services run later on Friday and Saturday nights and most services finish early on Sundays.
While trains are the fastest way to get around the city, there are parts of Brisbane that are not sufficiently covered by the city’s rail network.
The ferries which dot the river and have become iconic of transportation in Brisbane are called CityFerries and CityCats.
CityCats are high-speed catamarans while CityFerries are more traditional ferries that operate on shorter routes with more regular stops. Ferries in Brisbane generally arrive every 10 to 15 minutes. So while they 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 Brisbane and can go anywhere, but they are expensive. Two of the major taxi companies operating in Brisbane are Yellow Cabs and Black and White Cabs.
It is possible to hail a cab when the roof light is on but it is best to book ahead. All taxis in Brisbane are fitted with GPS units and accept cash, credit and debit cards.
If travelling late at night it is best to catch a cab from a designated taxi rank. These ranks are usually closely monitored by security and have ushers to assist passengers travelling at night.
Driving in Brisbane
Driving in Brisbane is not easy. Many of the roads in Brisbane's city centre are one-way, making driving in the city quite frustrating for new arrivals. However, the roads and driving infrastructure in Brisbane are of an excellent standard and signage is very clear.
There is very little parking available in Brisbane’s city centre. It is also worth noting that many of the roads become clearways at 4pm, so any car parked on the side of the road after this time will be fined and/or towed. Therefore, drivers should always check for signs or just go for the safe option and opt to park at a parking station.
For those travelling around the suburbs, driving is not so difficult except during peak hours. At peak times traffic is terrible and the average 15-minute journey can take up to an hour.
There are also a number of toll roads in and around Brisbane.
Walking and cycling in Brisbane
Brisbane is cyclist-friendly city and, thanks to the many cycle paths around the city, getting around by bicycle is safe and easy.
Brisbane City Council has also implemented a bike-sharing scheme called CityCycle, which offers bicycles for hire and different stations around the city. For a reasonable hiring price, commuters can rent bicycles to travel around the city centre. However, cyclists will need to provide their own helmet; riding without a helmet is illegal and can result in a hefty fine.
Brisbane is a great city for walking around in and expats will find that walking from point A to B is simple, especially in the city centre.