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Public transport in Australia offers four main options: train, bus, ferry and light rail (also known as trams), and these modes of transportation will vary from city to city.

Most of the major cities now use electronic or pre-paid cards instead of paper tickets.  The catch is that each city uses a different card for their public transport systems.

Here is a guide to the public transport networks in each capital city in Australia:

Brisbane - Translink Go Card; used on trains, trams, buses and ferries

Melbourne - myki; used on trains, trams and buses

Sydney – Opal Card; used on trains, trams, buses and ferries

Adelaide – Metro Card; used on trains, trams and buses

Perth – SmartRider; used on trains, trams and buses

Hobart - Metro Greencard; used on buses

Canberra - MyWay; used on buses

Darwin – Tap & Ride Card; used on buses

Depending on which city you arrive in when you reach Australia, you may be able to purchase a card at a ticket window at the Domestic or International airport train stations.  Depending on the city, you can also buy the cards at vending machines, convenience stores, such as 7-Eleven, newsagents, bus stations, train stations, ferry piers, pharmacies and supermarkets.
prepaid transport card

There are plenty of good reasons to invest in a prepaid transport card.  Paper tickets are in decline, and drivers and ticket booth operators are discouraging the exchange of cash.  Here are some other reasons to grab a card soon after arriving in Australia:

  • Discounts and offers – Public transport cards offer a range of benefits including capped fares on weekends, discounted fares during off-peak travel times, free travel in a week after taking a specified number of journeys and the ability to use the same card across all methods of public transport.
  • Prepayment – Being able to prepay for your public transport needs is convenient because you don’t have to fumble in your wallet or purse looking for coins and you don’t have to have the right change available. It is also cheaper to prepay instead of paying for each journey.
  • Online account management – You can manage your public transport card account online and see your current balance as well as view all journeys made and which method of transportation was used.
  • More convenient – When you use your public transport card, you ‘tap on’ and ‘tap off’ at the designated card readers at train stations, buses, light rail stops and ferry wharves. You don’t have to try and find a ticket booth and you don’t have to waste time. If you’re running late, you pull out your card and ‘tap on’!
  • Automatic top-up – When your card balance goes lower than a specified amount (usually $5 for children or $10 for adults), the transit authority will automatically top it up via your debit card or credit card so that you can always use public transport. Of course, during the sign-up process, you need to provide permission for this function. You may also choose not to have automatic top-up and pay over the counter at various locations.

Australia’s public transport systems are very well maintained and provide safe, clean services for customers. The systems are heavily regulated to ensure customers can rely on a high standard of facilities. In Australia, it wouldn’t be possible to see a train overloaded with passengers hanging out the windows or sitting on the roof, such as the case in other countries.

The trains, buses, trams and ferries are modern and comfortable (mostly air-conditioned).  The stations and terminals are looked after and monitored with 24-hour CCTV. Uniformed and plain-clothed security guards patrol stations and terminals and at times, also ride on the vehicles to ensure the safety of all.

Hygiene is essential and public transport operators in Australia must follow strict hygiene measures to ensure the health and safety of passengers at all times.  This includes cleaning and sanitising all surfaces regularly.  Passengers are advised to practice good hygiene and maintain physical distancing whenever possible when using public transport to limit the spread of disease.

Most transit authorities in Australia offer a smartphone app to help you find your way around the city using public transport. The apps allow you to access service updates (cancelled, rescheduled or late services), find out estimated arrival times, learn where to find your closest bus stop, train station, pier or light rail stop, and plan your journey from wherever you are to wherever you need to go.
Public transport will be less available, less frequent, or more expensive at various times throughout the year.  Usually, on public holidays, public transport systems operate on a Saturday or Sunday timetable. You can find this information at the authority’s website for the city you are in or via their smartphone app.
taxis and rideshare options

Cabs are called taxis in Australia, and the Australian taxi network is comprehensive.  You’ll find a taxi at all typical locations such as airports, hotels, train stations, city centres, shopping centres, hospitals and most tourist destinations.

You can catch a taxi simply by waving it down, lining up in a taxi rank or by calling ahead to pre-book a taxi to pick you up from a designated location.

It’s important for overseas visitors to note that in Australia, taxi fares are not negotiable and are not paid for upfront.  The fee on the meter at the end of the trip must be paid in full.

There are many rideshare options available in Australia, such as Uber, Ola and DiDi.  Rideshare services usually require a customer to sign up and register before using their services.  You will usually need to use an app on your smartphone to organise your trip.  The fare is automatically deducted from the bank account nominated at the time of signing up.



Like most countries, public transport is the cheapest option for getting around; however, at times, it may be quicker and more convenient to catch a taxi or rideshare option.

Whatever your choice of transport, be assured that in Australia it is designed to be efficient, comfortable and safe. 

If travelling by train, bus, ferry or tram be sure to purchase your pre-paid card soon after arriving in Australia so that you can take advantage of every possible discount.