Transportation in Australia Explained: A Complete Guide



When it comes to transportation, Australia offers many great options. Whether you want to get around town on weekends or just want to travel, it is important to know how the transport system works in Australia.


The country offers extensive modes of transportations, ranging from trains, bicycles, buses, taxis to planes and trains. In this post, we will talk about Australian transportation in detail.


1. Common Modes of Transport in Australia:



1.1 Cycling/Biking



Most international students spend between $700 - $ 1500 per year on transport. This makes getting a bicycle an economical alternative. Students can either purchase a bike or even rent it. Here is the list of a few Australian cities that offer bike share schemes.



However, it is obligatory for a cyclist to wear a helmet, lights on the front and back of the bicycle, and a good lock to protect the bicycle from theft. Also, the cyclist needs to follow the road rules.



1.2 Buses and Coach



Buses are one of the most common and economical means of transport for international students in Australia. Most of these services can be easily operated from a reusable smart card system, but in some regional towns and cities, you can purchase tickets from the bus drivers directly.


Depending on the destination, you can also choose long-distance coach travel. This is another inexpensive option than train travel. Travel by coach is comfortable as most of the vehicles have onboard entertainment and restrooms. Some of the newer coaches even have Wifi and USB charger points.


To book a bus or a coach, you can visit websites like:



1.3 The Rail System in Australia



Subways and trains system in Australia connects to every part of the country. The large rail network in Australia comprises of more than 33,919 km of tracks. It is one of the easiest and convenient modes of transport in the country.


Popular rail service providers are:




1.4 Taxis and Uber Services



For a comfortable long journey, the taxi is an excellent choice. Just like in most countries, taxis can be easily seen on the roadside. You can hire it by waving it down on the roadside. It is one of the best methods to move quickly around the city. Additionally, most cab companies in Australia have their own smartphone applications to calculate fares and book a taxi.

All in all, taxis can be an expensive and inconvenient option. So if possible, before taking a cab, use the Sydney public transport app to know the estimated price for your journey. Also, overseas visitors should keep in mind that taxi fares in Australia are non-negotiable. You have to pay the exact amount reflected on the meter. 


Usually, taxis cost you more after 10 pm and the shift of drivers start at 3 PM and 3 am in most cities. If you want to book taxis to travel within Australia, then here are some taxi service providers that may help:



Alternatively, ride-sharing services such as Uber could be a much reliable and cheaper option. According to the Roy Morgan research, 22.9% of Australians (aged 14 and above) prefer an Uber compared with taxis (21.8%).



1.5 Airlines



Air travel covers the vast distances between the major cities in Australia, which ultimately saves time. For example, if you want to travel between Sydney and Perth, it will take approximately 5 hours. But if you travel between the same destinations by road, it will take 40 hours to 14 days, depending on the multiple stopovers you make while traveling. The 4 major airlines in Australia are:




2. Public Transport Websites & Smartphone Apps


Regardless of where you live in Australia, each territory has its own public transport website. You can check the transport websites of the state you reside in and explore the different public transport systems. Here is the list of public transport websites in each state and territory.



Furthermore, most Australian transit authorities provide smartphone applications that help you travel around cities using public transport. The app enables you to access services like (reschedule, cancel, or avail late services), find out nearest bus stops, estimated arrival time, and plan your trip from anywhere and wherever you want to go.



3. Reusable Smart Card System


Smart Card technology is an excellent alternative to cash transactions, especially when it comes to the public Australia transport fare collection. It offers more efficient transport services to commuters and helps them to avoid long queues for tickets.


Also, the reusable smart card system makes it more convenient for transport service providers in Australia to process fare transactions.

Here are the capital cities in Australia that have implemented different reusable smart card system for their public transport services:


  • Sydney: Opal Card ticketing system, used on buses, trains, ferries, and trams.

  • Brisbane: Go Card electronic ticket, used on buses, trains, ferries, and trams. 

  • Adelaide: MetroCARD electronic smart card, used on buses, trams, and trains.

  • Melbourne: Myki ticket, used to travel on trams, buses, and trains in Australia.

  • Canberra: MyWay ticketing system, used on light rail and buses.

  • Perth: SmartRider ticketing system, used on buses, trains, and ferries.

  • Darwin: Tap and Ride Card, used on buses.

  • Hobart: Greencard smart technology used on buses. 

Note: To get more information on public transport smart cards, visit the smart card websites of each city.



4. Where To Purchase The Smart Cards

When you reach Australia, you can buy the smart cards at the international or domestic airport or train stations, depending on the city where you arrive.


You can also get the cards in different cities at the ferry wharves, bus stations, newsagents, supermarkets, 7-Eleven stores, convenience stores, vending machines, and pharmacies.



5. Advantages of Reusable Public Transport Cards


  • Online Account Management: You can easily manage your smart card online. Through your online account, you can view all your journeys, check your current balance, and see which mode of transportation you used.


  • Prepayment: This is one of the most significant benefits of using a smart card in Australia. Recharging your card or prepaying before you start your journey, makes it easy to travel around without having to stand in long queues for tickets and fumbling in your wallet looking for coins. Also, it is cheaper to pay for your journey in advance rather than paying for each time you travel.


  • Automatic Top-up: If the balance on your account is running low, the transit authority will instantly recharge your account through your credit card or debit card so that you can travel without any inconvenience. Automatic top-ups will only take place if you have permitted the transit authority during the sign-up process. If you decide not to avail the automated top-up service, you can always pay over the counter at different locations.


  • Offers and Discounts: Using Australia public transport card can provide you with several benefits, including discounted fares during off-peak travel hours, capped fares on weekends, and free travel when you have taken a specified number of journeys. You also get to use the same smart card on different modes of road transport in Australia.


  • More Convenient: Smart cards are extremely easy to use, all you have to do is “tap on” and tap off” on card readers, placed at light rail stops, train stations, ferry wharves, and busses. Using smart cards helps you to save time and avoid ticket booths. If you are running late, you simply have to take out your card and tap on card readers.


Note: When you first reach Australia, you might have to use cash before getting a smart card. So make sure you are using smaller denominations like lower value notes or coins, as ticket booth operators or drivers are not pleased to take large notes.



6. Transport Concessions For International Students


The Australia transport authority also provides concessions to international students in each territory and state. Let us have a look at them:



Australian Capital Territory (ACT) 


The ACT offers transport concessions to international students when they provide their official student identification card or when they successfully apply for a student concession card.


To get detailed information about the concession cards offered by the ACT government, visit the Transport Canberra website.


Northern Territory (NT) 

If you are a primary school, middle school, or a senior school student in Northern Territory, you are allowed to travel for free if you present a valid student card.


However, VET and university students only have access to unlimited travel for three hours after presenting a genuine student card and paying $1.00 on any scheduled bus service. You can get more information on this at NT’s public transport website.



New South Wales (NSW)

International students in NSW are usually not offered student concessions. But, a few students with fully-funded scholarships provided by the Australian government can get transport concessions.


It would be best if you directly get in touch with your education provider to get more information. You can also visit NSW transport to receive further details on getting around New South Wales and public transport in Sydney.



Western Australia (WA)

In Western Australia, international students who study full-time are entitled to road transport in Australia concessions. Within the metropolitan area of Perth, through Transperth public transport services, students can travel via train, bus or ferry network.


Visit the Transperth website for more information about concession passes.



South Australia (SA)

All international students in South Australia can avail transport concessions after presenting their formal student identification cards. You can find more details on fares and other conditions at the Adelaide Metro website.



Tasmania (TAS)

Local students and international students living in Tasmania qualify for the same travel concessions. Visit the Tasmanian Government’s Transport Discounts & Concessions website to view each concession in detail.



Queensland (QLD)

You are entitled to transport concessions if you are studying a full-time course at an educational institution in Queensland. The course you are studying should be approved by Centrelink for Abstudy, Austudy, or Youth Allowance purposes.


You can visit the Translink website to get full information on transport fares in Queensland.



Victoria (VIC)

If you have refugee status, have come to Australia for an international exchange program, or have obtained an Australian Development Scholarship, you are eligible for a concession card in Victoria.


You can talk to your education provider to get full details about public transport Victoria services. Also, you can check out the Study Melbourne website for exact details about road transport in Australia.



7. Transportation Services in Australia During Public Holidays
Public transport in Australia is less frequent, less available, or more expensive at different times all year round. On most public holidays, public transportation services are available on a Saturday or a Sunday based on transport in Australia timeline.


You can get more information regarding this at the transit authority’s official website for the city you are living in. You can also find the details on their smartphone application.



8. Hygiene and Safety on Public Transport


Public transport systems in Australia offer clean, safe, and well-maintained services to commuters. These services are highly monitored to ensure that people receive the best public transport in Australia with top-notch facilities.


In Australia, you will never witness a sight where buses, trains in Australia, or other modes of transportation are overloaded with passengers.


You will find that buses, trains, and trams in Australia have a comfortable and modern design with air conditioning. Besides, terminals and stations are under 24-hour surveillance, making it extremely safe for commuters.


You will also see security guards at terminals and stations, ensuring safety at all times. All in all, the Australian government provides the best public transport in Australia, mainly designed to be convenient, efficient, and safe. 


Australia offers a wide range of transport options to choose from. You can choose one as per your convenience, budget and travel without any hassle.


Useful Topics to Explore:

⇒ Student Accommodation (Housing) Options
⇒ How to get PR in Australia for Students
⇒ Driving in Australia as an International Student
⇒ The Ultimate Guide to Australian Visas
⇒ How to Change Your Course or Institution
⇒ Top Aussie Slang Words (Accent)

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