Transportation And Public Transport In Australia: Explained


Students want to know about transportation options in Australia, including how to use the public transportation system.


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


The country offers extensive modes of transportation, from trains, bicycles, buses, and taxis to planes and trains.


In this post, we will discuss the most common Australian transportation in detail, including public transport in Australia, the cost, how to use it, apps, transport cards, and more.



The Most Common Transportation in Australia, Including Public Transport:



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 a list of a few Australian cities that offer bike share schemes:



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



2. Buses and Coaches



Buses are one of the most common and economical means of transport for international students in Australia. Most of these services operate from a reusable smart card system, or you can use your credit or debit card. Still, in some regional towns and cities, you can purchase tickets directly from the bus drivers. 


Depending on the destination, you can also choose long-distance coach travel. It is another inexpensive option than train travel. Travel by coach is comfortable as most 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:




3. The Rail System in Australia



Australia's subways and train system connect to every part of the country. Australia's extensive rail network comprises more than 33,919 km of tracks. It is one of the country's most accessible and convenient modes of transport.


Popular rail service providers are:




4. Taxis and Uber Services



For a comfortable long journey, the taxi is an excellent choice. 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 smartphone applications to calculate fares and book a taxi.


All in all, taxis can be an expensive and inconvenient option. 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 starts 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 more 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%).



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. 


However, travel between the same destinations by road. It will take 40 hours to 14 days, depending on the multiple stopovers you make while travelling. The four major airlines in Australia are:





Public Transport Websites & Smartphone Apps


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


Here is the list of public transport websites in each state and territory:



Most Australian transit authorities provide smartphone apps that help travel around cities using public transport. The apps enable access services to find the nearest bus stops, estimate arrival time and plan your trip from anywhere and wherever you want.


Reusable Smart Card System


Smart Card technology is an excellent alternative to cash transactions, especially regarding public Australian transport fare collection. It offers more efficient transport services to commuters and helps them avoid long ticket queues.


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 systems 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. Also, some states in Australia allow you to use your debit or credit card for commuting, as you would with one of these rechargeable smart cards.


Where To Purchase The Smart Cards


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


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



Advantages of Reusable Public Transport Cards



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


  • Pre-payment: This is one of the most significant benefits of using a smart card in Australia. Recharging your card or prepaying before your journey makes it easy to travel around without standing in long queues to buy tickets. Also, paying for your trip in advance is cheaper 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. Automatic top-ups will only occur if you have permitted the transit authority during the sign-up process. Suppose you decide not to activate the automated top-up service. In that case, you can always pay over the counter at different locations.


  • Offers and DiscountsUsing an Australian public transport card can provide 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 piers, and busses. Using smart cards helps you to save time and avoid ticket booths.


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



Transport Concessions For International Students


The Australian 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 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 senior school student in Northern Territory, you can 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 for 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 to contact your education provider directly 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, full-time international students can receive road transport 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 of transport concessions after presenting their formal student identification cards. You can find more details on fares and other conditions on the Adelaide Metro website.




Tasmania (TAS)


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




Queensland (QLD)


You are entitled to transport concessions if you study a full-time course at an educational institution in Queensland. Centrelink for Abstudy, Austudy, or Youth Allowance must approve the course you're studying.


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



Victoria (VIC)


If you have refugee status, came 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 for full details about public transport Victoria services. Also, you can check out the Study Melbourne website for exact information 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 the Australian 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 see buses, trains, or other modes of transportation too full of 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 them highly safe for commuters. 


You will also see security guards at terminals and stations, ensuring safety at all times. 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 per your convenience and budget and travel without 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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