Transport in Brisbane

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Brisbane City Train lines.
A CityCat ferry on the Brisbane River

Transport in Brisbane, the capital and largest city of Queensland, Australia, is provided by road, rail, river and bay ferries, footpaths, bikepaths, sea and air.

Transport around Brisbane is managed by both the Brisbane City Council and the Government of Queensland, which owns Queensland Rail. Public commuter rail transport is by Citytrain, an electric train system operated by Queensland Rail. Road transport is via the standard residential street network managed by Brisbane City Council and the connecting arterial road network which is managed by Queensland Main Roads. The public bus transport system is operated by the Brisbane City Council, and uses the road network as well as dedicated bus lanes and busways. Public transport on and across the Brisbane River is provided by the Cityferry (inner city) and CityCat services run by the Brisbane City Council.

Transport in and out of Brisbane is managed by both public and private enterprises. Queensland Rail manages a freight and passenger service inter-city and interstate. Queensland Main Roads manages the Queensland road network. Port of Brisbane is a private company that provides bulk sea freighter facilities. Brisbane Airport Corporation Limited manages the Brisbane Airport which has both domestic and international terminals with both freight and passenger services.

Transport information[edit]

Transport information can be obtained from TransLink, by visiting the Transit window of the Queen Street Mall information centre, or the Transport Information Centre just off King George Square. Brisbane City Council also has an interactive mapping feature on their website showing cycle routes and bikeways.


Brisbane is constructing a number of cycle routes and dedicated, off-road bikeways. The South-East Bikeway is a bicycle only bikeway running adjacent to the South East Freeway. It empties onto the Goodwill Bridge at South Bank, which in turn, connects with the Bicentennial Bikeway underneath the Riverside Expressway. The Bicentennial Bikeway continues along the Brisbane River to Toowong.

A limited number of buses used to carry cycle racks on the front but this service is no longer available. Bicycles are easy to transport on the CityCats, and many stops have bicycle racks. During peak hour, bicycles on Queensland Rail (QR) Citytrains are restricted to counter-peak-flow services (i.e. You have to be travelling away from the city in the morning, and to the city in the afternoon). Exceptions to this are relatively uncommon such as fold up bicycles fitting within certain dimensions. Riding a bicycle on QR property is always forbidden.

A bike station in the King George Square busway station offers many amenities including showers and locker rooms for members.[1] Subscriptions for a Velib style community bike hire scheme called citycycle by JCDecaux for Brisbane started on 1 September 2010 with bikes available from 1 October 2010 at 150 stations from the University of Queensland to Teneriffe.[2]

Public transport[edit]

Brisbane's public transport system is provided by rail, buses, ferries and taxis. A large tram system closed in 1969, to be replaced by buses. A smaller trolley-bus system closed at the same time.

TransLink is a Queensland Government agency managing planning, co-ordination, integrated ticketing and zoning for public transport services covering Brisbane and South East Queensland. public transport services in the South-East Queensland region. Under the TransLink system, passengers pay common fares on all modes of public transport. TransLink tickets are accepted on both government- and privately owned buses, trains, and ferries. In 2007, Translink introduced a smartcard-based ticketing system, the go card. Paper tickets are still available, but travelling using the Go Card costs at least 30% less than buying a paper ticket.

The rail services are operated by Citytrain, a division of Queensland Rail. The bus system, and the high-speed CityCat as well as the cross-river Cityferry are operated by Brisbane Transport, a business arm of the Brisbane City Council. Buses that serve the regional areas outside the Brisbane boundaries are operated by private-sector companies contracted by the State Government.

After some years of decline, Brisbane's public transport system is gradually being revitalised, with significant investment in railway station upgrades, busways, bus tunnels and new buses. However, patronage remains the lowest of all Australian capital cities, a far cry from public transport's heyday in the 1940s, when the tram system alone carried 160 million annually. By comparison, Brisbane's publicly owned bus service carried 53 million passengers in 2005, although Brisbane's population has doubled since the 1940s. This figure climbed to 77 million in 2010.[3]

The CBD serves as the central hub for all public transport services, with Queen Street bus station for buses, Roma Street and Central stations for trains, and North Quay for ferries. Various smaller transfer hubs, such as the Cultural Centre busway station, are located at various strategically placed points of public importance and public interest in the city, including the Queensland Cultural Centre, South Bank Parklands and shopping malls, which are usually within dense population centres. Many busway stations are co-located with train stations, allowing easy transfers. (e.g. Roma St Station, South Bank).

In December 2005, TransLink began all-night public transport services on Friday and Saturday nights, under the name of NightLink. These buses are prefixed with the letter 'N' and often carry security guards for extra safety. A limited number of lines (Beenleigh, Ipswich, Caboolture) also run trains into the early morning hours.


Main bus services in inner-city Brisbane

Brisbane City Council operates suburban and urban bus services under the Translink integrated public transport scheme. Translink is responsible for all timetabling and ticketing on Brisbane City Council buses, which do not bear the Translink colours (instead painted in Brisbane Transport livery) given the cost to the state government to repaint over 1000 buses which Brisbane Transport constructs, leases back (a sell and leaseback scheme operates between the Council and State) and operates.

Buses generally operate on a 5 am to midnight timetable throughout the week with some Friday and Saturday night 24-hour services. This puts the bus network out of the reach of early morning shift workers (e.g. 2am-4am). Not all buses observe each stop. Most buses in Brisbane are 'Express' and don't observe minor stops. During peak hours, 'Rocket' buses omit most intermediate stops, while 'Bullets'(such as Browns Plains 142) don't stop until reaching their final destination. Some pre-paid buses prefixed with a 'P' don't accept cash, only pre-purchased tickets or go cards. People unfamiliar with Brisbane's bus schedules have expressed confusion as to why multiple buses pass their stop, despite hailing or wanting to depart the bus.

CityGlider is a mass transit service in operation between Newstead and West End via the CBD, with another route from Ashgrove to Stones Corner via South Bank. Citygider services are prepaid and serve a limited range of stops, running every 5 minutes in peak hours and every 10–15 minutes outside of peak hour.[4] The 'City Sights' bus is a paid hop-on, hop-off service that loops around Brisbane's landmarks, including the popular Mt Coot-tha in two hours. The 'Great Circle Line' bus routes run a large anti-clockwise (route 598) and clockwise (route 599) loop around Brisbane's outer suburbs and are used to travel between suburbs without needing to transfer buses or travel through the CBD. During Christmas a special 'Christmas Lights' service operates (tickets must be pre-purchased), and many buses have tinsel or other decorations affixed internally. Buses often provide free transport between major shopping centres (for example Westfield Carindale) and The Gabba stadium or Suncorp Stadium for sporting match events.A free 'City Loop' service operates daily in the CBD.

BUZ (Bus Upgrade Zones) are high frequency express routes pioneered by Brisbane City Council, providing services on key corridors at least every 15 minutes on any day of the week from 6am-11pm.[5] Additionally, a busway network has been constructed to provide public transport to areas outside the reach of the metropolitan train lines. Busways permit unrestricted bus travel throughout the northern, eastern, and south-eastern corridors of the city, providing road systems where only buses are permitted. Brisbane's three busways are the South East Busway, the Northern Busway and the Eastern Busway.


Main article: Railways in Brisbane

The large Citytrain urban rail network consists of seven suburban lines and covers mostly the south-west, north, and outer east sides of the city. It also provides the route for the Airtrain service between the City and Brisbane Airport (the Airtrain route, itself, is owned by a private company). While Citytrain services also cover interurban services to both coasts, the southern part of the rail network does not pass through any major suburbs or districts.

On 24 March 2010, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced in Parliament that a new 19 kilometres (12 mi) Cross River Rail tunnel connecting Salisbury to Wooloowin was under consideration.[6] The project was scrapped by the Newman government, to be replaced by the BaT Tunnel. However this project was cancelled in March 2015 by the Palaszczuk government.[7]


Main articles: CityCat and Cityferry

CityFerry and CityCat are ferry services operated on the Brisbane River by TransdevTSL Brisbane Ferries, a joint venture of Brisbane City Council and French company, Transdev. CityCat uses catamarans, while the area covered by the CityFerry service differs in that it is smaller with stops spaced closer together, and is operated with 12 monohull ferries, varying slightly in appearance from one another.

Unusually, the CityCat's busiest day is actually Sunday. Many people and visitors use it as a very inexpensive way to sightsee.


Two cab companies operate in Brisbane: Yellow Cabs (whose vehicles are painted orange), and Black and White Cabs. Both companies offer same rate service (regulated by the government) and pick up passengers from anywhere in the metropolitan and regional areas of Brisbane via bookings or permanent cab ranks. As well as standard taxis, both provide Maxi-Taxis designed to fit up to 10 people, and also have disability access, as well as luxury vehicles (Silver Service for Yellow, Business Class for Black and White). All cabs now are also fitted with GPS tracking systems for driver location and EFTPOS debit/credit card facilities.[citation needed]


Brisbane's road system was planned around large, spacious suburban areas. Dense suburbs now rely on several main road corridors that split through and between these areas and provide the only link to the CBD and other areas of Brisbane. Logan Road, Moggill Road, Old Cleveland Road and Gympie Road are but a few of these multi-lane corridors that come out of the CBD and snake through the suburbs. As a result, traffic congestion has become a major problem and it was the promise of a new underground road system, nicknamed TransApex, that helped former Lord Mayor Campbell Newman win the 2004 local government election.[citation needed]

Bypasses such as the Inner City Bypass, Clem Jones Tunnel, and the Airport Link are intended to help to circulate traffic away from the inner-city areas and main roads via limited-access roads above the ground, and tunnels below that have higher speed limits and exits to particular suburbs. Existing high speed cross-suburban motorways such as the Western Freeway, Centenary Freeway, Pacific Motorway and Gateway Motorway provide alternative routes to main roads and connect up to main highways and other arterial roads. Other tunnels are also being planned to link all the various motorways in Brisbane together as part of TransApex, but only two have been scheduled for completion within the next decade.

In total, the twisting Brisbane River is crossed by seven road bridges, a road tunnel, three railway bridges, three pedestrian bridges and a dedicated bus, cycle and pedestrian bridge. Route signage is achieved by means of a system of Metroads, consisting of the most important arterial roads in metropolitan Brisbane including most motorways, and less important State Routes. Multiple freeways connect Brisbane to other cities, including the Pacific Motorway, the Bruce Highway and the Ipswich Motorway, all of which are part of the National Highway System. Brisbane is approximately 1,000 km away from Sydney, the closest major capital city.


Etihad airliner at the International Terminal at Brisbane Airport

Brisbane Airport, owned by the Brisbane Airport Corporation Limited and located north-east of the city centre, is the biggest airport in Australia in terms of land size.[8] Brisbane Airport is the third busiest airport in the country behind Sydney and Melbourne Airports respectively. Separated into domestic and international terminals, Brisbane Airport has frequent passenger and freight flights, providing direct flights to every capital city in Australia as well as many destinations in Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East. Virgin Australia, the second largest airline in Australia, is headquartered in Brisbane, while other major airlines Qantas and Jetstar Airways both fly from Brisbane Airport.

The Airtrain provides a link between the Domestic and International Terminals at Brisbane Airport and the city, taking approximately 20 minutes to travel from Central Station to the Airport stations.

Archerfield Airport, located in Brisbane's southern suburbs, caters to general aviation. Other local airports can be found at Caboolture and Redcliffe.


Brisbane's seaport, Port of Brisbane on Fisherman Island, and Brisbane Airport from space, Landsat montage

The Port of Brisbane is on the lower reaches of the Brisbane River and on Fisherman's Island at the river's mouth; it is the 3rd most important port in Australia for value of goods.[9] Container freight, sugar, grain, coal and bulk liquids are the major exports. Most of the port facilities are less than three decades old, and some are built on reclaimed mangroves and wetlands. Historically, Brisbane's port facilities were located as far upstream as the central business district.

The economic region near the river's mouth including the port, airport and refineries is known as the Australia TradeCoast.


Historically Brisbane had a network of trolleybuses and trams, both of which were closed in 1969 in favour of an expanded bus fleet.

The Brisbane Tramways Trust experimented with providing bus services in the 1920s but these proved impractical due to mechanical unreliability and Brisbane's poor road surface quality. The first permanent bus services were introduced in 1940 as a supplement to Brisbane's tram services. In 1948 the council municipalised a number of privately run bus operators and expanded its own fleet of buses. The first tram lines to close were the Lower Edward Street to Gardens route, and the Upper Edward Street to Gregory Terrace route in 1947, the latter due to the very steep grades on that line. Diesel-engined buses initially replaced tram services on these lines, however these were replaced by Trolleybuses on 12 August 1951.

The council also intended to introduce a trolleybus service to the new University of Queensland campus at St Lucia, and purchased enough trolleybus chassis from the United Kingdom for the route. However, it was vigorously opposed by residents and the plan was abandoned. The council then found itself with surplus trolleybuses but no route on which to run them, so it decided to run the trolleybuses from Herston to Stanley Bridge, East Brisbane, commencing in 1952. Several other trolleybus routes were subsequently established in the eastern suburbs. The first of these replaced a tram route, along Cavendish Road, in 1955. Other trolleybus routes to Seven Hills and Carina did not involve tram route closures. The depot and workshops for the trolleybuses was located in Milton on Milton Road between Hale and Castlemaine Streets. The former depot was demolished to make way for the redeveloped Suncorp Stadium.

The tramway closure was notable for the speed with which it was carried out. Several hundred replacement buses were purchased from British vehicle manufacturer Leyland, at the time the largest single bus purchase in the world. The sudden acquisition of so many buses was to have repercussions in later years. Initially the Leyland Panther buses proved unreliable, and as a result, older front-engined mounted buses such as the Leyland Mk III Regals, dating from the 1940s, were retained well past their normal replacement date. Once the problems with the Panthers were ironed out, overall fleet numbers and maintenance requirements were reduced. Nevertheless, the fleet retained many older buses from the 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1975, the Whitlam Labor federal government made $80 million available to the Bjelke-Petersen National Party Queensland state government, intended to be passed on to Brisbane City Council for the purchase of new, replacement buses. The government refused to transfer the funds to the council, instead using the money to restore Parliament House and construct the Parliamentary Annexe building.[citation needed] As the replacement bus fleet aged, their maintenance requirements steadily increased, at a time when labour and spare parts costs had risen sharply. Further, as the tram replacement buses started to wear out at about the same time and needed replacement, the council was faced with another large capital outlay. Subsequently in 1976, the council was able to negotiate federal funding, enabling them to purchase Volvo B-59M buses, its first fleet acquisitions in seven years.

Patronage on the buses continued to decline, despite the best efforts of the Department of Transport hampered by rising fuel and labour costs, together with tightening budgets, leading to further cuts in services. An ageing bus fleet, some of which had been in service since the 1940s, made the service increasingly unattractive. A further hindrance was the council's own aggressively pro-car 1964 City Plan, requiring all developments to include car parking, but did not require the provision of any facilities that might advantage public transport. By the 1980s, the decline in patronage was halted, although costs continued to outstrip ticket revenue.

Future infrastructure[edit]

Brisbane's population growth has seen great strains placed upon South East Queensland's transport system. The State Government and Brisbane City Council have responded with infrastructure plans and increased funding for transportation projects, such as the South East Queensland Infrastructure Plan and Program. Most of the focus has been placed on expanding current road infrastructure, particularly tunnels and bypasses, as well as improving the public transport system.


The Queensland Government is working with Brisbane City Council to deliver the Underground Bus and Train (UBAT) project. UBAT involves a5km double decked tunnel carrying busses above trains through three new stations under the CBD and Brisbane River. Works are scheduled to be completed by 2020. The project will double the public transport capacity across the Brisbane River, providing faster and more reliable trips across the region.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ cycle2city
  2. ^ CityCycle Brisbane
  3. ^ Daniel Hurst (20 May 2011). "Bus overcrowding worse than ever". Brisbane Times (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 17 June 2011. 
  4. ^ CityGlider services. Brisbane City Council. Retrieved on 3 June 2011.
  5. ^ BUZ services. Brisbane City Council. Retrieved on 3 June 2011.
  6. ^ "New Brisbane rail tunnel under consideration". Australia Times. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  7. ^ Tony Moore (6 March 2015). "BaT tunnel scrapped as government looks for different cross river rail line". Brisbane Times (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  8. ^ "Our Company". Brisbane Airport Corporation. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  9. ^ Australian Sea Freight Australian Department of Transport and Regional Services[dead link]

External links[edit]

Media related to Transport in Brisbane at Wikimedia Commons