Guide To Public Transport In Australia

Guide To Public Transport In Australia

Written by Pierre Noronha

Born and raised in Mumbai, Pierre Noronha thought that he was destined to be a Chartered Accountant, but all that changed when he discovered his love for writing. Taking this new found passion forward, he started working as a content writer for UniAcco.

December 11, 2020

For most international students, public transport in Australia will be a godsend. The public transport in Australia is safe, clean and reliable. Whether you want to get around town on weekends or simply travel to your university, it is important to know how public transport in Australia works. Here is a complete guide to the best public transport in Australia, to help you get started in Australia.

Most Common Modes Of Public Transport In Australia

Buses and Coach

Buses are the most common and perhaps the best public transport in Australia. International students who are on a tight budget can benefit from this economical means of transport. Bus services can be paid for by using a reusable smart card system, however, in some regional towns and cities, you may have to purchase tickets from the bus drivers directly.

Students who wish to embark on a long-distance journey can use coach travel. This is an inexpensive option compared to trains. Travel by coach is comfortable as most of them have onboard entertainment and restrooms. Some of the newer coaches even have Wifi and USB charger points.


Australia has a well-connected system of subways and trains. The railway public transport in Australia connects every part of the country, thus ensuring seamless travel across state borders. It is one of the easiest and most convenient modes of transport in the country, and boasts an impressive 33,919 km of tracks. Popular rail service providers in Australia are Indian Pacific, Tilt Train, Spirit of the Outback and The Ghan


Taxis are a great choice of public transport in Australia if you want to travel long distances. Just like in most countries, taxis can be hailed from the side of the road. Taxis are one of the best modes of transportation to move quickly around the city. Additionally, most cab companies in Australia have their own smartphone applications to calculate fares and book a taxi.

The only flip side to using taxis is that they are quite expensive. It is advisable to check the public transport app to know the estimated price for your journey before you get inside your cab. If you book a taxi after 10 pm, you are likely to be charged more. International students must bear in mind that taxi fares in Australia are non-negotiable. You have to pay whatever amount reflects on the meter. 


Air travel is the best way to save time on long journeys. For instance, if you wish to travel between Sydney and Perth, it will take you almost 5 hours. However, if you travel between the same destinations by road, it will take you more than 40 hours. The air travel network in Australia is incredibly well connected, especially to all major cities in Australia. The most popular airlines in Australia are Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Tigerair.

Travel Concessions For International Students

International students studying in Australia can enjoy concessions provided by the Australia transport authority. Here are some of them.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT) 

Australian Capital Territory offers students transport concessions if they can provide their official student identification card. Alternatively, eligible international students can apply for a student concession card on the ACT website.  

Northern Territory (Australia) 

Students enrolled in a primary school, middle school, or senior school in Northern Territory, are allowed free Public transport in Australia, provided they present a valid student card. VET and university students, however, have access to unlimited travel for three hours after presenting a genuine student card and paying $1.00 on any scheduled bus service. To check out more deals, browse the NT’s public transport website.

New South Wales (NSW)

New South Wales doesn’t usually offer concessions to international students but some students with fully-funded scholarships provided by the Australian government can get transport concessions. The best way to avail this is by contacting your education provider. You can also visit the NSW transport website to receive further details on getting around New South Wales and public transport in Sydney.

Western Australia

International students enrolled in full-time programmes are entitled to road transport in Australia concessions. Students can get great deals on travel via train, bus or ferry network. Visit the Transperth website for more information.

South Australia

All students in South Australia can get travel concessions after presenting their formal student identification cards. Holders of these concession cards are eligible for concession fares on Adelaide Metro services.

Tasmania (TAS)

Local and international students in Tasmania can avail the same travel concessions. The Tasmanian Government’s Transport Discounts & Concessions website offers a wide range of student concessions, so pick up deals that match your profile the best. 

Victoria (VIC)

Victoria probably has the most liberal travel concession criteria. 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. Speak directly to your education provider or visit the Study Melbourne website to obtain your student concession card.

Queensland (QLD)

Full-time students at an accredited educational institution in Queensland are entitled to transport concessions. The course you are studying should be approved by Centrelink for Abstudy, Austudy, or Youth Allowance purposes. Visit the Translink website for more information on transport fares in Queensland.

Reusable Smart Card System

Smart Card technology is a novel way of fare collection. It is an excellent alternative to cash transactions as it offers more efficient service to commuters and helps them to avoid long queues for tickets. Here are the major Australian cities that have implemented different reusable smart card system for their public transport system in Australia: 

City CardTransport System
SydneyOpal Card ticketing systembuses, trains, ferries, and trams.
BrisbaneGo Card electronic ticketbuses, trains, ferries, and trams.
AdelaideMetroCARD electronic smart cardbuses, trams, and trains.
MelbourneMyki tickettrams, buses, and trains.
CanberraMyWay ticketing systemlight rail and buses.
PerthSmartRider ticketing systembuses, trains, and ferries.

Where To Buy Reusable Smart Cards

When you first reach Australia, you can buy the smart cards at the international or domestic airport or train stations, depending on the city where you arrive. Alternatively, students can purchase their smart cards at the ferry wharves, bus stations, newsagents, supermarkets, 7-Eleven stores, convenience stores, vending machines, and pharmacies.

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