Brisbane's largely modern network of buses, RiverCats, ferries and trains are by and large a pleasant and amenable - although sadly, not cheap- way to get around. That is, except in peak hour, when, as is the case with any populous city, they turn into crowded sweat boxes. All come under the Translink (see below) umbrella with regards to timetables, fares and ticketing.
Bicycles make a viable alternative with plenty of good off-road cycle paths (though not in the CBD itself) while those who don't mind taking their life into their hands can battle it out in the unsympathetic traffic and hopefully win.
Taxis, serviced in the main by two companies, come in standard or business class otherwise, for a bit of environmentally friendly fun, Green Cabs (pedicabs) do the tourist routes around South Bank and to the CBD on Friday nights and weekends.
In recent years Brisbane has undergone a mammoth program of building busways, tunnels, dedicated bus lanes alongside freeways and across bridges, with interconnected bus interchanges gradually being created at major public hospitals, shopping centres and planned high density 'transport hubs' in various suburbs. That said, unless you're travelling from one of these hubs to a shopping centre, hospital or university the best bet for using a bus is still the journey to the city. Brisbane's fleet of buses are largely modern, air-conditioned and gas powered although a number of diesel powered dinosaurs still trundle their way noisily around town.
Operating on high frequency bus routes between the city and suburbs are the Buz services - buses which run between the standard hours of 6am-11.30pm without timetable - at intervals of 10 mins or less at peak hour and 15 mins or less at other times. Some , such as those to the southern suburbs and estern suburbs, have deicated busways that cut a considerable time off travel, especially at peak hour.
Another specialty is the CityGlider, a high frequency express service running between West End and Teneriffe via the CBD and Fortitude Valley and connected to the CityCycle Hire scheme at each end. This largely amounts to a youth bus on Fridays and Saturdays when it is a 24 hr service (and 18 hours on Sunday) that ferries the crowds between eating, drinking and entertainment hubs.
Free City Loop
This underused and relatively unknown red bus service operates for free, running in a continuous loop around the CBD with distinctive red bus stops at the City Botanic Gardens, Queen Street Mall, King George Square, Central Station, Riverside and the QUT precinct. Mon-Fri 7am-6pm Every 10mins
Free Spring Hill Loop
Like the City Loop, this service runs a continuous loop, this time between the CBD and Spring Hill. It can be picked up in the CBD at the corner of Queen and Edward St and stops at various points on Boundary St, Wickhsm Tce, and Upper and Little Edward Sts. Mon-Fri Half hourly from 7-8.30am then every 10 mins until 6pm.
RiverCats and Ferries
Far and away the best way to travel is by Rivercat, where, not only is the scenery exceedingly better, but if it all gets too hot and sweaty you can duck out onto the deck to catch a breeze or some fresh air. Rivercats do the zig zag journey via the bends of the river from UQ (via Toowong, South Bank, CBD, Kangaroo Point, New Farm & Bulimba) all the way to Hamilton and these are supplemented by cute little cross river ferries between Teneriffe and Bulimba and Kangaroo Point and the CBD.
All train lines either originate at or pass through the CBD, with the only station in the city proper being heritage-listed Central Station. Roma St on the western cusp of the CBD is the major hub and changing point for suburban lines and country link lines.
From the city ten lines span out in different directions - three to the bayside and one to Ipswich, the southwestern suburbs, the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, northern suburbs, Doomben and the airport, with all operated by Queensland Rail except for the privately owned Airtrain to the airport.
Most stations have some sort of parking facility although in recent years many have become way outgrown by commuter demand.
Brisbane has a decent collection of dedicated off road bike paths, the best of which run along the riverside in the inner city suburbs, reaching as far as UQ and West End from the CBD. Otherwise many of the city's creeks have green belt paths that run alongside and connect various suburbs, or the Western Freeway bikeway out to the southwest. Otherwise cyclists slug it out with a largely intolerant motoring fraternity on the city's roads.
- CityCycle: Is the city's chief bicycle hire scheme where users collect a bike at one station and drop it off at their destination, with bike hire stations scattered throughout the CBD and inner city suburbs. Despite its good intentions it has been slow to be embraced by the community largely due to its still-to-be-resolved planning issues - a lack of accessibility to helmets coupled with stringent helmet-wearing laws, a lack of dedicated bikeways in the vicinity of the stations along with the protracted pre-planned process, including helmet purchase, that a potential user must go through before they can jump on a bike - citycycle.com.au
- Brisbane Bicycle Hire: Otherwise less complicated bike hire options are available in both the City Botanic Gardens and the Kangaroo Point Riverlife Adventure Centre for on-the-spot hire, with free helmets provided. Located inside main gates. Sat-Sun, Pub hols 8.30-5.30 Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri 9.30-5 Rates from: A $15 hr, C$10 hr. Riverlife Adventure Centre – base of Kangaroo Pt cliffs Rates from $15 pp 1 ½ hrs
Green pedicabs, perfect for Brisbane's climate, kind to the environment and handy for travelling between short distances in the South Bank and CBD, operate on weekends and days of special events. They can be picked up at their rank at the base of Wheel of Brisbane at South Bank or hailed in the city at various drop off points such as the Treasury Casino and King George Square. Common routes take them into West End, Caxton St, Suncorp Stadium and Fortitude Valley and avoid hilly terrain.
Fares start at $5 per adult for a 2-3 block ride and children under 8 travel free with 2 adults. Green cabs can also be booked provided pick up address is within their travel domain. Fri 5-late Sat 11-late Sun, Public, School hols 11-6 - greencabs.net.au
Brisbane is home to two main taxi fleets - Black and White Cabs and Yellow Cabs, both of which, for a surcharge of $12, offer a premium 'Business Class' silver cab service and Maxi Taxis for groups of up to 10.
Standard cab charges vary according to distance and routes travelled, time of day etc but both companies have fare calculators on their websites. Payment wise, both accept credit cards, albeit with a surcharge. Booking ahead also incurs a surcharge.
Yellow Cabs 13 1924 - Black & White Cabs 13 3222
The major car hire companies service Brisbane, with Hertz, Avis and Budget as well as Airport Car Hire having desks at the airport and offices for pick up and drop off in the city. Thrifty has the desk at the airport and an office in Fortitude Valley with smaller outfit Alpha car hire in the Valley as well.
TransLink is the go-to site for all travel by bus, rivercat or train, with an idiot proof online travel planner that incorporates all three. Just type in an address or place of both origin and destination and it spits out a number of options, with stations, bus numbers, ferry terminals and times, including walking distances - translink.com.au
The GoCard is the essential and seamless tool of travel across buses, trains, RiverCats and ferries. While paper tickets are still sold, there's an ongoing effort being made to phase them out, part of which involves a 50% premium on GoCard fares.
Go Cards, which vary according to the number of zones of travel, are available at some 550 outlets throughout the suburbs and city of Brisbane, including 7-Elevens, news agencies, railways stations and some busways. Again the Translink website can locate the nearest one. An initial outlay of money is credited to the account and topped up thereafter at the outlets of purchase, online, on board buses (except Brisbane buses), and CityCats and CityFerries. It is essential that there is enough credit on the account before making a journey.
Note that GoCards must be validated at both the beginning and end of a journey unless you want to pay the equivalent of an air fare to get to the next suburb.