For the past four years, I have lived and loved in West End - so I'm new enough to the city to remember how confusing it was, and old enough to be able to pass on what I've learned about this amazing city.
Brisbane for Beginners: Getting Around Any new city is a challenge, and one of the first challenges you will have to face is how to get from A to B. Not all of us can afford to hail a taxi, sit back and relax. And Brisbane is no different. Like most big cities, depending on where you need to go, how much time you have, and your budget - Brisbane offers you five modes of transport: bus, train, ferry, bicycle and bicycle taxis.
The most ubiquitous mode of transport are the Brisbane City Busses. They are everywhere, and run with amazing frequency. I live in the West End for example, and at peak time the 199 bus comes past my door every five minutes or so. During the rest of the day, the interval stretches out to about 10 minutes. Pretty darn good.
Brisbane CityGlider bus
There are over 1200 buses in constant service, with 98% of them offering wheel-chair access. And if you want a quick cool off in summer, remember that 100% of busses are air conditioned. You will quickly notice that some buses look different. They are predominantly blue, have no advertising and have "CityGlider" emblazoned on their sides. Hard to miss. NB These buses only accept pre-purchased goCards.
You can buy your goCard at over 600 outlets around the city and suburbs – at selected 7-Elevens, SupaNews and other outlets, including online (https://gocard.translink.com.au/webtix/) New goCards cost $10 (refundable if/when you return it). For the visitor to Brisbane – a goCard is an absolute MUST.
The next thing you need to know is that the city is divided into roughly concentric rings, called zones. Zone 1 starts in the CBD, and successive zones spread out from there. Fares are calculated based on the number of zones you travel through. Travel within a single zone costs $3.35 (Dec 2014). But one of the coolest things to know is that with a single ticket, you can transfer between any number of buses, trains, ferries and trams in a two hour window (within the zones your ticket is for) so long as you remain within that zone. This means that you can hop on (and off) as many buses you please, transfer to a train, or a ferry, and basically travel on the public transport system for a full two hours for the price of a single ticket. How cool is that? So don't throw your paper ticket away when you get on the bus – you may need it again. For example, I often catch the bus from the West End into the city, do my shopping/browsing/have lunch etc, and catch the bus back all for $3.35 – so long as I return within the 2 hours. Easy as…
MyTransLink app And if all this wasn't enough, you can download the free MyTranslink app for either iPhone or Android devices, and have a wealth of timetabling, special offers, alerts and your customized favorite routes. Just search for myTranslink app at either the App Store or Google Play.
So that's buses. But don't forget the ferries. These offer a completely different experience. They are nowhere near as frequent and the journey will take much longer – but there's nothing to beat standing on the deck of a CityCat as it glides smoothly along the Brisbane river bordered by the city skyline. If you're not in a hurry – you HAVE to try either the CityCat or one of the smaller old-world ferries which ply the river. A night trip is even better. Why not use the ferry to take you to a performance at the Powerhouse complex? There's nothing quite like it. And don't forget, your goCard (or paper ticket) will work on all ferries. Hold on to that ticket…
The CityHopper service
All journeys on the old-world cityHopper ferries are free. Yep – absolutely no charge. Just hop on, and hop off at will.
Trains Given that trains can travel only on the rail lines, and that many destinations are not close to these rail lines, a surprisingly large number of people use the train service. This is because they can catch a bus to the station, transfer to the train and (if necessary) transfer to another bus (or ferry) as required – all on a single ticket. Trains are great for longer distances. For example, I have a number of friends who train in from Caboolture which is a choking journey in on the motorway, and which is poorly serviced by buses. They arrive in the city fresh and stress-free. Same for friends who commute from the Gold Coast. The train is the ONLY way to go.
The AirTrain (www.airtrain.com.au) This is a dedicated train link from the Airport to either Brisbane City, its suburbs or the Gold Coast. A one-way trip from the city costs $17 ($15.30 if booked online) with children under 14 years free.
You can't miss the CityCycle bikes – they are on every second street corner both in the city and the inner city suburbs. There are over 150 stations, but for a number of reasons, this European style bike rental hasn't really taken off in Brisbane. Perhaps it is because in Queensland we need to wear helmets when riding a bike (and who keeps one handy all the time?). Perhaps it's because journeys need to be under 30 minutes duration (or penalties apply). Or perhaps it's because although your goCard works at the CityCycle stations, you have to additionally register with CityCycle first. All a bit messy.
Green Cabs provide a clean, green, carbon free transport service for inner city Brisbane. Their service is also fun to use, efficient and affordable. You will be surprised at how quickly they can get you there. Mostly Green Cabs travel routes between West End and Fortitude Valley and along the Brisbane River. During the day our cabs are usually based at South Bank at the Wheel of Brisbane. At night, you will find Green Cabs at South Bank and throughout the city centre. Trips start from $5 per person. And best of all – its great fun.
So there you have it. The first in the "Brisbane for Beginners" series. Subscribe to this channel, to make sure you get the whole series. Everything you ever needed to know about Brisbane.