How to travel around Australia without needing a car

How to travel around Australia without needing a car
Photo: Dolgachov, Bigstock

Australia is known for being an expensive country, particularly, in the transport sector. But is transportation in the country really expensive when compared to international standards? Nope. In fact, 2015 research shows that six capital cities of Australia ranked in the list of the 10 most affordable cities for public transport.

“We may have expensive public transport, but we also have pretty high wage rates so the two need to balance out against each other,” said Robin Barlow, the director of NineSquared.

Different types of transportation in Australia

The secluded country can be reached via connector flights but how do citizens and travellers move to-and-fro within? Movement in Australia is not limited to cars, bikes, and taxis. In fact, ferries, buses, and trains are also popular modes of transportation. Public transport in the country varies from one state to another depending on the government.

Want to dive deeper and learn more? Let’s walk you through the most popular transport modes in the Land Down Under:

1 – Buses

Travelling from one city to another? Riding the local bus will be a good option. While there are many bus companies in Australia, Greyhound is the only national service. Travelling via the bus is comfortable but terribly slow, so keep that in mind if you’re in a rush.

2 – Cars

As in any other country, Aussies own cars as well. Several people, when there to travel for a prolonged period or living as students, go for renting cars as well. Where cars are the most popular way of commuting, know that it is not uncommon to get speeding fines in Australia.

The maximum speed limit is generally 50 km in urban areas. Another pointer to keep in mind – Aussies drive on the road’s left side.

3 – Rail

About 7.2% of people travelled via train to work in Australia in 2016. Trains are pretty slow as a transport option and they also happen to be expensive. However, they are faster than buses and treat your eyes to Australia’s scenery.

4 – Taxis

The big cities in Australia also have taxis and uber services. The thing is, these are pretty expensive. Taxi fare is higher on public holidays, weekends, and in the evening. It’s best to skip this facility if you’re short on cash.

5 – Planes

Travelling from one city to another? The fastest way to do so is by hopping onto a plane. About 85% of the long-distance journeys in the country are done by air. Qantas, Jetstar, and Virgin Blue are some airlines for domestic air transport. The latter two of these are cheaper than the former.

6 – Ferries and trams

Ferries are also a popular way to go about the country. About 70,591 people travelled to work via ferries or trams in 2016. To use ferry services, you need an opal card.

7 – Bicycles and motorbikes

Bicycles and motor bikes are also used in Australia. In fact, Melbourne had 25,594 bicycle commuters as of 2014 and Brisbane had even more cyclists despite having a lower population than Melbourne.

Several people also travel on foot for shorter distances in the country and 104,746 people travelled to work via trucks as well.

How to save money on transport in Australia

Wondering how you can save money on transport in Australia? Here’s a brief guide:

1 – Use smart cards

Using prepaid cards for public transport is convenient as well as more budget-friendly as you can get discounts on them. You have the option to automatically top-up your card as well through your debit or credit card when it runs out of cash.

2 – Book airport parking in advance

Be sure to book your airport parking beforehand. You can also have your car parked elsewhere nearby to escape the high charges of airport parking. If someone is to pick you up, you can wait for free for 20 minutes in the ‘waiting bay.’

3 – Make the most of student discounts

If you are a student studying in the country be sure to activate your card to be able to fetch discounts on public transportation.

4 – Compare prices beforehand

Religiously avoid taxis and uber as those options are costly. Compare prices of travelling via public transport to be able to determine which would suit your wallet best – rail, bus or ferry. You can jump onto the internet or use a smartphone app for looking for the best transport options in Australia. Be sure to search for coupon codes for transport.

Know that the bus system is the cheapest, planes are expensive but often offer discounts, and the train system is pretty costly too.

The future of transportation in Australia

In 2016, Melbourne was named as one of the most livable cities. While Sydney was just out of the top-10 list, it is also popular for its scenic beauty and amenities. Over the years these two cities have gotten very crowded as people are shifting there. With this, public transport has gotten more congested as well as slower.

Keeping this in view, its demand has also increased. It is expected that in the next 15 years, air transport services will be expanded. Moreover, Australia’s transport infrastructure is also facing challenges as it lags behind that of other comparable countries. In this regard, it is expected that hyperloop technology may make a difference.

Such a system would connect capitals and regions and be a means of transport for both people as well as freight. A Hyperloop system would offer faster transport at 1000 km. Moreover, such tech will also be available better.

Travelling from Sydney

On average, travelling from Sydney to Brisbane via bus which is the cheapest option will cost you $109 for a one-way ride. Travelling from the city to Melbourne will cost more bucks with the fare being $120. Here’s a brief overview of how many hours it takes to travel from Sydney to other cities:

Route Road
(km/miles)
Air
(hrs)
Coach
(hrs)
Rail
(hrs)
Sydney – Adelaide 1412 / 877 1.83 22 25.3
Sydney – Canberra 286 / 177 0.5 4.3 4
Sydney – Melbourne (inland) 872 / 542 1.1 14.3 10.25
Sydney – Melbourne (coastal) 1040 / 645 1.41
Sydney – Perth 4054 / 2513 4.17 63.3* 66.5
Sydney – Darwin 4210 / 2610 4.25 69 2
Sydney – Hobart 1589 / 985 1.75

 

What do you think about it?