Brisbane Public Transport Guide: Go Card, Discount Cards & Tips!

Australia, famous for its vast territory and rich resources, often has considerable distances between attractions. If you're primarily a sightseer and aren't planning to rent a car, public transportation becomes essential. In Brisbane, the primary modes of public transportation are trains, buses, and ferries. In this article, we will thoroughly explore Brisbane's entire transit system, the Go Card, and other discount fare options in hopes of aiding your journey!


(Have you noticed what this adorable driver is up to?)

A Basic Understanding

Queensland, Australia organizes regions and pricing by zones, starting from the city center "Zone 1" and branching outwards. The city center and its surrounding areas roughly account for 2-3 zones. If you estimate using bus times, traveling from Zone 1 to the border of Zone 2 will take about 1-2 hours. The "Greater Brisbane Area", spanning from Noosa in the north to the Gold Coast in the south, extends to approximately "Zone 8", a journey of around 2-3.5 hours. This provides some perspective on why Brisbane is the second-largest city in the world in terms of land area!


Public Transportation Introduction


All public transportation in Brisbane is connected to "TRANSLINK". This company has done a great job of integrating resources. Through their "Journey Planner" function on their website, you can conveniently find recommended route numbers, timetables, and combinations by inputting relevant conditions. There is also a mobile APP version available!

Type Description
Bus Buses are the primary mode of transportation in Brisbane, with hundreds of routes. Depending on the region or route, buses with numbers starting with 1 serve the southern area, 2 for eastern, 3 for northern, 4 for western, 5 for the Logan City area, 6 for the Sunshine Coast area, and 7 for the Gold Coast area.

※ On Fridays and Saturdays, night buses (00:00-05:00) are available. (Notice anything? That's right, it's for the many night owls here!)
There is no announcement system on the bus, if it's your first time here, besides using mobile GPS or asking the driver, you won't know what the next stop is (this is something I and many friends still can't comprehend)
Route MapTimetable
Train If you're planning a trip slightly away from the city center, such as the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast, taking the train in conjunction with the bus is the best method!

The train has an announcement system, so you can clearly know what the next stop is (why don't buses have this?)
Route MapTimetable
Ferry Only operates along the Brisbane River, with three types: City Cat, City Hopper, and Cross River Ferry. They're slower than the train and bus, but you can enjoy the beautiful city view along the riverbanks, offering a distinct sense of leisure!
Route MapTimetable

(Bus stop designs vary in different places.)


(Brisbane riverside ferry station.)

Next, we will introduce the public transport discount cards available for use in Brisbane, in order: the "Go Card", "SeeQ Card", and "Gold Coast go explore card".

1. Go Card

The "Go Card" is the electronic ticket to fast, easy and convenient travel in South East Queensland. You need to tap the card while boarding and alighting (touch on & touch off). While you can purchase a paper ticket on board, the Go Card not only saves time but offers a 30% discount on standard fares, with up to 50% off during off-peak times. Since all 3 types of public transportation calculate fares by zones, you can freely interchange and combine buses, trains, and ferries. The comprehensive fare chart is as follows:


(Brisbane public transportation: Go Card adult fares.)


(Brisbane public transportation: Go Card concession fares.)


(The Go Card comes in 4 types, from left to right: Adult, Child, Concession, Senior. The most relevant for most people are the first three. Note that "Child" refers to children aged 5-14, those under 4 (inclusive) travel for free. "Concession" applies to students enrolled in formal programs in Australia, language schools are not included.)

※Update: The green Go Card (concession card) is no longer sold directly. Instead, you need to buy the blue Go Card (adult card), then register online to apply for the student fare discount.

Q1: Where can I purchase and top-up a Go Card?

Official website
◎ 7-11 convenience stores
◎ Most train stations and some bus stops
Any retail outlet with a Buy Go Card sign (like newsstands)
※ If you're using the auto top-up machine at the station, you are able to pay in cash or by credit card.
※ A deposit of 10 AUD is required when purchasing the card, which can be claimed back upon returning the card.

Q2: When are off-peak times?

Off-peak times are from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm and 7 pm - 3 am on weekdays, as well as on weekends and Australian public holidays.

Q3: Are there any other rules for using the service?

Within the same zone in Brisbane, you can transfer up to 3 times for free within one hour using both the Go Card and paper tickets. For traveling across zones, you would need to pay the difference. The start of a new week for counting rides is every Monday. Once you take 7 rides in a week, starting from the 8th ride (except for the Airtrain), you can enjoy a 50% discount on any public transport in Brisbane! For instance, a person commuting regularly to work would start to enjoy the half-price from their 8th ride, which usually happens after work on a Thursday, until Sunday.

Q4: What happens if you forget to swipe your card when getting off?

Upon your next trip, a fixed rate will be deducted in addition to your fare.

  Adult Card Fixed Rate Concession Card Fixed Rate
Train 10 AUD 5 AUD
Bus/Ferry 5 AUD 2.5 AUD
Airport Train 30 AUD 25 AUD

Other Points of Attention

1. Each state in Australia has its own public transport system and card, such as Sydney's 'Opal Card', Melbourne's 'myki card', Perth's 'SmartRider Card', Adelaide's 'metroCard', etc. The Queensland Go Card is not usable in other states.
2. A few non-Translink public transportation services, like certain ferries and buses on islands, do not accept the Go Card.
3. Brisbane's bus stops come in two colors: white and yellow. White is for major stops and yellow for minor ones. Express buses stop only at white stops.
4. After purchasing the card, you can choose to register it on the official website. This leaves a record of your usage online and allows you to set up the auto top-up. In case you lose your card, this record can help you retrieve your remaining balance.
5. The 'Airtrain' is part of the train system and accepts Go Cards. However, if you board or disembark at 'Brisbane Airport', a separate fare (between 15-35 Australian dollars) applies. Normal fare rules do not apply here.
6. For any issues with the card, you can contact the customer service hotline at 13 12 30.


2. SeeQ Card

Next, we have the SeeQ Card, which offers incredible value for those visiting Brisbane for a short period, but also want to explore outside of the city. This card is also perfect for those planning to visit many long-distance destinations. With this card, you can enjoy unlimited rides on Translink public transport (train, bus, and ferry) in southeastern Queensland for three or five consecutive days (starting from the day of the first swipe). This includes return trips on the Airtrain to the airport.


(This card has a very wide range of use. According to official documents, it reaches as far north as Gympie, as far south as Coolangatta, and as far west as Helidon. Essentially, it covers most popular destinations in Brisbane and the Gold Coast!)

  3-day card 5-day card
Ticket Type Adult
Price Adult AUD 79 AUD 129
Child AUD 40 AUD 65
Purchase Method Purchase online: Click here
Purchase locally: Click here for locations
※The usage rules are the same as with the Go Card, swiping is required when getting on and off (a bus, train or boat).

3. Gold Coast go explore card

This card operates on a daily fare, offering unlimited rides on Translink public transport for one day. Unlike the previous two cards, it is limited to use within the 'Gold Coast' region. It's ideal for those whose main itinerary is in this area.

  Adult Child
Ticket Type
Cost 10 AUD/day 5 AUD/day
Purchase Method Purchase online: Click here
Purchase locally: Click here for locations
※The card can be recharged within 8 days, and the usage rules are the same as the previous two cards. A card swipe is required when getting on and off.

That sums up the major transportation tools and discount cards in Brisbane currently. If you find this information helpful, feel free to share it with others!

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