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If you are in Brisbane, Australia, and you find yourself for whatever reason like me, needing to get somewhere and lacking a car and/or license, the good news is that the city has an extensive public transport network that, while not without flaws, is pretty good. But, like all public transport systems, it helps if you know what you’re doing. Well, this is an explanation of how it works for someone not familiar with it.

The Basics

Brisbane has three types of public transport: Buses, trains and ferries. In order to figure out which you need to use, try the official website, http://www.translink.com.au/. The site can be difficult to navigate but has a handy Journey Planner on the front page in which you can put in your starting destination, ending destination, times and (usually) get a sensible result of how to get there. Failing that, you can try ringing Translink or dropping into the information centre in the bottom of the Myer Centre in Queen Street Mall, in the city. The information booth does not sell tickets, do not like being asked to sell you a ticket, and if you do try and buy one, they will set you on fire. Otherwise, they are friendly and helpful, if very busy most of the time. There are also timetables on the website and information boards at every stop or station. Some have fancy touchscreen things too, which are generally useless.

No matter which you use, the city is divided into “zones” which affect the price of your ticket. The greater Brisbane area is covered by zones 1-5, while zones from 6-23 cover the rest of south-east Queensland. Integrated ticketing means you can buy a ticket from any service and use it on any other. The different types of ticket are:

  • Single

A single ticket, which is half price for a student, lists a starting zone and a finishing zone, and is valid for travel within those zones, typically for one trip. As you may need to change services midway, you are able to transfer between services for two hours after purchasing the ticket – this does mean you can quickly complete your business and return home on the same ticket.

  • Daily

A daily ticket costs twice that of a single (and again is half price for a student), this ticket lets you travel for an unlimited amount of time until last service in the listed zones. It is thusly possible to travel back and forth in an attempt to woo women. (Do not try this on the Caboolture line, as all women on that line are skanks. The best luck is on the QUT free intercampus bus for Students between Kelvin Groveand Gardens Point, but this only works for QUT students. Plenty of fine women and the popularity of a free bus among starving students means you’re packed right next to them. People WILL notice you’re going back and forth though.

Weekly and Monthly tickets work similarly to daily tickets, but as they are made from the same flimsy paper, it is inadvisable to buy them as they will probably be lost.


Most Brisbane locations are served by bus. They carry less people and are less comfortable than a train. It is proper etiquette, when there are no free seats, to sit next to someone rather than stand as standing makes you look like an idiot (You can thus sit next to cute women, who will then shun you with their iPods). Buses have route numbers indicating where they go, following a system where the first number indicates a cardinal direction and later numbers exact routes. For example, the 140, 130, and 150 bus all share similar routes. Each bus has a somewhat misleading name as to where is goes.

Stops are not announced in any way, so if you don’t know where you are getting off, ask the driver to indicate when your stop is, and sit in the front seat. The best place to sit on a bus is halfway down, just behind the rear doors on most model of bus (This is the “World Best” bus, built in Brisbane – annoying ads at city stations will tell you the whole story, and you WILL be sick of it, and you WILL know it off by heart, in your sleep). Sitting on your left gives you a rubber safety thing to lean on, enough room for your feet, and a slight step to rest your feet on if you choose. Sitting on your right gives you a glass screen, transparent enough to see the cute girls in the front of the bus, and reflective enough to see the ones behind.

Bus tickets are purchased when getting on the bus, or by showing the driver your pre-purchased ticket. They are the only public transport in which ten-trip tickets can be used. These are bought at a newsagency (usually from a cute chick with emo-red hair, at least at my newsagent) and allow for ten single trips in the named zone. You cannot transfer to another service with a ten trip, but they are priced such that two trips are free. A ten trip is inserted into a green box at the start of the trip, which notes the trip on the card’s magnetic stripe. The ten trip is a relic from before integrated ticketing and daily tickets, and you look like a luddite using one.

Quality of bus timetables vary. Some routes are called a “BUZ” route and come every fifteen minutes, and ten minutes in peak times. Some routes, such as those leading towards Ashgrove, come every half an hour at best and often not at all. (Older buses are used which frequently break down). Another problem with the bus is that a full bus will often drive right past a stop where people are waiting. Some bus stops have electronic displays which indicate the time the next few buses will come – note that these times have no correlation with the actual arrival of the buses, and any similarity is strictly coincidental.

Some buses run on what is called a busway, essentially a bus trying to mimic a train which it’s own proprietary road, and specific “stations” to stop at. These are very fast, but ultimately they are a poor replacement for the heavy rail Brisbane desperately needs more of – there are already so many buses that there is no more kerb left in the city for them to stop at.

There are several fauna on the bus. The cool bus driver is a cool guy, and you should always say thankyou. If exiting by the rear door, you should make eye contact as you walk past the front door and wave or tip your hat. Conversely, the dickhead bus driver has a dick for a head, and will charge you full price on a weekend unless you specify an off-peak ticket. Where a cool driver will cover for you when ticket inspectors board and you have forgotten your student card. (He’s cool, he’s a regular), the dickhead bus driver will point you out. At night, be aware of loud drunken people, especially loud drunken women – they are annoying, but easy to take home, and by getting a blowjob you can shut them up AND get a blowjob. Speaking of night-time, some buses end services early, some end at around midnight, and some have Friday and Saturday night “nightlink” services going all night. At any time, be aware of weirdos, usually insane homeless guys who want you to shake their wanking hand.


The train is more comfortable than the bus and carries far more people. It is easier to read on a train, and harder to miss your stop as each is announced over a PA system. This can be done by an automated voice system, or by the driver himself. Some drivers will have impossible to understand accents, others will make jokes. No matter the driver, the station for Nundah will be announced as “Nundah, Nundah station”.

It is correct etiquette on a train to stand unless there is a free seat, rather than sit next to someone UNLESS the train is very full. If a train gets full enough, you will all be standing squashed together. To avoid this, rather than standing in the “recommended waiting area” on the platform, stand at the lead carriage, this is usually less crowded.

Central station and some others have televisions displaying times the trains will arrive. Unlike buses, these are correct to the minute, apart from occasional delays. Handily, they divide the trains into “going north” and “going south” as the nearby stops are serviced by several train lines. Each train line is named for is final stop, and so it is important to learn which station you stop at, and which lines service that station. For example, if you want to go to the aforementioned Nundah, you can catch either the Shorncliffe train or the Caboolture train. After the Northgate station, these trains go in different directions – (and both become exceptionally poor for meeting cute girls). It is a better idea to get off at Bowan Hills station, where there are two high quality legal brothels. (The better one, Purely Blue, has rates of 220$ per hour, and serves fine coffee)

Trains tend to have services beginning early and ending around midnight. Usually, services are every half an hour, and more in peak times, though most nearby stations to the city are serviced by multiple lines, meaning trains every fifteen minutes.

Train stations themselves have overpriced vending machines. They are either staffed by staff (funnily enough) who will sell you a ticket, or a ticket machine that will sell you a ticket. The ticket machines are faster, more intelligent, and easier to use. Also, you can break them to avoid buying a ticket, and claiming to the inspectors it was broken (though usually you just have to buy a ticket at the other end anyway. Ticket fraud is bad, don’t do it.) Breaking the staff tends to be followed up with assault charges and arrest.

As a sidenote to trains is the airtrain, run by a private company to service the airport. The airtrain is priced stupidly high (around nine bucks a trip) but is a lot nicer inside, as though we want to impress visitors. All airtrain carriages smell like urine. Do not hold the rail next to the door as the door is opening (as logic would suggest you should) as this twists and will probably break your wrist.


For short trips, such as across the Brisbane river, you will be catching a ferry. These run perhaps every half an hour, and use a different zone scheme to buses and trains. Most seating is inside, but sitting outside is more fun, gives a view of the river, and has more cute girls on a Friday night. (The city lights look great).

For longer trips, you’re catching the citycat. Spacious and comfortable, it’s like a bus inside, down to the fabric on the seats. Try to get a seat outside, but since everyone wants to sit outside, seats are limited. A cat has a crew of three, at least one of whom is Brisbane is a cute girl. Inside the main seating area is a stupidly large and expensive flatscreen television, of which 90% of the space displays a corporate logo, while 10% of the space displays rolling headlines of news reports biased against users of cannabis. Also, the seats are about five to a row without an aisle, so expect a lot of clambering over the top of each other. Again, the citycat uses it’s own zone scheme, the same as for ferries.

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