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Free and Cheap Public Transport in Brisbane and Beyond!

This article will show you how to ride Brisbane’s public transport as cheaply as possible and sometimes for free!

Are you looking for free and cheap public transport in and around Brisbane? We’ve got the inside scoop on travelling via public transport in Brisbane with your family. 

Free travel for kids in Brisbane & beyond!

Children from five up to (and including) 14 years of age are able to touch on and off during weekends using their child go card with no deductions taken from their accounts. How’s that for cheap public transport?!

You just need to make sure the child has some money on their go card in addition to the card deposit money for this to work. 

Under fives travel for free anytime!

Public transport is an affordable and attractive option to explore Brisbane and the surrounding area with your family.

Free City Hoppers

Free Brisbane City hopper
Free Brisbane City Hopper

The CityHopper, a free inner-city ferry service on the Brisbane River by council, allows you to board and disembark at seven stops from North Quay to Sydney Street, New Farm. Operating every 30 minutes from 5:30 am to midnight, Sunday to Thursday, the service extends its hours into later Friday and Saturday nights.

Below is a route map for the City Hopper – the blue line.

Route Map for the City Hopper Ferry
Route Map for the City Hopper Ferry

If you want to go to New Farm Park on the free City Hopper, you get off at Sydney Street and walk up to the park. We have used the City Hoppers a few times and wrote bout our awesome day out here and again here.

Travel for free on these public buses in Brisbane

City Loop free council bus
City Loop free council bus

There are 3 public buses run by the council that are free to jump on and off all day long.

City Loop bus is free!

The City Loop circles Brisbane City’s most iconic sites, including stops at Brisbane City Hall, City Botanic Gardens, Queen Street Mall, and others, operating every 10 minutes on weekdays between 7 am and 6 pm. There are two routes available: a clockwise route (route 40) and an anti-clockwise route (route 50). City Loop buses and stops are easily identifiable by their distinctive purple color.

Spring Hill Loop

Explore the vibrant Roma Street Parkland or discover city sights by boarding the Spring Hill Loop (route 30). This service operates daily, running every 10 minutes during peak hours and every 20 minutes off-peak, utilizing two silent and smooth electric buses to efficiently transport you to your destination.

South Brisbane Loop

Council’s latest free bus loop, part of an 18-month trial until mid-2024, circles through the most popular stops in South Brisbane and West End. This bus operates daily, running every 10-12 minutes and conveniently connecting South Brisbane station to key destinations like the State Library of Queensland, Davies Park, South Bank Parklands, and back in no time.

Do I need a go card to catch a free loop bus?

No! You can simply hop onto the loop bus and hop off at your stop.

Families Magazine tips for securing cheap public transport

We’ve got the best cheap public transport tips to share…

  • You can save when you use your go card or pay for travel using Smart Ticketing*. go and Smart Ticketing fares are at least 30% cheaper than a single paper ticket. (In some areas you do still need to use a paper ticket but you can still bag a deal by buying a group of ten saver tickets together.) 
  • When you travel off-peak (between 8.30am and 3.30pm, or after 7pm on weekends and public holidays), you can also save a further 20%. 
  • When you make eight journeys in a seven day period (between Monday to Sunday), you get to travel for half price for all journeys the rest of that week!
  • Children, students, pensioners, seniors and Defence Force veterans are eligible for concession fares. You can read more about concession fares and eligibility.
  • Children aged four and under travel FREE any time!

*Smart Ticketing is currently being rolled out on buses and trains, and will be rolled out to ferries eventually, too. Smart Ticketing is a way to pay using your credit or debit card, or digital credit/debit card on smart phones and smart watched. To use Smart Ticketing, you still need to tap on and tap off, and your journey fee will be charged accordingly. You can learn more about the Smart Ticketing roll out here.

Travel on cheap public transport in South East Queensland

There are eight travel zones in South East Queensland. These cover: Greater Brisbane, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. (Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are excluded from the zones). 

Fares are based on how many zones you will travel in during your journey, what time you are travelling, who with and whether you’re using a go card or a paper ticket. 

Find adult prices for Brisbane public transport below:

Zonego cardgo card off-peakSingle paper ticket

To calculate your fare, look at all the zones you will travel in during your journey. Subtract the lowest zone from the highest zone and add 1. This will determine the number of zones you will be charged for. In South East Queensland, the zones start from zone 1 in Brisbane City.

As an example, if you are travelling between Ipswich (zone 3) and Fortitude Valley (zone 1), you would pay a 3-zone fare because you are travelling in zones 3, 2 and 1, which is (3-1)+1 = 3 zones.

Concession fares are approximately half the price of adult fares in the table above.

Where can kids travel using cheap public transport?

Make the most of the great public transport options…

The options are endless. There has never been a better time to get out and see what our city has to offer. Happy travels!

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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