If you want to explore Perth efficiently and sustainably, the public transport system offered by Transperth is a fantastic choice. Public transport in Perth is simple, quick, and efficient, and a great option if you don’t want to drive or don’t have a car yet.
Coming from South Africa, for me using public transport when I moved overseas was a total novelty for a really long time – and surprising to many people who grew up in countries where using public transport was more the norm than car travel.
In this blog, I’ll share everything you need to know about public transport in Perth, from buses, trains, and ferries to fares, SmartRider cards, journey planning and more.
Getting Around Perth With Transperth
Transperth is the government agency responsible for public transport in Perth, and their website is a valuable resource for travellers.
You can use buses, trains and even ferries to get around the city and its suburbs, from Two Rocks to Mandurah and beyond!
Because Perth is a city that hugs the coastline, it can be a little tricky to navigate on public transport. The train lines mostly run north-south and east-west, with plenty of buses that connect the suburbs to the train lines. There are also some ferry options around the city to get across the river efficiently. Most people will need a car, but public transport can be a good option too if needed.
Bus Transport In Perth
Buses are a vital part of Perth’s public transport network. They operate throughout the metropolitan area and provide a convenient way to reach destinations not directly accessible by trains.
Transperth’s website has detailed information on bus routes, timetables, and even real-time tracking for many services, making it easy to plan your journey.
There are also special services for school students and senior citizens, allowing them to travel at a reduced cost.
All suburbs in Perth have buses that travel around the area, and stop at main hubs like the local train stations, allowing you to connect to another network for your journey.
Train Transport Around Perth
Perth’s train network is a rapid and efficient way to move around the city and its suburbs. The train system covers key areas, including the CBD, major suburban centres, and extends to rural regions. With different lines, you can reach a variety of destinations easily.
Transperth’s website provides comprehensive details on train routes, schedules, and station facilities. During large events or sporting occasions, Transperth often increases train services to accommodate the influx of passengers.
The train lines are named by the key area/routes they serve so you have the following lines:
- Joondalup Line
- Mandurah Line
- Midland Line
- Fremantle Line
- Armadale & Thornlie Line
- Airport Line
We used the Airport line earlier this year when we went on our first international flight since Covid, and it was SO easy to use. I would highly recommend it, for just $5 we travelled from Joondalup to the airport and arrived right at the airport terminal. The station was super modern and beautifully decorated too.
Ferries are a unique way to get around Perth, offering stunning views of the city from the Swan River. Transperth operates regular ferry services that connect Elizabeth Quay on the north side of the river to the Mends St Jetty on the south side. It’s handy for getting to the Perth Zoo and perfect for travel-obsessed little ones!
You can visit the Transperth website for information on ferry routes, schedules, and ticketing.
Parking At Train & Bus Stations
Parking at the stations can be a little tricky in the week as many people use public transport in Perth to get to work. If you want to get a parking spot make sure you don’t leave it too late otherwise you might find the car park is full!
It currently costs $2 to park at Transperth stations for up to 24 hours and this only applies during weekdays, parking on weekends is free. You can only pay with cash or your SmartRider card (see more on that below), you cannot pay with a bank card which is a bit frustrating.
Fares and Tickets
Understanding Transperth’s fare system is crucial for a hassle-free journey. The website provides comprehensive information about fares, including concession rates for students, seniors, and pensioners.
The fare system changed on 1 July 2023, and now you pay no more than a 2-zone fare even if you are travelling through more than 2 zones.
You can buy tickets with cash from ticket machines at all stations, and from bus drivers on board. However, bus drivers do not give change so make sure you have an exact fare or be prepared to get no change! Ticket machines accept cash and card payments.
Student fares are available on weekdays during the public school year dates. Outside of the school year, students can access concession fares making their travel more affordable too.
My favourite options when travelling on public transport are the DayRider and FamilyRider options which make travel so affordable especially for families. These currently cost just $10.30 for all day travel on the entire Transperth network. The DayRider is for one person, but the FamilyRider allows for a group of up to 7 people to travel all day on just one ticket.
This includes up to 2 people who would normally pay a full fare and up to 5 people who are eligible for a concession fare (children, students, pensioners and carers). We have often travelled on a FamilyRider and it really does make a huge difference to your pocket when travelling as a family. These tickets are only available on certain days so make sure you check if it’s a valid option on the day of your travel.
To streamline your travel on public transport in Perth, consider obtaining a SmartRider card. This reusable smart card allows for quick and convenient access to public transport services at a discounted rate to buying individual tickets for every journey you take. It can be loaded with credit for journeys, and you can also enjoy discounts on your fares when using a SmartRider card.
The standard SmartRider card costs $10 initially but is loaded with $10 credit. With this card you get 10% off all your fares when you tag on and off using your SmartRider. If you autoload your card (set up a direct debit for topping up your card when it’s running low), you get 20% off your fares.
If you travel regularly, it is well worth having, and it makes it easier to pay for parking rather than relying on having cash for parking machines.
Recently the WA government introduced free travel on the first Sunday of each month exclusively for people with SmartRider cards, an even better reason to get SmartRider cards for the whole family.
Special Event Transportation
As a major Australian city, it’s no surprise that Perth often hosts hugely attended concerts and sporting fixtures. During these times, Transperth increases the number of services around the event area, including buses and trains, to ensure that people attending these events can reach their destinations conveniently and safely. This ensures that you can enjoy the event without worrying about transportation logistics.
A bit of a warning though – I’ve been to plenty of cricket matches at Optus Stadium and while they do put on special event trains, it can be a bit of a crush when leaving and I’ve always found that the journey planner doesn’t always match up with what we experience though. Coming from the north on the Joondalup line, each time I’ve planned to get a train that doesn’t stop in the city and is supposed to go straight through to Optus Stadium, it’s always required a stop and change in the city. Super annoying, but you know, first world problems!
A little tip from me, if you’re heading to Optus Stadium for an event, I’ve found the quickest and least stressful option is to drive and park at the public car park next to the WACA ground, then walk across the Matagarup Bridge. It’s a lovely walk when it’s not super-hot at least, and if it is really hot, you can hop on one of the buses that go past the WACA and drop you right at the bridge. But don’t tell too many people, I don’t want to get there for the next Big Bash game and it’s full up!
Journey Planner Tool
This is one of my go-to tools when it comes to planning any journey we take on public transport around Perth.
The Transperth website features a helpful journey planner tool that allows you to map out your entire trip, combining bus, train, and ferry services to find the best routes and schedules for your journey. It’s a user-friendly and powerful tool to help you navigate Perth and is great for new arrivals to get to know where to go and how to get there.
You can enter the time you want to leave, where you are departing and where you need to arrive and it will map out the best options for you including walking between stops and stations and timed to the minute.
Transperth has a zone-based fare system, with different fare zones across the network. The website provides detailed information about these zones and how they affect your fares.
Make sure to check the zones to understand the costs associated with your journey.
Your fare will be calculated based on the number of zones you travel through.
- If you travel within the one zone, you will be charged a one-zone fare.
- If you travel over a zone boundary into another zone, you will be charged a two-zone fare.
All journeys on the Transperth system are now capped at a two-zone fare. It was recently made a lot simpler by the introduction of the cap – your journey will never cost more than a 2-zone fare, even if you travel through more than 2 zones.
Disability Access & Facilities
Transperth is committed to providing accessible transportation for all passengers. Buses, trains, and ferries are equipped with facilities to accommodate passengers with disabilities.
There are accessible toilets at all major bus and train stations, free accessible parking at all stations with parking, plus accessible phones and drinking fountains too. All bus, train and ferry services have priority seats for seniors, people with disabilities and parents carrying children.
The website offers more guidance on accessible services, animal assistance rules, and tips for a hassle-free journey.
Free CAT Bus Services
To make your life even easier, Transperth offers free Central Area Transit (CAT) bus services, which operate in distinct loops, making it easy to get around key areas of the CBD and Joondalup.
The city has 5 different CAT buses taking different routes around the city so you can get almost anywhere in the centre for free.
Joondalup has 3 free CAT bus routes travelling through the city, the train station and the local university which is handy for students and staff.
Buses also have free transit zones within Perth city – how awesome is that? If you start and finish your bus journey in the same zone, there is no fee to travel!
Read more about free travel on Transperth here.
Hopefully this blog has helped you discover that public transport in Perth is a convenient and sustainable way to travel around our beautiful city. The Transperth website is an invaluable resource for information on routes, schedules, fares, and more. Whether you’re traveling by bus, train, or ferry, Transperth has you covered.
Make the most of your journey with a SmartRider card, take advantage of special event services, and use the journey planner tool to navigate Perth effortlessly. With an emphasis on accessibility and safety, Transperth ensures a smooth and enjoyable experience for all travellers. So, hop on board and discover the wonders of Perth through its public transport system!
Have you used the Transperth system for public transport in Perth? How have you found it? Let me know in the comments below.