Making your way around the sunny beaches, glamorous shopping centres and interesting markets of the Gold Coast is easy. As a tourism-focused city, public transport on the Gold Coast is geared for simple movements around its endless attractions.
The system features buses, trains and trams (light rail) and of course, there are also taxis. What you’ll need to get around is a go card, go seeQ card or go explore card. When choosing where to live, study or holiday, knowing your public transport options is vital.
The standard prepaid smart card system for public transport on the Gold Coast is the same one used for Brisbane. It’s called the go card and you can pick one up at many different locations including 7-Elevens, G:link (tram) stations, busway stations, train stations and some other outlets. You can also pick one up at Brisbane Airport if you take the Airtrain to get to the Gold Coast. More on that later.
You can buy and top up your Gold Coast go card online, at a local retailer or by calling 13 12 30. If you’re living or staying for an extended time on the Gold Coast, it’s a good idea to set up auto top-up so when the card reaches a low balance, it automatically charges your debit or credit card.
If your flight lands at Gold Coast Airport (formerly known as Coolangatta Airport), you can make your way into the City via numerous methods.
Surfside Buslines is the bus service used by the public and by tourists and it is administered by TransLink. Their ‘Get Around Guide’ will help you understand the routes around the coast, such as getting to shopping centres and other attractions.
There is a late night service called Nightlink which provides a safe transportation option for those who are out partying and clubbing until the early hours of the morning.
The train line itself is a bus ride away from Surfers Paradise, Southport and Broadbeach, the action centres of the Gold Coast. Trains connect major centres such as Helensvale, Nerang, Robina and Varsity Lakes as well as Ormeau and Coomera.
The new G: light rail system runs between 5am and midnight on weekends and weekends. Between 7am and 7pm on week days, the service runs every 7 and a half minutes. The trams are new, modern, air conditioned and clean.
You can jump on a tram, or “ride the G:” in the local vernacular, and explore a number of different world-famous beaches, go shopping, study at Griffith University or visit an endless array of popular Gold Coast attractions. The G: system runs at around 99% punctuality and close to 100% reliability.
If your flights land in Brisbane but you’re staying at the Gold Coast, travelling between the two centres is easy. The Airtrain travels from Brisbane Airport to Gold Coast every 15 minutes during peak times and every 30 minutes off-peak. Airtrain stops at all Gold Coast stations but if you’re travelling to Southport, Main Beach, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach or the Gold Coast Convention Centre, you’ll get off the train at Helensvale. It is approximately a 90-minute trip one way, quite pleasant and very economical.
Once off the train at Helensvale, simply take the G:link light rail (tram) service to any of 18 stations on the network. If you’re staying in Brisbane, this is a great way to spend the day at the beach at Surfers Paradise, shopping at Broadbeach or visiting a convention.
Or, if you’re studying and need to go back and forth between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, this is also how you’d do it. Follow the same instructions in reverse if you’re staying on the coast and want to visit Brisbane. Once you arrive in Brisbane, get off the train at Roma Street station which is within short walking distance to the CBD.
The Train & Transfer ticket option allows you to travel directly between Brisbane Airport and your accommodation on the Gold Coast. A friendly Airtrain staff member will greet you at the ticket counter, arrange your tickets and let you know which Gold Coast station to get off at.
They’ll also arrange for a driver to be waiting there for you to take you straight to your hotel or other address. The service is surprisingly affordable and after a long-haul international flight, is a popular option for weary travellers.
The public transport options on the Gold Coast are comprehensive enough that you can find your way around without having to drive. So save yourself the money on a rental car or, if living on the Gold Coast, buying a car and enjoy letting someone else do the driving!