We have just moved to Hope Island on the Northern end of the Gold Coast and tried out the local public transport.

The Go Card

We had to get a Go Card to use the public transport. Finding a place that sold them on the Gold Coast was difficult. You can easily get them at a train station, and usually at 7 Elevens. Unfortunately, all the 7 Eleven’s were Go Card systems weren’t working the day I was travelling. Instead, we had to find our way to the station, which can be tough if you live a long way from it.

Once you have the Go Card, it is pretty easy to use. It works across all forms of public transport in South East Queensland. You just touch on when you get on and touch off when you disembark any form of transport. 

The downside of the Go Card is that there is no cap like the MyKi system in Melbourne, so you can end up chalking up a pretty chunky fare in a day.

A Journey on Gold Coast Public Transport

We had to return our rental car to East Coast Car Rentals near the Gold Coast Airport in Tugan. I planned to catch public transport back to Hope Island to get a feel for how it all works.

The rental car company dropped me off at Gold Coast airport and I caught the 777 bus to Broadbeach. The 777 bus is a double decker. If you sit up top on the left hand side, you might get a couple of glimpses of ocean as you go.

The Gold Coast Tram

From Broadbeach, I caught the tram towards Helensvale which is a 55 minute journey. The tram was mostly clean, although there were a couple of pizza boxes left on the seats.They may not be being very thorough with the cleaning for COVID-19 now in Queensland as they haven’t had any cases for a while. 

The tram journey took 55 minutes from end to end – it would be nice if it was faster! That said, it is a good way to see a lot of the Gold Coast. 

The Hope Island Bus 718

Once I got to Helensvale Station, there are plenty of transport options including the train to Brisbane and lots of buses. Unfortunately, the bus to Hope Island only operates every hour, so I had to wait over 40 minutes for it. It would be nice if it ran every 10-20 minutes!

The other downside of catching buses in Hope Island is that they schedule two different bus services that run pretty close to the same time. We accidentally got on a Southport Bus instead of the Helensvale Bus. With services running infrequently we couldn’t get back to Helensvale in time so had to write off the whole afternoon.

The Train

In the following days, I have also had the chance to catch the Gold Coast train down from Brisbane. The train is clean and easy to catch. But it needs more stations on the Gold Coast line. It also needs more frequent connecting bus services as the train line runs out the back tof the coast. They have added the tram line to help with this but there are plenty of other opportunities for improvement.

The Gold Coast Train
The Gold Coast Train

The Translink App

To help you plan and track your journey, you will want to download the Translink App. Alternatively, you can use Google Maps and select public transport. The app isn’t perfect but it is helpful. It would be beneficial if it had some kind of AI so the app recognised which transport services you were on and gave updated suggestions for faster ways to get to your destination and avoid delays.

Is it worth it?

Queensland’s Public Transport is clean, runs on time and most of their vehicles are pretty new. 

The public transport system on the Gold Coast works well if you are staying or live in one of the major areas like Surfer’s Paradise. But even then, you typically have to catch two forms of transport from the airport. 

My journey from the Gold Coast Airport to Hope Island took me over 3 hours. Unfortunately, I think that’s just too long for most people to make it worthwhile. More frequent bus services to Hope Island would make this faster. It would be nice if the Gold Coast train line went all the way to the airport and had more stops. They are planning to add a station at Hope Island, but with completion not due until 2024, that’s a long time to wait for a train!

The upside, it only cost $5.02 on public transport compared to around $70-80 for an Uber.

What’s been your experience with Public Transport on the Gold Coast?