Stuck in traffic: 60 per cent of Perth has no decent public transport (2024)

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By Sarah Brookes



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New analysis has found more than 1.2 million people living in Perth don’t have access to frequent, all-day public transport, leaving them stuck using polluting and expensive cars for most of their trips.

The Climate Council study found Perth was the second-worst out of Australia’s five largest capital cities for access to frequent, convenient and reliable public transport.

Stuck in traffic: 60 per cent of Perth has no decent public transport (1)

The minimum level of public transport service considered to be necessary for people to choose it over a car trip is a service running every 15 minutes between 7am-7pm, within 800 metres of the home.

Brisbane had the worst access, with 66.4 per cent of residents lacking such services, followed by Perth (59.5 per cent), Adelaide (52.4 per cent), Melbourne (47.5 per cent) and Sydney (32.8 per cent).

The report, Next Stop Suburbia: Making Shared Transport Work for Everyone in Aussie Cities, shows some of the biggest service gaps across the country are in Kwinana, Mandurah and Armadale. The best availability in Perth is in the CBD, Belmont, Victoria Park and Fremantle.

Climate Council policy and advocacy head Jennifer Rayner said access to good public transport ended around 12 kilometres from the city centre for most people.

“Only one in five people in Perth use shared and active transport to get to work,” she said.

“That’s because too many communities are being left in the lurch and unable to access services that meet their needs.

“With a step-up in investment from all levels of government, we can transform one of the world’s most car-dependent cities like Perth to give more people a better choice of fast, convenient and reliable clean transport options.”


According to a 2019 Infrastructure Australia report, every day in Perth private cars undertake 2.8 million trips of less than 5 kilometres.

In most cities, the difference in public transport access is significantly worse when comparing poorer and wealthier areas, with Perth’s poorer areas seeing 18 per cent less accessible public transport.

People living in high-growth areas in middle and outer suburbs are significantly under-served by public transport, despite being the places where it would have the biggest cost-of-living benefit.

Rayner said people travelling anywhere across Perth, at any time throughout the day, should be able to simply “turn up and go” from A to B.

She said while major city-shaping projects such as Metronet were important, sometimes simple investments like better buses and bike paths in the suburbs could make the biggest and fastest difference.

“State governments are in a prime position to deliver more frequent, convenient, and reliable public transport for their communities,” she said.

“Investment in public transport projects which support more people to travel between home, school, work, goods, services, and leisure activities is exactly what we need to see more of.

“Our analysis shows communities like Mandurah and Armadale clearly need better public transport links, so it’s great to see planning under way to deliver this.”

The Armadale line ground to a halt in November for a record-breaking 18-month shutdown, pushing 13,000 regular users onto the roads, as part of the state government’s biggest ever spend on infrastructure: $12 billion on expanding train lines to outer suburbia.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said at the time she envisaged a “turn up and go” rail network that reached more people with trains running every few minutes.

“We’re moving towards that “no timetable” service that if you go to this point, you know there will be a bus or train that rocks up in three to four minutes,” she said.

A state government spokeswoman said the long-running High-Capacity Signalling project would replace train control systems on Perth’s passenger rail network, allowing more trains to run more often.

“Once delivered, it will enable more train services to be delivered by reducing the headway between trains so they can safely operate closer together, resulting in an increase in the frequency of services,” she said.

The preferred proponent for the project was announced in April.


Climate councillor and public health physician Kate Charlesworth said clogged city roads were a familiar sight but we needed smarter, healthier transport solutions than simply building more roads, which added to congestion and climate pollution.

“Particulate pollution from cars adversely impacts our hearts and lungs, and pregnant women and children,” she said.

“It’s estimated to be responsible for more than 11,000 premature deaths in Australian adults.

“For the sake of our health, governments should step up investment that helps more people in Perth use shared and active transport more often.”

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Stuck in traffic: 60 per cent of Perth has no decent public transport (2024)


Does Perth have good public transport? ›

Perth has an extensive public transport system of buses, trains and ferries. To use the network, it's recommended that you purchase a Transperth SmartRider card. You can purchase a SmartRider card at Perth Airport, Transperth InfoCentres and SmartRider retail outlets.

Does Perth have free public transport? ›

Free Transit Zones

Perth city has a Free Transit Zone for buses and a SmartRider Free Transit Zone for trains.

How much is a public transport card for tourists in Perth? ›

You can buy a SmartRider at a Transperth InfoCentre or from one of the many Retail Sales Outlets across Perth. A Standard SmartRider costs $20, giving you $10 of travel. These can be purchased from ticket machines at train stations, ferry jetties, and from bus drivers.

How to get around Perth without a car? ›

Get around on Perth's public transport

It's easy to explore Perth (Boorloo), thanks to the city's well-connected public transport system. Transperth operates regular buses and trains between many of the city's spectacular attractions, or you can jump on a ferry to view Perth (Boorloo) from a new perspective.

Do you need to drive in Perth? ›

Getting around Perth by car

Driving in Perth is easy and safe, but you may find it's easier to use a combination of taxis, rideshares and public transport to get around town. If you do opt to rent a car at the airport or in the city, you may want to check whether your hotel charges a daily parking fee.

What is public transport called in Perth? ›

Transperth - providing public transport services for the Perth metro area.

Does Perth have a metro? ›

METRONET is the single largest investment in public transport that Perth has seen, with a vision of a well-connected Perth with more transport, housing and employment choices.

Are there tolls in Perth? ›

There are no toll roads in Western Australia, including within the city of Perth.

Is there Uber in Perth? ›

Taxi in Perth

Consider Uber as an alternative to taxis when getting around Perth. With Uber, you can trade flagging down cabs for requesting rides on demand, no matter the time of day. Request a ride from an airport to a hotel, head to a restaurant, or visit another place. The choice is yours.

Can you pay by card on Perth buses? ›

Ticketing. There are a few different options when it comes to buying public transport tickets. You can purchase a ticket onboard any bus with cash, or with cash or card from any train station. Your other (cheaper and much easier option) is to organise a prepaid Perth public transport card for yourself.

Is Perth a walkable city? ›

Perth, the capital of Western Australia, ranked as the third most walkable city in our study.

Which Australian city has the best public transport? ›

Sydney's public transport system has been ranked as the best in all of Australia. Sydney is a city known for its beaches and its beauty.

What is the best way to get around Perth city? ›

Buses are available right across Perth. Simply purchase a ticket from the driver or tag on and off using your SmartRider card. Once you're in the city, you can take advantage of the free CAT (Central Area Transit) buses that operate daily. They also operate for free in Fremantle and Joondalup.

How regularly does public transport run in Perth? ›

Services into and out of the city centre generally leave every 15 minutes but often run more frequently at busier times of the day. If you're travelling on the weekend, make sure to check your timetable carefully as these times do change outside of business hours.

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