The Perth metropolitan area has a reliable and inexpensive public transport network that makes navigating the city simple and efficient. This network is made up of buses, trains and ferries, though the ferry system is limited and isn't commonly used by commuters.
Because the public transportation network is not as extensive as those in larger Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, most expats find it is worth investing in a car to make getting around in Perth a bit easier.
Public transport in Perth
The public transport network in Perth is run by Transperth and uses an integrated ticket system. The Transperth network is divided into zones, and passengers buy tickets that are valid for a certain number of zones. The tickets can be used on any bus, train or ferry (or any combination of the three) to travel within the selected number of zones. There is a time limit for these tickets, depending on how many zones are crossed.
Commuters also have the option of purchasing a SmartRider card, which automatically calculates the fare and deducts it from preloaded credit. SmartRider cards are the best option for regular commuters, as they offer a generous discount compared to cash fares.
Perth has a small but reliable network of bus services that largely cater for those living in the suburbs. Some buses also run on the Central Area Transit (CAT) route – a route that is completely free of charge. The large air-conditioned buses, each a different colour, are marked with a distinctive black cat logo and operate every eight to 15 minutes on certain lines linked to major facilities and attractions. Expats will find that CAT buses are a great way to get around Perth.
Perth has an excellent rail network that caters for those living in outlying suburbs as well as those in the city. All trains stop at the central Perth railway station in the city centre on their way to or from the surrounding suburban stations. Train services are frequent, but during peak hours the stations can get crowded. SmartRider holders can travel for free on trains within the Free Transit Zone, but travellers without SmartRider cards will have to pay a fee.
Taxis in Perth
There are a number of local taxi services operating in Perth alongside big-name ride-hailing services such as Uber. To avoid long waits at the taxi rank, it's best to order a cab ahead of time via phone or online. While tipping taxi drivers in Perth is not customary, adding a small gratuity is always appreciated.
Cycling in Perth
Perth is a bicycle-friendly city with good infrastructure for cyclists. The city has a continually-expanding system of bicycle paths that includes paths that run alongside railway lines, shared paths running parallel to major roads, and scenic routes through green parks. Bicycles can usually be taken on Transperth trains, with some exceptions during peak hours. Bicycles are not permitted on buses, though.
Driving in Perth
Many expats, especially those with children, will find it useful to have a car in Perth. Most of Perth’s major freeways and highways are toll-free, unlike in many other Australian cities. Road conditions and infrastructure are good in Perth and surrounding areas. While the police are rarely seen patrolling the roads, expat drivers should be aware of manned mobile speed cameras operated by public servants.
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What do expats say about public transport in Perth?
"Perth has a great light rail system that runs from north-south and east-west into the Central Business District as well as an extensive bus system. I would say public transport in Perth is good by North American standards but far behind what you would see in Milan, Paris or London. Many people ride their bikes to work, as the weather is pretty much always good and bike paths are common." Read what Canadian expat Mike has to say about life in Perth.
"Public transport is great, always on time too. I use the train into the city once in a while when I need to go into town, as parking can be expensive." Portuguese expat Sami shares her thoughts on living in Perth.
Are you an expat living in Perth?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Perth. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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