The public transport system in Adelaide is divided into 3 parts.
- Buses plus the O-Bahn system
Buying Tickets on Adelaide Buses, Trams and Train system
To buy a ticket for the tram, train or bus system (you use the same tickets for all systems) you need to buy it from a newsagent where you see the Adelaide Metro sign or at the Adelaide Train Station.
You can also buy a single ticket on buses but quite often drivers will have limited amounts of change.
On Adelaide trams and on the O-Bahn system you are able to pay for your fare with your credit or debit card using tap and pay which means you could use tap and pay on your phone or any device you can link to your credit or debit card.
The Metro Pass that is most useful to visitors is a 3 day Metro Card – cost at time of writing $25 but increases every year. There is also a one day ticket which costs $10.40. You will probably only need this if you are planning to travel outside the CBD area. If you are staying longer, 14 day and 28 day options are available. This allows unlimited travel on all tram, buses and trains in the metro area.
What is an O-Bahn System?
The O-Bahn is a type of guided bus rapid transit (BRT) system that is used in the city of Adelaide, Australia. It is named after the city’s O-Bahn Busway, which was the first of its kind in the world when it was built in 1986. The O-Bahn system uses specialised buses that are equipped with guided wheels that run on concrete tracks, allowing the buses to operate more efficiently and with less congestion than traditional buses. The O-Bahn system has been successful in reducing traffic congestion and improving public transportation in Adelaide.
The tram system is the most likely public transport you will use in Adelaide. This is because it is used in the CBD area and connects areas that travellers will want to go.
The first thing you need to know about the tram system is, it’s free if you do not go past the stop -South Terrace on the Glenelg line. So if you want to go to Glenelg from the city or any of the southern suburbs you will need to buy a ticket.
There are 2 tramlines, one line starts at the Entertainment Centre in Hindmarsh and goes through the city and the suburbs and terminates in Glenelg. The second line also starts at the Entertainment Centre and travels through the city along North Tce and continues along North Tce and terminates at the Botanical Gardens. If you are travelling from Glenelg or the south of the city and want to go to the Botanic Gardens you need to swap trams at Adelaide Railway Station stop.
Here is a map of the tram system in Adelaide.
Its fairly unlikely you will use the buses that much, however it is worth knowing that there is a bus that goes to the Adelaide International Airport that you can pick up on Grenfell and Currie Streets. The bus number is either J1 or J2 (subject to change) so check beforehand.
The other 2 places you may want to go that are only served by buses is St Kilda Tramway Museum Bus 401 from the city. Mount Lofty Botanical Gardens you need to take the bus to Crafers and then another bus to the gardens (only 4 buses per day). Make sure you validate your ticket on the machine when you enter.
There is also an O-Bahn service into the north eastern suburbs that finishes at Tea Tree Plaza Shopping Centre.
Here is a link to the bus timetables
There are 6 different lines and there are only limited places that are of interest to travellers.
Outer Harbour Line
This line will take you to the historic area of Port Adelaide and the line continues to Outer Harbour where cruise ships dock. You can also stop at Semaphore if you don’t mind walking to the beach.
Grange line will take you to Grange Beach which is a very nice swimming beach
Services the northern suburbs
Services Blackwood and Belair
You can get to a number of the southern beaches the best being Brighton Beach
Here is a route map for Adelaide Train system
The Adelaide Parklands Rail Terminal at Keswick is the starting point for long-distance interstate travel. There are two major lines that operate from the station, The Ghan and Indian – Pacific. The Ghan connects Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs. Indian-Pacific connects Adelaide to Sydney and Perth and is one of the rare real transcontinental train lines in the world. Whether you are arriving to or leaving Adelaide, make sure to book your seat. These trains operate twice a week and you need to book in advance.
The Overland Train links Adelaide with Melbourne and at the time of writing is at risk of being discontinued so you will need to further research whether this service is still available.
From the city go to Currie Street stop Y2 and transfer to 167 line, which will take you to Richmond Road stop A1. From there it’s a short walk to Adelaide Parklands Rail Terminal but to be honest a taxi or Uber is a better option especially with luggage.
Airport Transfers and Public Transport to Adelaide International Airport
Public transport to and from Adelaide airport is run by Adelaide Metro, a company owned by the city of Adelaide’s Public transport division. It operates large number of buses, trams and trains throughout the city and is the largest public transport company in South Australia.
While it may not be the most reliable transport company in the world, Adelaide Metro still provides a very valuable service to the city. Buses are relatively new and clean and unlike shuttle buses, they have priorities on many intersections, with dedicated bus lanes and bus only lights at many traffic lights.
Their dedicated airport lines are called JetLine. There are six lines that connect airport to different points in Adelaide: J1, J1a, J1x, J2, J7 and J8. Not all buses are equipped with upright rack for luggage.
- J1a is a shorter version of J1 that goes from City to Airport.
- J1x is the only line at the moment equipped with double decker buses designed for airport passengers, with luggage racks on lower deck. It is part of newly introduced service called JetExpress that started in November of 2014. This is an express line and is the fastest bus line from airport to the city. It is designed to cater to airport travellers by taking them to key city locations and hotels. JetExpress line runs hourly on weekdays during daytime. J1x starts at Adelaide Airport and goes to City via Grote Street, Wakefield Street, Pulteney Street, North Terrace and Sir Donald Bradman Drive .
- J2 is another line that connects Harbour Town Centre Interchange to City via West Beach, Adelaide Airport and Sir Donald Bradman Drive.
- J7 and J8 both connect West Lakes Centre Interchange to Marion Centre Interchange but on different routes. J7 goes via Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide Airport and Marion Road, while J8 goes via Torrens Road, Arndale Centre Interchange, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide Airport and Marion Road.
Transport from Adelaide Airport to the city and vice versa is possible with shuttle bus service. There are two companies that offer shuttle service on the airport, Northern Flyer and Adelaide Airport Flyer. Both companies offer door to door service, with mandatory reservations. Bookings can be made by phone or online through their sites.
Of course your other option is to get a taxi, Uber etc etc that will get you a door to door service at a reasonable price.