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Transport on the Gold Coast, Queensland facts for kids

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Gold Coast traffic
Rush hour traffic on the Gold Coast.

The Gold Coast is the largest regional city and fastest growing city in Australia. As a result, the Gold Coast has a wide range of public and private transport options from cars and bikes to buses, heavy rail and light rail. The car is the dominant mode of transport in the city with an extensive arterial road network that connects the standard residential streets with major suburbs and motorways.

Public Transport on the Gold Coast is managed by the Queensland Government's Department of Transport and Main Roads, while Translink coordinates the Transport network in South East Queensland.


The Gold Coast has extensive paths one of which is called the Gold Coast Oceanway which is a 36 kilometres (22 mi) network of pathways along the coastline. Locals residents and visitors alike often walk to the beach, shops or anywhere nearby, particularly so in areas of high-density living.

The Gold Coast hinterland also embraces the World Heritage listed Lamington National Park, established in 1915, with over 160 kilometres (99 mi) of graded walking tracks maintained by the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service. The development of the national park tracks and accommodation at Binna Burra owe a great deal to the work of Romeo Lahey and Arthur Groom in the 1920s and 1930s.

Behaviour change

Active travel is the brand for Gold Coast behaviour change programs for encouraging sustainable transport. Enjoy the way you move is the tag line that rewards those already walking and cycling and encourages reflection on behaviour change for anyone who doesn't enjoy traffic jams.


The car is the dominant mode of transport for Gold Coast residents. The Pacific Motorway (M1) is a motorway connecting the Gold Coast with Brisbane. The Gold Coast Highway runs close to the coast for most of its route and through the centres of Southport, Surfers Paradise, Burleigh Heads and Currumbin. Smith Street Motorway is a 5.7 km route connecting Southport with the Pacific Mortorway. There are numerous other main arterial roads connecting major suburbs throughout the city.

Public Transportation

Gold Coast's public transport system consists of heavy rail, buses and light rail.

TransLink is a division of the Department of Transport and Main Roads that manages the planning, co-ordination, integrated ticketing and zoning for public transport services covering Brisbane and the rest of South East Queensland. It contracts Queensland Rail, Surfside Buslines and Keolis Downer (Gold Coast light rail operator) to operate public transport services in allocated operating areas for a negotiated price, and keeps all fare receipts. Passengers pay common fares, based on the number of zones travelled through, on all the public transport modes covered including trains, buses and light rail, irrespective of who operates the service. In 2007, TransLink introduced the go card smartcard-based ticketing system. Paper tickets are still available, but travel using the go card costs significantly less than using a paper ticket.

Rail services are operated by Queensland Rail which provides Citytrain services on the Gold Coast Railway line from the southern terminus in Varsity Lakes on the Gold Coast to Brisbane Airport via Brisbane City. Light Rail services are operated by Keolis Downer (branded as G:link) which operate a single 20 kilometre line from Broadbeach South to Helensvale via the key activity precincts of Surfers Paradise and Southport. Surfside Buslines under contract from Translink provides an extensive bus network of 56 bus routes that includes high frequency and suburban services.

After some years of decline, the Gold Coast public transport system is being revitalised and finding greater patronage, with significant investment in light rail construction and extensions, a completely reorganised and simplified bus network.


Surfside 783 in Burleigh Heads
Translink liveried Surfside Buslines bus in Burleigh Heads.

Surfside Buslines operates its Queensland services under the Translink integrated public transport scheme. Translink is responsible for all timetabling and ticketing while Surfside provides the bus service, covering the majority of the city.

Buses generally operate on a 05:00 to midnight timetable throughout the week, with some Friday and Saturday night 24-hour services.


Heavy Rail

700 Series EMU for Queensland Rail
700 Series NGR operating on the Queensland Rail Citytrain network.

Due to the city's close proximity to Brisbane it is included in Brisbane's CityTrain network with an interurban Gold Coast railway line commencing in Central station and traveling southbound running express between Park Road and Beenleigh stations stopping only at Altandi and Loganlea. After departing from Beenleigh the line stops at all Gold Coast stations largely running adjacent to the Pacific Motorway (M1) before terminating in Gold Coast suburb of Varsity Lakes. It takes approximately 100 minutes to travel from Central railway station in the Brisbane Central Business District to Varsity Lakes railway station. Much of the line was built as single track in the 1990s but has gradually been duplicated with the last section of duplication completed in 2017.

Light Rail

FC 2 test, surfers paradise boulevard, March 2014
A Bombardier Flexity 2 on Surfers Paradise Boulevard, March 2014

The Gold Coast is one of the fastest-growing cities in Australia with travel demands exceeding population growth. In order to tackle congestion effectively, there is a need to squeeze much more capacity from existing corridors. The G:link is a 20 km light rail system opened in 2014 operating from Broadbeach South to Helensvale. The G:link provides the suburbs of Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise, Main Beach, Southport, Parkwood and Helensvale with a modern and high frequency transport system. The light rail operates at a high frequency with services every 8 minutes in peak times and 15 minutes in off-peak during weekdays and every 10 minutes on the weekends. The system is expected to encourage visitors and residents to use public transport to reduce major traffic congestion and pollution problems.

Gold Coast City Council is planning for a third stage of the line that would extend south from connecting to Burleigh Heads. The proposed 6.6 kilometre southern extension of the light rail line will continue southbound from the existing Broadbeach South station to Burleigh Heads with eight new light rail stations with Burleigh Heads being the new southern terminus for the line. The exact location and names of the new stations will be released in late 2018 with the Detailed Business Case. It is estimated that the Burleigh Heads extension will cost approximately $670 million with construction commencing in 2020 and taking three years to complete.

Major Transport Hubs

There are several major transport hubs on the Gold Coast that offer connecting services to the Light Rail, Bus and Heavy Rail network.

Major transport hubs include;

  • Tweed Mall Shopping centre, located in adjacent town of Tweed Heads in New South Wales offers connecting bus services to Surfside Buslines New South Wales services.
  • Varsity Lakes railway station, offers connecting services to the Gold Coast railway line and bus connections to southern suburbs.
  • Broadbeach South bus and light rail interchange, offers connecting G:link light rail services and bus connections to western and southern suburbs.
  • Robina Railway station, offers connecting train and bus services to Eastern suburbs.
  • Nerang Railway station, offers connecting train and bus services to Eastern suburbs
  • Southport bus and light rail interchange, provides a G:link and bus interchange for the Gold Coast Central Business District.
  • Helensvale Light and Heavy Rail Interchange, provides Queensland's first tri-model interchange, providing connecting services to the train, bus and light rail network.
  • Ormeau railway station, provides connecting bus services to northern Gold Coast suburbs as well the City of Logan which forms part of the Greater Brisbane Metropolitan area.

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