The Perth metropolitan area has a reliable and inexpensive public transport network which makes getting around the city simple. This network is made up of buses, trains and ferries (though the ferry network is very small and of limited use).
Because the public transportation network is not as extensive as those that one would find in larger Australian cities like 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, which has an integrated ticket system. The Transperth network is divided into zones – passengers wishing to use the network buy a ticket valid for a certain number of zones. The ticket can then 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, the length of which depends on how many zones are to be crossed.
Commuters also have the option of purchasing a SmartRider card, which automatically calculates the fare and deducts it from preloaded credit. If planning to use the service frequently, SmartRider cards are the best option as they offer a generous discount compared to cash fares.
Perth has a small but reliable network of bus services that cater for those living in the suburbs and run between bus and train stations.
There are also buses that run on the Central Area Transit (CAT) route. Travel on the CAT route is free of charge for all commuters. 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 routes linked to major facilities and attractions. Expats will find that CAT buses are a great way to get around Perth.
Perth has a great rail network which caters for those living in outlying suburban areas 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 Perth station can get very busy.
SmartRider holders can travel for free on trains within the Free Transit Zone, but travellers without SmartRider cards will have to pay a fee to travel on trains within this area.
Taxis in Perth
There are a number of local taxi services operating in Perth, alongside big-name companies such as Uber.
Fares for local taxis are regulated by the state government and all local companies charge the same rate, though travellers should note that fares are higher in the evenings and on weekends.
Expats catching a taxi in the entertainment precinct after a night out should be aware that one might end up waiting at a taxi rank for up to two hours on a busy evening, so it's best to order one specifically via phone or the internet. If unable to order a taxi and faced with waiting for one to come along, it is far safer to catch a taxi from a secure rank than to hail one right outside a club or bar.
While tipping taxi drivers in Perth is not customary, adding a small gratuity is always appreciated.
Cycling in Perth
Perth is a cycle-friendly city and has good infrastructure for cyclists. Perth’s bicycle network has a metro-wide system of bicycle paths and is growing continuously.
The facilities available to cyclists in Perth include bicycle paths that run alongside railway lines, shared paths running parallel to major roads, and scenic routes through green parks.
Bicycles can be taken on Transperth trains, except for during peak hours – however, they cannot be brought onto Transperth buses.
Driving in Perth
Many expats, especially those with families, 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 the surrounding areas.
While the police are rarely seen out patrolling the roads of Perth, expat drivers should be aware of manned mobile speed cameras operated by public servants, which are prevalent.