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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 system is limited and isn't commonly used by expats.
Because the public transportation network is not as extensive as those encountered 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, 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. 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 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 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. To avoid possibly 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 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 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 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.