Busways in Brisbane

Last updated

Langlands Park busway station Langlands Park busway station.jpg
Langlands Park busway station

Since the mid-1990s, a 27 kilometre bus rapid transit network has been developed in Brisbane, Australia. It comprises grade-separated bus-only corridors, complementing the Queensland Rail City network. Management of the busway network is the responsibility of TransLink as coordinator of South East Queensland's integrated public transport system.


The Brisbane busway network currently consists of the South East Busway, Northern Busway and the Eastern Busway and carried over 70 million passengers in 2011. [1]


PA Hospital busway station PA Hospital busway station.JPG
PA Hospital busway station

Stations on the Brisbane busway network comprise two semi glass-enclosed platforms, labelled platform 1 for services inbound to the Brisbane central business district and platform 2 for services outbound from the city, with the exception of Boggo Road busway station which are numbered 5 and 6 respectively to align with the parallel train platforms at Park Road railway station. [2]

Bus departure information is displayed at each station, with fixed LED signs suspended above each platform. These signs present four lines of scheduled bus departure times, with data provided by Brisbane City Council's RAPID system. Busway stations contain full disabled accessibility, passenger seating, 24-hour CCTV cameras and emergency help point buttons. Bicycle access and storage is provided at most stations, as are go card fare machines. Public art may be found in some busway stations, tunnels and walls. [2]


In peak hour, 294 buses per hour (1 every 12 seconds) [3] passed the busway network's busiest point (a section of the South East Busway north of Woolloongabba station) in 2007, a number estimated to be approaching the busway's absolute maximum vehicle capacity using the current bus fleet. [4] Given the maximum capacity of a majority of Transport for Brisbane buses is 62, any point along the busway network has a maximum theoretical passenger capacity of approximately 18,228 passengers per hour, since the entire network is built to the same specifications as the Woolloongabba stretch. [5]

Planning History

Northern Busway near Herston busway station Northern Busway, Herston, Brisbane 02.JPG
Northern Busway near Herston busway station

The South East Queensland Integrated Regional Transport Plan 1997 recommended a 75 km, 65-station network of busways to be constructed in Brisbane in order to provide a rapid public transport system to areas not served by the existing Queensland Rail City network. A busway system was recommended over an expansion of the Queensland Rail network given the existing strong role of buses in the regional transport system and its cost effectiveness compared with constructing rail lines. It was envisaged that feeder buses would serve both busway and rail stations, allowing buses to service low-density communities while bypassing peak hour traffic congestion by using the busways where appropriate. [6]

This recommendation built upon the Brisbane City Council's earlier Brisbane Busway Plan which was broadened into the SEQ Regional Busway Network plan. A network of five busways was planned which, inter alia, would improve the operation of the bus fleet while reducing maintenance and running costs. [6]

Construction History

Eleanor Schonell Bridge Eleanor Schonell Bridge, Brisbane2.jpg
Eleanor Schonell Bridge

In August 1996, the Queensland Government approved the South East Transit Project which began planning and constructing the South East Busway between the Brisbane central business district and Eight Mile Plains. The first section of the busway, between the CBD and Woolloongabba, opened in September 2000 to coincide with the first match of the Olympic Games Football Tournament at the Gabba. The second section between Woolloongabba and Eight Mile Plains opened on 30 April 2001 at a final cost of over $600 million. [7]

Planning for the construction of the Northern Busway began soon after the success of the South East Busway was demonstrated by increasing bus commuter statistics. The first section, from Roma Street in the CBD to Herston, was opened in February 2004 at a cost of $135 million. [8] The second section, originally named the Inner Northern Busway, was opened in May 2008 at a cost of $333 million and linked the Northern Busway to the South East Busway through tunnels under the Brisbane CBD and a new station underneath King George Square. [9] A further extension from Herston to Windsor, costing $198 million opened in June 2009. [10] In June 2012, construction of a further extension from Windsor to Kedron opened, costing $444 million. [11]

In 2007 construction began on the first stage of the Eastern Busway. The first stage was completed in August 2009, costing $366 million and involving the construction of the Eleanor Schonell Bridge and Australia's longest busway tunnel underneath the old Boggo Road Gaol. A 1 km extension of the Eastern Busway from Buranda to Main Avenue, Coorparoo commenced in August 2009 and was completed in August 2011 at a cost of $466 million. [12]

Future Construction

Cultural Centre busway station looking east Cultural Centre busway looking E.jpg
Cultural Centre busway station looking east

Plans exist to extend the Northern Busway from Kedron to Bracken Ridge and the Eastern Busway from Main Avenue, Coorparoo to Capalaba via Old Cleveland Road. [11] [13]

In 2011, the Brisbane City Council conducted a $2 million, 18-month feasibility study into constructing a bus-only bridge from the Cultural Centre busway station, linking to a busway tunnel travelling underneath the CBD and ending in Fortitude Valley. This was to relieve bus congestion on the CBD streets and the Victoria Bridge (caused by traffic lights operating at both ends of the bridge, seriously inhibiting the clearance of buses from the Cultural Centre busway station in peak hour. [14]

Significance and Criticism

Brisbane's network of busways is significant because it is the largest scale adoption of busways as a form of rapid public transport in Australia. Patronage numbers have grown over the busways' 12-year existence from carrying 0 to 70 million passengers annually, reducing the growth in traffic congestion and air pollution and minimising the need for new vehicular routes into the city along the busway corridors. [2]

Brisbane's busways were designed to allow buses to service low-density suburbs and bypass peak hour congestion on major roads, linking with the rail network to improve public transport connectivity. This allows a balance between the convenience of localised bus services with the efficiency of medium haul commuter transport to the city's activity centres in a highly radial city like Brisbane. [15]

However, it can be argued that a system designed like this increases the likelihood of dead running and underuse of available capacity. Dead running occurs on any highly peak-oriented radial bus or rail system where additional peak direction buses are added into the schedule or operated as "rocket" express routes. After or before their run in the peak direction the buses generally run empty, whether to head out for another run, back to the depot or to be positioned prior to starting another run (such as, in the afternoon peak). On the busways many of these dead running vehicles are perceived to be underused and to contribute to congestion. The counterargument to this is that this issue is related more to the dominance of the CBD as the largest employment centre within the region and that to change this requires a shift to forced interchanging for many people, likely reducing the attractiveness of the service. It is also true that these routes generally, but not always, bypass the most congested sections of the busway network by using alternative approaches to the city such as the Captain Cook Bridge or Water Street. The perceived under-use of available capacity is where less than full services travel on the busway. It is argued that this is caused by low patronage on the off-busway portion of many suburban routes. This has been argued to lead to busway route duplication where these services then enter a busway corridor and continue on into the inner city without being full, and to increased busway vehicular congestion and unnecessary air pollution created from vehicle emissions without a correspondingly high number of passengers. [16] The counterargument to this is that by running these buses on the busway they provide additional available capacity to the often overcrowded spine services and that that forced interchange onto overcrowded spine services would reduce the attractiveness of bus as an travel option.

The decision not to connect the Legacy Way tunnel to the Northern Busway to provide for shorter travel times from the western suburbs to the city (via the Inner City Bypass) was also criticised as short-sighted given the lack of planned busway construction to those suburbs. [17]


Transport for Brisbane operate services across the entire network, while Clarks Logan City Bus Service operate services along the full length of the South East Busway (apart from Queen Street Mall bus station and Woolloongabba busway station) and Mt Gravatt Bus Service and Transdev Queensland services use the southern part of the South East Busway.

Related Research Articles

Rush hour

A rush hour or peak hour is a part of the day during which traffic congestion on roads and crowding on public transport is at its highest. Normally, this happens twice every weekday; once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening, the times during which the most people commute. The term is often used for a period of peak congestion that may last for more than one hour.

Airport railway line, Brisbane

Airtrain is the privately owned commuter railway line that extends 13.0 km (8.1 mi) northeast from Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, to Brisbane Airport (BNE) at both its separate International and Domestic terminals. It was opened in 2001.

Transport for Brisbane Public transport division of the Brisbane City Council

Transport for Brisbane is an organisational division of the Brisbane City Council, responsible through its related Council Committee for providing policy and advice to Brisbane City Council, and for delivering various public transport services across the City of Brisbane. The division does this as part of an agreement with TransLink, an agency of the Department of Transport and Main Roads that operates public transport across South East Queensland.

South East Busway

The South East Busway is a grade separated bus-only road running south from the Brisbane central business district to Eight Mile Plains in Queensland, Australia. The busway was completed to Woolloongabba in September 2000 and to Eight Mile Plains in April 2001. An extension of the busway to School Road at Rochedale was completed in 2014.

The Northern Busway is a bus-only road running north from the Brisbane central business district to the Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital in Queensland, Australia. The first section of the busway opened on 23 February 2004 with one station at QUT Kelvin Grove. In December 2005, Normanby and Herston stations opened.

Britomart Transport Centre

Britomart Transport Centre is the public transport hub in the central business district of Auckland, New Zealand, and the northern terminus of the North Island Main Trunk railway line. It combines a railway station in a former Edwardian post office, extended with expansive post-modernist architectural elements, with a bus interchange. It is at the foot of Queen Street, the main commercial thoroughfare of Auckland city centre, with the main ferry terminal just across Quay Street.

Cultural Centre busway station

Cultural Centre busway station is located in Brisbane, Australia serving the South Bank precinct. It is located directly south of Victoria Bridge and close to South Brisbane railway station. It opened on 23 October 2000 when the South East Busway opened to Woolloongabba.

King George Square busway station

King George Square busway station is located in Brisbane, Australia serving the Brisbane central business district. It is located beneath King George Square and marks the start of the Northern Busway. The station has twelve stops on two platforms; access to these platforms is via an underground concourse which can be accessed from Ann Street or Adelaide Street. Passengers wait behind automatic doors on the stop that is assigned to their bus. It opened on 19 May 2008.

Woolloongabba busway station

Woolloongabba busway station is located in Brisbane, Australia serving the suburb of Woolloongabba. It opened on 13 September 2000 when the first section of the South East Busway opened from Melbourne Street, South Brisbane to coincide with the start of the 2000 Olympic football tournament, for which some matches were held in Brisbane. It initially opened for outbound services only, with inbound services commencing on 23 October 2000.

Upper Mount Gravatt busway station

Upper Mount Gravatt busway station is located in Brisbane, Australia serving the suburb of Upper Mount Gravatt. It opened on 30 April 2001 when the South East Busway was extended from Woolloongabba to Eight Mile Plains.

TransApex is a road transport plan devised by Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman in the early 2000s to connect existing motorways and major arterial roads with new transport links and divert cross-city traffic out of the Brisbane CBD. The plan is currently being delivered by Brisbane City Council at an estimated total cost of over $10 billion across five stages. According to the Brisbane City Council website, TransApex is "the biggest urban road project proposed in Australia".

Northern Busway, Auckland

The Northern Busway is a segregated busway that runs along the eastern side of the Northern Motorway, part of State Highway 1, in the north of Auckland, New Zealand, linking the North Shore with the northern end of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. The busway consists of two-way lanes running between Constellation Station and Akoranga Station, and from Akoranga Station a southbound-only lane that joins the harbour bridge approaches just south of the Onewa Road on-ramp system.

Transport in Brisbane

Transport in Brisbane, the capital and largest city of Queensland, Australia, is provided by road, rail, river and bay ferries, footpaths, bikepaths, sea and air.

Transport on the Gold Coast, Queensland

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 in Auckland

Public transport in Auckland, the largest metropolitan area of New Zealand, consists of three modes: bus, train and ferry. Services are coordinated by Auckland Transport under the AT Metro brand. Britomart Transport Centre is the main transport hub.

Bus transport in Queensland

In Queensland, Australia, public bus services are coordinated by the Queensland Government's Department of Transport and Main Roads and provided by over 1000 operators. The coordination of public bus transport generally falls under three schemes: TransLink services, QConnect services and the remaining rural/regional school services. Some operators also provide entirely private bus services in Queensland which are not subject to the same route and ticketing regulation as the public route providers, or segments thereof, are.

Rail network in South East Queensland

Queensland Rail operates ten suburban lines and three interurban lines. Centring in the Brisbane City, it extends as far as Gympie in the north, Varsity Lakes in the south, Rosewood in the west, and Cleveland in the east to Moreton Bay.

Cross River Rail is an underground railway project through central Brisbane, which is currently under construction. Cross River Rail will see the development of a new rail line underneath Brisbane River, and the redevelopment of a number of stations in the Brisbane central business district. The business case for the project was released in August 2017, with work officially beginning in September. The project replaces the planned 2013 BaT Tunnel, which in turn had replaced the original 2010 Cross River Rail proposal.

The BaT project was a proposed north-south tunnel that would provide bus and rail modes of transportation together in an intuitive design by combining a new underground rail line and busway in a single, double-decked, 15m-wide tunnel beneath the Brisbane River and Brisbane central business district. The tunnel was to have three underground stations at Woolloongabba, George Street and Roma Street with Dutton Park upgraded.

Brisbane Metro is a future high-frequency bus rapid transit system, servicing Brisbane, Australia. It will consist of two routes that will each service the Brisbane central business district every three minutes during peak times, transporting up to 3,000 passengers per hour in each direction.


  1. "Busway Operations Centre" Archived 9 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine Brisbane Metropolitan Transport Management Centre Retrieved 7 August 2012
  2. "Busway faces gridlock" The Courier-Mail 30 September 2007
  3. Brisbane City Council. "Lord Mayor's Taskforce Brisbane:Mass Transit Investigation" Archived 9 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine 2007 page 41
  4. Otto, Patrick. "Brisbane Transport Buses" Retrieved 28 July 2012
  5. 1 2 Queensland Government, Department of Transport and Main Roads. Integrated Regional Transport Plan for South East Queensland (IRTP) 1997 Archived 16 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine page 39 Retrieved 28 July 2012
  6. "South East Transit Project" Archived 27 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine Harrison Group Queensland Retrieved 28 July 2012
  7. Queensland Government, Department of Premier and Cabinet. "Beattie opens new $135 million busway" Retrieved 28 July 2012
  8. Queensland Government, Department of Premier and Cabinet. "Commuters save travel time as INB officially opens". Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  9. Australian Institute of Project Management. "Northern Busway Royal Children's Hospital to Windsor" Archived 22 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine . 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  10. 1 2 Queensland Government, Department of Transport and Main Roads. "Busways". Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  11. Ironside, Robyn. The Courier Mail (Queensland). 27 August 2011. "Brisbane's Eastern Busway set to open after two years of construction" Retrieved 7 August 2012
  12. "Brisbane's Northern Busway final stage may be scrapped says Scott Emerson" The Courier-Mail 13 June 2012
  13. "Council wants to drive buses underground to keep them out of Brisbane CBD" Brisbane Times 6 December 2011
  14. "Busway Solutions to meet Rapid Urban Growth" [ permanent dead link ] Sinclair Knight Merz Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  15. Moore, Tony. Brisbane Times. 2 December 2011. "Call to get half-full buses off city bridge". Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  16. Sherine Conyers. Westside News, Quest Newspapers (Queensland). 3 April 2012. "Longer trips for bus commuters after Legacy Way bus link goes begging". Retrieved 8 August 2012.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Busways in Brisbane at Wikimedia Commons