Go card

Last updated

go card
The go card logo
Location South East Queensland, Australia
Operator Cubic Corporation
Manager TransLink
Auto rechargeYes
  • Online
  • Telephone
  • Newsagents / Convenience Stores
  • Train Stations
  • Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs)
Website www.translink.com.au/go

The go card is an electronic smartcard ticketing system developed by Cubic Corporation, which is currently used on the TransLink public transport network in South East Queensland. To use the go card, users hold the card less than 10 cm away from the reader to "touch on" before starting a journey, and must do the same to "touch off" the service at the end of the journey. The cost of each journey is deducted from the go card balance.


The Queensland Government awarded the $134 million contract to design, build, operate and maintain the go card system to Cubic Corporation in July 2003. In July 2006, TransLink signed up around 1,000 volunteers to trial the new smartcard system in the Redcliffe area. The go card was launched throughout Brisbane in February 2008, the go card was available at selected retail stores and Queensland Rail stations. It could also be accessed by phone or online. [1] [2] [3]


The go card was a major part of the Queensland Government's integrated ticketing system to improve the efficiency and convenience of public transport. In July 2003, the Queensland Government awarded the $134 million contract to design, build, operate and maintain the go card system to Cubic Corporation. [1] [4]

Trial Period

Following the development of the go card, in July 2006, TransLink signed up around 1,000 volunteers to test out the new smartcard system in the Redcliffe area. TransLink installed the new smartcard equipment in Hornibrook Bus Lines and later Brisbane Transport buses. Sunbus' bus fleet also underwent pre-wiring so onboard equipment could be installed later. TransLink also installed new smartcard fare machines at Petrie, Sandgate, Brunswick Street, Central and Roma Street stations. [2] [3]


The go card was launched throughout Brisbane in February 2008. The system covers an area of 10,000 km2 [5] and is available on 2,200 buses; at 153 train stations, 24 ferry wharves and 19 light rail stops. [6]

The system continues to grow, with Cubic supplying ticketing equipment for the Gold Coast light rail system; [7] the new rail line and stations at Springfield in Brisbane; [8] and the extension of the ferry service to the Southern Moreton Bay Islands. [9]

The go card can be purchased and topped up at retail stores and Queensland rail stations. [10] It can also be accessed by phone or online. During the launch, TransLink had staff on hand at rail stations and major bus interchanges to talk to passengers about go card and answer any questions. [11]

To encourage the use of the go card, from 4 August 2008 all go card trips received a minimum 20% discount off paper tickets. Regular users who travel more than 10 journeys within a week received an additional discount of 50% off the price of any extra journeys. [12]

On 4 January 2010, to encourage the use of the go cards during 2010, TransLink gave away 400,000 free go cards loaded with $10 credit. go cards users also received off-peak discounts and automatic top-up. [13]

Originally, TransLink had proposed to scrap paper-based ticketing entirely, but following controversy over this proposal single-trip paper tickets were retained, whilst other paper ticket formats (weekly, monthly, daily and off-peak) were abolished. Apart from frequent user schemes, periodic ticketing formats have not been introduced for go card since its inception. [14]

As a further incentive, fare restructuring saw go card users offered substantial discounts in single fares over the price of paper tickets. In November 2015, Cubic was awarded a three-year contract extension until 2019. [15]


In 2012, TransLink launched a new SEEQ Card targeting tourists. The SEEQ Card operates similarly to the go card, but includes:

Go Explore Card

In 2014, TransLink launched the go explore card – Australia's first ever limited-use tourist smartcard – to coincide with the official opening of the $1.2 billion Gold Coast light rail system. [16]

Developed to make travel easier for tourists and visitors to the Gold Coast, the go explore card uses the same technology as the go card and works with the ticketing equipment installed at the 16 new light rail stations, 40 Add Vending Machines and 138 standalone validators.

The go explore card offers visitors unlimited travel on any TransLink bus or light rail service on the Gold Coast for just $10 a day and $5 for children. [17] It can be reloaded with up to 8-day passes at any one time.

Go Access Vision Impaired Travel Pass (VITP)

In 2015, TransLink launched a new dual purpose travel card for people with visual impairement. [18]

Developed in consultation with Vision Australia and Guide Dogs Queensland, the go access VITP uses smartcard technology to open fare gates at train stations without the assistance of a station staff member and has raised tactile elements to help vision-impaired customers identify the card. [19]

VITP holders are entitled to free travel across all TransLink services, qconnect buses in regional Queensland and on other services provided by participating interstate transport operators. [20]

Go Access Corporate Events Card

In 2016, TransLink introduced the go access Corporate Events Card. The go access Corporate Events card is a ticketing solution for conference and event organisers to provide easy travel for delegates around South East Queensland, via the TransLink network. [21] For $12, the card allows unlimited travel for three days across bus, train, ferry and tram services. [22]


Fare Types

A go card reader Translink Go Card Reader.jpg
A go card reader

The go card is available in Adult, Child, Concession and Seniors fare types:

Fare Calculation

When purchasing a go card, a refundable deposit is applied, on top of the starting balance. The deposit allows users to finish their journey even when they have insufficient funds on the go card, although the go card has to have a positive balance at the start of the journey.

To use the go card, users need to hold their card less than 10 cm away from the reader to "touch on" and do the same to "touch off" at the end of each journey or segment travelled (This includes switching between Train and Light Rail at Helensvale Station).

For inter-modal travel, TransLink allows go card users to transfer between services (up to 3 times and within 3 and a half hours) without being regarded as having started a new journey.

The fare is calculated and deducted from the go card balance each time the user touches off, based on the number of zones travelled through since the first segment of the journey. On a transfer segment, the user is only charged the difference between the amount already charged and the total fare for the journey.

Users who do not "touch off" are charged a fixed amount which varies depending on the mode of travel. In the event of inadvertent error, technical faults or other excusable circumstances, penalty fares can be adjusted via the TransLink website (for registered go cards) or telephone call centre.

Originally there were 23 zones radiating out from the Brisbane central business district. [23] On 19 December 2016, these were consolidated into eight zones. [24] [25]


Peak and off-peak is used by TransLink to encourage passengers to travel during non-busy hours. TransLink does this by offering discounts to passengers for travelling during off-peak hours. Peak is from 06:00 to 08:30 and 15:30 to 19:00 weekdays, except public holidays, while off-peak is from 08:30 to 15:30 and after 19:00 weekdays until 06:00 the following day and all day weekends and gazetted public holidays. To qualify for off-peak, the journey or segment must be commenced during the off-peak period. If a journey straddles the peak and off-peak periods, the system calculates the fare for the segment travelled using the touch on time period for the calculation.

Under the current frequent user scheme, go card users are able to travel at 50% after completing eight journeys in a week (Monday through to Sunday). [26] The previous frequent user scheme offered free trips after nine trips travelled in a given week.


Sale and Top-up Points

The go card is available for purchase at more than 680 locations, with top up services for existing go cards available at 1600 south-East Queensland locations. These locations include staffed Queensland Rail Station ticket offices, fare machines at busways, key bus interchanges, train stations and tram stations, 7 Eleven stores and on board Brisbane CityCats and CityFerries. [27] Selected bus operators are also able to top-up cards on board, although this is not implemented on services operated by Brisbane Transport.

In 2014, TransLink was able to expand the go card retail network, using Cubic's NextLink technology. The Transport and Main Roads innovative technological solution, saw go card services integrated with point-of-sale equipment at all 7-Eleven convenience and fuel outlets. [28] This made an additional 75 locations available to sell, top up and expiry change services for go card and go explore. [29] .

Users who register their go card online have access to an online portal to enable them to perform automatic and manual top-ups via credit card, report fare issues, maintain their details and download transaction histories. Further, the balance of registered cards can be permanently transferred to another card and the account balance can be frozen if the go card is reported as lost or stolen. TransLink also operates a phone hotline for customer service, card top-ups and enquiries.

Card Readers

A Go Card Reader GoCard Reader.jpeg
A Go Card Reader

Card readers are installed on each bus and ferry operating within the TransLink network. On the Queensland Rail network, card readers are located at each train station, rather than on each train and the same applies to the G:Link tram network located on the Gold Coast which have card readers located at each tram station.

Authorised Officers are equipped with portable card readers.

Contactless Payments

The State Government is considering implementing contactless payment technology [30] similar to Transport for London's system.

CityCycle Scheme integration

In March 2012, the then opposition transport spokesman, Scott Emerson, proposed that a Liberal National Party government if elected would consider integrating go cards with the Brisbane City Council/JCDecaux-operated CityCycle bicycle hire scheme. A similar proposal had previously been rejected by the incumbent Labor government in January 2012. [31] From November 2012, CityCycle subscribers can link a go card account to a CityCycle account, which also operates on a smart-card based system. [32] [33] However, the current integration does not yet allow bicycle hire charges to be deducted from the go card account balance.



TransLink publishes reporting of the usage and uptake of go card in its annual reports. [34]

go card is the most widely used ticketing product on the TransLink network, representing 87% of all trips taken in the quarter ended June 2016. [35]


In 2008, security experts found the cloning of a go card is possible - though no verified instances have yet been discovered, which allow people to clone and use other people's go cards. TransLink has indicated that systems exist to detect fraudulent activity and reject cloned cards, however no details about these systems are available. [36]

In January 2010, in a move to encourage the use of the go card, TransLink changed the fare structure by increasing the price of paper tickets to make the go card cheaper than paper tickets. In some cases the increase was as much as 40%. [37] Although more users were using the go card than before, the move created another issue given the limited number of train stations selling the go card at the time. Some users could not buy the go card and had to continue to use paper tickets with higher fares. In response, TransLink confirmed more stations would begin selling the go card. [38]

TransLink fares continued a trend of "planned" increases by a factor of 15% per year in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 calendar years, sparking concerns about affordability. [39] [40] From 2013 the "planned" increase halved to 7.5%. Currently, go card fares are 30% cheaper than paper-based ticket pricing. [41]

In March 2010, a loophole was discovered that allowed go card users to avoid fares on buses by "touching off" at the back door after touching on at the first door, TransLink confirmed that doing this would waive the fare.

See also

Related Research Articles

Metcard Former public transport ticketing system in Melbourne, Australia

Metcard was the brand name of an integrated ticketing system used to access public transport in Melbourne, Australia. It was a universal ticket which allowed users to ride on the city's Metlink and Metropolitan Transit Authority (Victoria) network, consisting of suburban trains, trams, and buses, including the NightRider network. The Metcard was a credit card-sized ticket made out of cardboard and used a magnetic strip to store fare data. Metcard was operated by OneLink Transit Systems under a contract with the Government of Victoria which was managed by the Transport Ticketing Authority.

Oyster card

The Oyster card is a payment method for public transport in London in the United Kingdom. A standard Oyster card is a blue credit-card-sized stored-value contact-less smart-card. It is promoted by Transport for London and can be used on travel modes across London including London Underground, London Buses, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, Tramlink, some river boat services, and most National Rail services within the London fare zones. Since its introduction in June 2003, more than 86 million cards have been used.

Luas Light rail system in Dublin, Ireland

Luas is a tram/light rail system in Dublin, Ireland. There are two main lines: the Green Line, which began operating on 30 June 2004, and the Red Line which opened on 26 September 2004. Since then, both lines have been extended and split into different branches further out of the city. The two lines, as of 2017, now intersect and connect within Dublin city centre. The system now has sixty-seven stations and 42.5 kilometres (26.4 mi) of revenue track, which in 2018 carried 41.8 million passengers, an increase of 11.2% compared to 2017.

SmartRider is the contactless electronic ticketing system of the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia. The system uses RFID smartcard technology to process public transport fares across public bus, train and ferry services.

Fares and ticketing on the Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)

Because the rail operators are government-assisted profit-based corporations, fares and ticketing on Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system are currently aimed at least in breaking even to at least compensate for their costs of running the system. The rail operators collect fares by selling electronic tickets capable of storing data, the price of which is calculated based on the distance between the start and destination stations. These prices increase in fixed stages for standard non-concessionary travel. From the information that was earlier written in these tickets, it is possible to increase the fare according to increments based on approximate distances between stations.

The London Underground metro system of London, England uses a mix of paper and electronic smart-card ticketing.

TransLink is the public transit agency for Queensland, and is part of the Department of Transport and Main Roads. TransLink was first introduced by the Queensland Government in June 2003 to orchestrate bus, ferry, rail and light rail services. TransLink works with Brisbane Airtrain, Transport for Brisbane, Transdev, Queensland Rail and other operators to provide services. TransLink operates an integrated ticketing system and the go card system to allow the use of one ticket on multiple services.

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.


Myki is a reloadable credit card-sized contactless smart card ticketing system used for electronic payment of fares on most public transport services in Melbourne and regional Victoria, Australia. Myki replaced the Metcard ticketing system and became fully operational at the end of 2012.

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.


The OV-chipkaart is a contactless smart card system used for all public transport in the Netherlands. First introduced in the Rotterdam Metro in April 2005, it has subsequently been rolled out to other areas and travel modes. It fully replaced the national strippenkaart system for buses, trams, and metro trains in 2011, and the paper ticket system for rail travel in July 2014.

get me there

get me there is an electronic ticketing scheme under development by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) for use on public transport services in Greater Manchester, England. It was first announced and confirmed as an integrated travel card, comparable to London's Oyster card, for Greater Manchester in June 2012, following a bid from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

A transit pass or travel card, often referred to as a bus pass or train pass etc., is a ticket that allows a passenger of the service to take either a certain number of pre-purchased trips or unlimited trips within a fixed period of time.

qconnect is a network of integrated public passenger transport services that cover subsidised and/or regulated bus, coach and aviation networks in Regional Queensland, Australia. It was introduced by the Queensland Government in December 2007, and is an agency operated by the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR).

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.

Easy Card

The EASY Card system is a series of linked contactless smartcard systems used by Miami-Dade Transit and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority in the South Florida area. The Easy Card allows for electronic payment on multiple public transport systems including Miami Metrorail, rapid transit rail system; Tri-Rail, commuter rail system; and Metrobus. Other public transportation agencies in the South Florida area which may eventually join the system include Broward County Transit as well as Palm Tran.

Opal card

Opal is a contactless fare collection system for public transport services in the greater Sydney area and most other urban areas of New South Wales, Australia. Operation of the Opal system is managed by the New South Wales Government's transport authority, Transport for NSW. First launched in late 2012, Opal is valid on Transport for NSW's bus, rail, light rail and ferry services that operate in Sydney and the neighbouring Central Coast, Hunter Region, Blue Mountains, Illawarra and Southern Highlands areas. Opal equipment was designed from the start to support a variety of cards, but launched with the captive Opal cards.

Leap card

The TFI Leap Card is a contactless smart card for automated fare collection overseen by Transport for Ireland (TFI). It was introduced in the Greater Dublin area in 2011 for Luas, DART, Iarnród Éireann and Dublin Bus, but acceptance has significantly expanded. Initially, Leap Cards offered only a pre-paid electronic wallet system for single-trip fares; since May 2014, it has also been possible to load it with weekly, monthly and annual subscriptions. In September 2017, there were over 2.5 million Leap Card users according to the National Transport Authority. The Leap Card is the result of many years' work by the Railway Procurement Agency and the National Transport Authority as part of the rollout of an integrated ticketing scheme for public transport in Dublin city. Fares are generally discounted compared to cash prices, and limited integrated ticketing is offered via multi-trip discounts and daily fare caps. The minimum top-up for the card is currently €5.

Compass card (British Columbia) Public transit fare collection system in Metro Vancouver, Canada

The Compass card is a contactless smart card automated fare collection system used primarily for public transit in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Compass card readers were first implemented as a beta in September 2013. Due to delays, full implementation to the general public began in August 2015. The system is operated by Cubic Transportation Systems and is managed by TransLink, the transportation authority for the region.


  1. 1 2 "Cubic Signs Contract to Deliver US$95 Million Smart Card-Based Ticketing System and Regional Services to Brisbane, Australia" (Press release). Cubic Corporation. 18 July 2003.
  2. 1 2 Lucas, Paul (14 July 2006). "1,000 volunteers to test new smart card". Ministerial Media Statements. Queensland Government.
  3. Beattie, Peter (10 June 2002). "Integrated ticketing to revolutionise public transport". Ministerial Media Statements. Queensland Government.
  4. "TransLink's Tracker" (PDF). TransLink, Queensland Government.
  5. "The brand new G:". TransLink.
  6. "Explore the Gold Coast with go explore".
  7. "Springfield Rail Line Opening" (PDF).
  8. "Bay islands added to Translink islands". Brisbane Times.
  9. "Where to buy and top up". TransLink.
  10. Mickel, John (14 July 2006). "1,000 volunteers to test new smart card". Ministerial Media Statements. Queensland Government.
  11. Bligh, Anna (29 June 2008). "Slashed fares will fight congestion". Ministerial Media Statements. Queensland Government.
  12. "New fare structure". TransLink Transit Authority. Brisbane, Australia: Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 17 April 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  13. Daniel Hurst (30 October 2010). "Fares fair: call for Go Card caps dismissed". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  14. Qld signs Cubic to run Go Card for three more years IT News 24 November 2015
  15. "Explore the Gold Coast with go explore". Queensland Government.
  16. "Gold Coast go explore card - FAQs". TransLink.
  17. "New go card trial launched". TransLink.
  18. "Vision pass boosts travel accessibility". Queensland Government.
  19. "Vision Impairment Travel Pass". TransLink.
  20. "New go access card gets Sunshine Coast corporate events moving". Sunshine Coast Council.
  21. "Go Access Corporate Events Card". Choose Brisbane.
  22. Zones TransLink
  23. New zone structure TransLink
  24. SEQ fairer fares TransLink
  25. "2014-2015 Annual Report" (PDF). Department of Transport and Main Roads.
  26. "go card ready to roll into Brisbane". Queensland Government.
  27. "Cubic Technology Adds More go card Sales Outlets for Brisbane Commuters". Cubic Transportation Systems.
  28. "Go Card could be replaced". 7 News.
  29. Jabour, Bridie (19 March 2012). "LNP would consider CityCycle-Go Card link". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  30. "Good news! You can now associate your CityCycle subscription to your TransLink go Card". CityCycle. 29 November 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  31. Calligeros, Marissa (30 November 2012). "Commuters can use Go Cards on CityCycle from Today". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  32. TransLink Division Quarterly Reports TransLink
  33. TransLink Tracker 2015/16 Q4 Department of Transport & Main Roads
  34. Casey, Scott (11 April 2008). "Go cards 'doomed' over security". Brisbane Times .
  35. Calligeros, Marissa; Conal Hanna (6 January 2010). "Stations to sell Go Cards". Brisbane Times .
  36. Calligeros, Marissa (4 January 2010). "Ready to pay more for public transport?". Brisbane Times .
  37. "Council condemns public transport fare increase". Brisbane Times. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  38. "Outrage over Brisbane transport fare hike". The Courier-Mail. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  39. "Changes to Fares and Ticketing in 2013". Translink Transit Authority. Retrieved 1 January 2013.