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Yankee Jun 25, 2009 2:16 AM

Which large Australian city has the best public transportation system?

I'm planning on spending next summer in Australia and I am trying to decide which large Australian city to go to. A huge factor for me is transportation - I won't be driving and I generally prefer dense, walkable pedestrian-friendly cities with good public transit systems.

I am ashamed to say I know very little of Australian cities' infrastructures. In the US we have rather poor mass transit systems in all but a handful of large cities, and generally the level of mass transit development corresponds to the population density of that city (though, there are obviously exceptions).

So, I spent some time on Wikipedia looking at Australian cities' densities and looking at their transportation networks, and I was surprised to find out the 4 largest cities have rather low densities, but I'm sure in Australia that does not in any way mean less of an urban feel, because judging from google street view + pictures I've seen of Sydney for example, it definitely does look quite urban (DUH! :D), despite having only a 5,330/sq mi density, which is interesting, so I suspect that the post-industrial/suburbanization phase in Australia did not take as heavy of a toll on Australian cities as it did on American ones (let's face it, we also had severe racism-driven district redlining/white flight here), so the low density there I imagine does not necessarily or at all indicate a lesser urban quality of life. Okay, I'm digressing here and I obviously pulled the last few sentences out of my a** :D

So anyway, I also noticed that Sydney doesn't have a subway system, only several commuter rail lines. Now, I'm sure that despite all of this, Sydney is quite walkable + obviously amazing in every way, it's the largest city in Australia, so it has to, right? The thing is though, Sydney is also not my #1 choice, because of the high cost of living, so ideally I'm looking for something a bit cheaper if it can also offer a reliable mass transit system.

So, I was thinking Melbourne - it seems like the city has a rather extensive light rail network and is rather walkable, it's still pretty huge, and I'm hoping it is at least somewhat cheaper than Sydney?

I obviously have not done enough research on this and I clearly don't know what I'm talking about, so I would appreciate any input from Aussies I can get :)

What large Australian city (preferably 500,000+) would you say offers the best bang for buck so to speak, and has a good and extensive transportation system, where one can comfortably live without a car? If in your opinion the answer is Sydney, please give me your second choice as well - as a matter of fact I would appreciate a ranking of any sort. Thank you and God bless Australia :D

Ayreonaut Jun 25, 2009 4:13 AM

I've never been to Australia, so I am of no help.

I'm not sure however, how many Australian forumers we have here, so you might have better success posting this in the Skybar (or Canada section, since it seems it's mandatory for Canadians to travel Down Under :P).

jsoto3 Jul 3, 2009 7:15 PM

I'm not from Australia and have not yet been there, but from what I can tell via nominal research, Melbourne has the best public transit system (primarily street cars). BTW, the Aussies hang out at the "OZScrapers" subforum on SkyscraperCity:

You will get more response there.

ue Jul 3, 2009 7:20 PM

wasnt this thread longer?

MyFavco Jul 17, 2009 2:03 PM

I am from Aus, and know all the major cities from having lived there.

Hello to California.

  1. Melbourne
  2. Sydney
  3. Brisbane
  4. Adelaide
  5. Perth

If car free public transport is the life style you are looking for than only Melbourne qualifies. It is like San Fran. Absolultey beautiful and full of culture.

Sydney is more for your stock broker types. It is a rat race and a big city with some difficult terrain (i.e. millions of habours and beaches) to navigate by PT so you are best with a car. Traffic there is a killer. But it is the most beautiful city to look at - you most go there, no excuses.

Brisbane is sleepy. Not sure why you would want to go there.

Adelaide is the same as Brisbane but at a even slower pace.

trofirhen Sep 26, 2009 4:21 PM

... can you advise us; give us some tips? ......

My post name is "trofirhen" (old Norwegian) and I'm from Vancouver, Canada.

We are experiencing terrific growth right now in all sectors, not the least of which is transportation, especially rail and underground transport.

I think we have a lot to learn from you folks in Australia, (especially perhaps Melbourne) but if you would do us the priviledge of going to "Canada" on Skyscraperpage, then clicking on "Vancouver," and choosing whatever column you think most appropriate, that would be great.

Tell us what we can learn from you, ESPECIALLY if any of you have ever visited Vancouver.

We'd value your input. Thank you very much. :yes:

Dean Oct 2, 2009 1:43 AM

Hello Yankee.

I agree that the best transit system in the country is in Melbourne. It has the most extensive commuter train network and I think the largest, or one of the largest, Tram/Streetcar networks in the world as well. Trams run in the inner city areas and cover just about everywhere you'll ever want to go.

Sydney is the home of business and financial services while Melbourne is the retail and manufacturing hub and home to our largest shipping port

In terms of populations, Australia's two largest cities are very similar. Sydney has around 4.4 million people while Melbourne has just gone past 4 million and has been growing at a much faster rate over the last 5-6 years than it's northern rival. If things continue as they are it's possible that Melbourne could overtake Sydney in about 15-20 years and become the countries largest city once again.

The cost of rental accommodation is probably 10-20% cheaper for comparable properties in Melbourne but these days that gap is unfortunately closing as well.

However, which ever you choose i think you'll love both cities.

Surrealplaces Nov 13, 2014 8:31 AM

Im a bit late to this party, but wanted to chime in anyway. I haven't been to Sydney, but will be there next week. One thing for sure is that Melbourne's transit is excellent. One the best I've used.

Surrealplaces Nov 24, 2014 10:28 PM

Now that I have been to both cities, I would probably give the edge to Melbourne.
I preferred Sydney's train system vs Melbourne's train system, but as a whole transit system comparison I would give the nod to Melbourne, due to the trams. The tram system in Melbourne is simply amazing.

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