Adelaide public transport capacity and access

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Adelaide public transport capacity and access

Early-stage proposal (Stage 1)
Adelaide, SA
Smaller cities and regional centres
Efficient urban transport networks
Problem/Opportunity timeframe
Medium term (5-10 years)
Proposed By
SA Government
Date added to the IPL
17 February 2016
Adelaide public transport capacity and access


The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit found that the performance of urban roads and urban public transport in Adelaide is a key challenge for South Australia.

The Audit estimated that the cost of delay on Adelaide’s urban transport network was $1.4 billion in 2016 and would grow to $2.6 billion in 2031 in the absence of investments or other changes beyond those already funded.

The major public transport destination in Adelaide is the CBD, with most public transport use being on buses. Public transport use in Adelaide is significantly lower than in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In Adelaide, the proportion of passengers using public transport for journeys to work is just under 9%, compared to 11.6% in Brisbane, 15.6% in Melbourne and 22.8% in Sydney.

Adelaide’s recent employment growth has been centred on the inner and middle suburbs, whereas population growth has been strongest in the middle and outer suburbs. Existing public transport services do not support urban density. A continuation of existing land use patterns will result 
in greater reliance on and use of private passenger vehicles, in turn leading to further road congestion and delays at the expense of economic efficiency.


The proposal is for public transport network improvements to and from the Adelaide CBD. Infrastructure SA released the 20-Year State Infrastructure Strategy in 2020, which identified a range of public transport options that could increase access and capacity. This includes Bus Rapid Transit, a heavy rail city loop to increase capacity and potential extensions to the tram network.

The South Australian Government has established the South Australian Public Transport Authority to improve public transport services. The Adelaide Council and South Australian Government are currently developing a  City Access Strategy, which will detail public transport options.

Next steps 

Proponent to develop potential investment options (Stage 2 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).