Adelaide Metro is the public transport system of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. It is an intermodal system offering an integrated network of bus, tram, and train service throughout the metropolitan area. The network has an annual patronage of 79.9 million, of which 51 million journeys are by bus, 15.6 million by train, and 9.4 million by tram.[1] The system has evolved heavily over the past fifteen years, and patronage increased dramatically during the 2014–15 period, a 5.5 percent increase on the 2013 figures due to electrification of frequented lines.[2][3]

Adelaide Metro began in 2000 with the privatisation of existing government-operated bus and train routes. The Glenelg tram line, the only of Adelaide's tramways to survive the 1950s, was also integrated into the current system. Services are now run by two private operators and united with common ticketing systems, marketing, and livery and signage under the supervision of South Australia's Department of Planning, Transport & Infrastructure. Since the last fifteen years, energy sustainability and eco-friendly transport has been a major focus for Adelaide Metro; in recent years the fleet has been upgraded with electric trains and solar-powered buses–one of which (known as the Tindo electric bus) is 100% solar powered and the first of its kind in the world.[4][5] Despite this, almost 80 percent of Adelaide's metropolitan buses still run on diesel fuel rather than biodiesel or batteries.[6]

Adelaide Metro has faced criticism for punctuality issues, "unreliable" services, ageing buses and incidents of severely coarse language, racism, and assault on some lines.[7] The complaints increased since the system switched to a private operator in October 2011. The Adelaide Metro received 7,562 feedback reports–more than 40 a day–in 2012. In order to counteract these problems and increase accountability, performance data will now be published weekly as opposed to quarterly by the Adelaide Metro. This will highlight how trains and buses are performing in terms of punctuality and service, as well as comparisons to interstate public transport. The 2014 service figures indicate that the system performed slightly better in 2014 than it did the previous year.[8]


The Adelaide Metro is a brand introduced in April 2000 following the second round of tenders privatisation of formerly government-operated bus services.[9][10]

Previously, the public transport system in Adelaide has been known under several names. The State Transport Authority was formed in 1974, combining the metropolitan rail operations of the former South Australian Railways Commission, and the bus and tram operations of the former Municipal Tramways Trust. Adelaide removed all tramlines during the 1960s leaving only the Glenelg line. This tramline was extended in 2007 by the Department Of Transport, Energy & Infrastructure (DTEI), and again to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in 2010. In July 1994, the STA was abolished and government public transport services were transferred to TransAdelaide, a publicly owned corporation.

In 1995–96, there was a partial tendering of the bus services. TransAdelaide retained three contract regions, Serco won two contract regions, and Hills Transit a joint venture between Australian Transit Enterprises and TransAdelaide, one.[11][12] Services were run and marketed under each operator's name, presenting a disjointed network to the public.

The 2000 round of tenders saw the end of TransAdelaide's direct operation of bus services in its own right, although it retained the train and tram services. Serco won the North-South, Outer North, and Outer North-East contract areas, SouthLink the Outer South contract area, Torrens Transit the East-West contract area and City Free services and Transitplus, a joint venture between Australian Transit Enterprises and TransAdelaide, the Hills Contract area.[12] The Adelaide Metro brand was applied across all transport operators, appearing to the public as a unified network, with common livery, timetable designs and a city Information Centre.

Environmental incentives

The State Government pledged that the Adelaide Metro would use cleaner fuels like biodiesel and natural gas in an effort to make Adelaide a carbon neutral city, however nearly 80 percent of the Adelaide Metro buses are still run on diesel, which is harmful for the environment due to the presence of sulfur.[6]



Adelaide Metro Scania K280UB

The largest element of Adelaide's public transport system is a fleet of diesel and natural gas powered buses. The majority of services terminate in the Adelaide city centre, suburban railway stations or shopping centre interchanges. As contracts are revised for privatised bus operations, more cross suburban routes are added to the network, whereas in the past bus routes were largely focused on moving passengers from the suburbs to the CBD.

A major component of the Adelaide Metro bus service is the O-Bahn guided busway to Modbury carrying around 9 million passengers a year. From opening in 1986 until August 2011 it was the world's longest busway, with a length of 12 kilometres and remains the world's fastest busway with a maximum permitted speed of 100 km/h. Away from the O-Bahn, whilst there have been dedicated bus lanes and bus only signal phases at some traffic lights provided for a number of years, a major improvement to bus priority and reliability arrived with the delivery in July 2012 of the CBD Bus Lane project.[13]

Adelaide Metro buses are split up geographically into six contract regions:

Region Operator (until June 2020)[14] Operator (from July 2020)[15] Comments
North-South Torrens Transit Torrens Connect Integrated bus and light rail contract, includes Free City Connector, O-Bahn services and Glenelg tram line
East-West Torrens Transit Torrens Transit
Outer North East Torrens Transit Torrens Transit
Outer South SouthLink Busways
Outer North SouthLink Torrens Transit
Hills SouthLink SouthLink

The new contracts will begin on 1 July 2020 for a period of eight years with an option to extend for two years.[16]

Former operators which had operated Adelaide Metro services in the past but no longer operate in Adelaide are:

  • Serco – ended its contract in 2004, at the contracted half-term break-point, after failing to renegotiate its contract on better terms. Serco had previously informed the Minister for Transport that it was not willing to continue to operate the bus services for a further five years on the terms contained in the then existing Contract. Serco had made a submission to the Department of Transport & Urban Planning proposing to operate the bus services in the contract areas on new terms and conditions. The submission was rejected and the contracts retendered.[12][17]
  • Transitplus – following the abolition of joint owner TransAdelaide in late 2010, Transitplus services were taken over by joint owner Australian Transit Enterprises's SouthLink.
  • Light-City Buses – operated the North-South and Outer North East contract areas (including the 300 Suburban Connector and O-Bahn services) from 2011 until its purchase by Torrens Transit in 2018.[18][19]

Commuter rail

The Adelaide suburban railway network consists of six lines operated by the Department of Planning, Transport & Infrastructure Public Transport Division.

Until 2014, the suburban network was the only one in Australia to operate solely with diesel railcars. In 2013–2014, the full lengths of the Seaford and Tonsley line were electrified, as well as the segment of the Belair line from Goodwood to its terminus at Adelaide;[20] and electric trains have run on the Seaford and Tonsley lines since 2014. Although the original plans were to electrify the remaining three lines, they were abandoned in 2012[21] with the potential for a Gawler line upgrade in 2017–18.[20]

In July 2019, the government announced the provision of rail services would be contracted out.[22]

As at July 2019, the fleet consists of 70 3000/3100 class diesel railcars and 22 three-carriage 4000 class electric rail cars.[23] All remaining 2000/2100 class train cars were retired from service in August 2015.

The six rail lines all run into Adelaide railway station in the CBD. They are:


Adelaide's once extensive tram network was dismantled in the middle of the 20th century leaving only the Glenelg tram running 12 kilometres between Victoria Square in the city-centre and Moseley Square on the beachfront at Glenelg. The majority of the line is on a dedicated corridor though the western suburbs, but travels on roadway in the city from the terminus to South Terrace and along Jetty Road in Glenelg.

An extension of the line from Victoria Square down King William Street then along North Terrace opened in October 2007.[24] A further extension along Port Road to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre opened in December 2009. Since then, the extended line has had stops adjacent to key city points, including Rundle Mall, the Adelaide railway station and the City West campus of the University of South Australia.[25][26] There is no fare charged on certain sections of the line. Construction of a new junction, branch lines along the eastern end of North Terrace and King William Road and four new stops began in July/August 2017 and opened on 13 October 2018.[27]

The line is operated from Glengowrie depot with 15 Bombardier Flexity Classic trams built between 2005 and 2010[28] and nine Alstom Citadis trams that were built for, but were surplus to their needs of Metro Ligero, Madrid in 2009.[29][30][31] The latter were modified by Yarra Trams' Preston Workshops before entering service. A further three unused former Madrid Citadis trams entered service in 2018.[32][33]

In July 2019, the government announced the provision of tram services would be contracted out.[22] Torrens Connect will commence on 1 July 2020.[15]


An outdated map of Adelaide’s railway & tram network

According to Adelaide Metro, interchanges "provide convenient connections between buses and trains. Many also feature Park ‘n’ Ride services and bike storage."[34]


The Adelaide Metro ticketing system is multi-modal, meaning that one ticket can be used to transfer between trains, trams and buses, regardless of the service provider. In September 1987 the Metroticket system developed by was introduced.[35][36] This used magnetic strip technology. In 2010 a contract to introduce the Metrocard smartcard ticketing system was awarded to Affiliated Computer Services.[37] It was rolled out in November 2012.[38] The older system was phased out in 2015.

A trial is being performed to assess whether a mobile ticketing option can be integrated into the network. This option would use NFC technology found in most smartphones.

See also


  1. ^ South Australia Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (September 2019). "Annual Report 2018-19" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Record Adelaide Metro patronage as passengers flock to train network". Premier of South Australia. 23 July 2015. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Annual Report 2009-2010" (PDF). TransAdelaide. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  4. ^ "New electric train chosen for Adelaide". The Advertiser. 10 November 2010.
  5. ^ "Adelaide Creates World's First Solar-Powered Public Transit System". Ecolocalizer. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Almost 80 per cent of Adelaide metropolitan buses run on regular diesel". The Advertiser. 17 April 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Bus complaint line running hot". Adelaide Now. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Adelaide Metro to publish weekly performance data". 28 April 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  9. ^ Morgan, Peter (21 April 2000). "A new deal on the buses". The Advertiser.
  10. ^ "Adelaide Metro Introduced" Australian Bus Panorama issue 16/1 August 2000 page 12
  11. ^ "Hills Transit" Australian Bus Panorama issue 11/3 October 1995 page 33
  12. ^ a b c Wallis, Ian; Bray, David (June 2001). "Competitive Tendering for Bus Services: The Improved Adelaide Model" (PDF). Thredbo Series. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  13. ^ Bus priority lane project Adelaide Metro July 2012
  14. ^ Minister for Transport - Report on the Adelaide Metro Bus Service Contracts Archived 19 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, August 2011, retrieved 2011-12-03.
  15. ^ a b Welcome to a new era for public transport in South Australia Department of Planning, Transport & Infrastructure 20 March 2020
  16. ^ Adelaide Bus and Public Transport Contracts Announced Australasian Bus & Coach 10 March 2020
  17. ^ Kain, Peter. "Australian & British Experiences with Competitive Tendering in Rail Operations" (PDF). Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  18. ^ "Torrens Transit acquires local rival Light City Buses". News Pty Limited Australia. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  19. ^ "Torrens Transit acquires Light City Buses". Transit Systems. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  20. ^ a b Rail Network Electrification Archived 20 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine Government of South Australia
  21. ^ South Australia cuts back Adelaide electrification International Railway Journal 8 June 2012
  22. ^ a b SA government to privatise operation of Adelaide Metro trains and trams ABC News 1 July 2019
  23. ^ Bombardier Wins Contract to Supply 25 kV Railcars for Adelaide, Australia Archived 4 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine Bombardier 31 March 2011
  24. ^ Official opening for tram extension ABC News 14 October 2007
  25. ^ Adelaide Tramline Extension Project 2007 Archived 1 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine Department for Transport, Energy & Infrastructure
  26. ^ Tramline Extension Project – Victoria Square to City West Archived 20 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine Department of Planning, Transport & Infrastructure
  27. ^ Boisvert, Eugene (13 October 2018). "Trams start running on Adelaide's North Terrace extension seven months late". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  28. ^ Flexity Class Vicsig
  29. ^ New European trams a massive boost to Adelaide network Archived 21 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine Rail Express 22 June 2009
  30. ^ Spanish discovery New Connections (Infrastructure SA) issue 4 2009
  31. ^ Citadis Class Vicsig
  32. ^ SA mid-year budget review: $20 million for more Adelaide trams and a new spur line ABC News 15 December 2016
  33. ^ "Here & There" Trolley Wire issue 352 February 2018 page 19
  34. ^ SA, Service. "Adelaide Metro – Interchanges". Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  35. ^ Tickets please The Recorder November 1987 page 22
  36. ^ Ticket Machines Fleetline issue 151 February 1988 page 45
  37. ^ Smarter ticketing on the way New Connections Infrastructure SA issue 6 2010
  38. ^ Public transport Metrocard ticketing up and running on SA buses, trams and trains by November Adelaide Advertiser 19 September 2012

External links