Suburban transport services consist of rail, bus and tram routes. Adelaide is now the only Australian city with a suburban rail network which is not electrified. The four lines, plus two short branches, are operated by diesel railcars.
Bus services are comprehensive and include various ‘Go Zones', where it is guaranteed that one will not have to wait more than a certain time (usually ten or fifteen minutes) for a bus. To the north-east of the city, buses run along the O-Bahn, a concrete busway where the driver is relieved of the stresses of steering and just sits back and plants his foot on the accelerator.
It claims to be the longest guided busway in the world and it certainly expedites travel in this direction, the only drawback being that there is nothing very special to see at the end of the trip through the pleasant park land. The end of the busway (but not necessarily of the bus route) is at Tea Tree Plaza, where there is a suburban shopping centre.
The third free service is operated by Adelaide City Council and is known as the Adelaide Connector. This is a minibus service running between Adelaide and North Adelaide and performing a circuit of each. The service operates hourly in both directions every day including Sundays, but not on public holidays.
The one remaining city tram service operates to the famous seaside suburb of Glenelg. The trams which run on this route were built in 1929 and operate at approximately fifteen minute intervals. The journey of ten kilometres takes half an hour. In its very early days, this was a railway line, which started operations in 1873. Electric trams were introduced on 14th December 1929 and trams of the same type have been operating the line ever since.
A single ticketing system applies to all Adelaide transport within the metropolitan area. Buses, trains and the Glenelg tram can all be used with the same ticket.
The cheapest ticket is a two-section ticket, which allows one to make a single journey of approximately three kilometres.
Next is a 'zone' ticket, which allows unlimited travel for two hours between 9:00 and 15:00. One can take as many vehicles as one likes during the two hours and may complete a journey as long as it is commenced within the time limit. A ticket purchased at the cheaper rate before 15:00 may be used for its full two-hour validity, even though that means travelling after 15:00.
One can also buy 'multitrip' tickets, sets of ten tickets, offering approximately a 30% discount. These cannot be purchased on vehicles, but must be bought in advance from the Transport Information Centre, or designated sales agents such as post offices, manned railway stations (there are not many), newsagents and small stores.
Then there is the best value of all, which is a one-day ticket. This can be bought on buses, trains and trams.
On a bus, one purchases a ticket from the driver. On the tram, there is a conductor. However, on the train there is only a machine, strategically placed near the door, and it accepts only coins. It is not enough just to buy a ticket on a bus, tram or train. One then has to put it into another machine to validate it. Thereafter, when using another vehicle with the same ticket, one inserts it again, and hopes that it will be returned.