HomeArticlesBusiness & InvestLifestyleGold Coast Hopo ferry trial: alternative and fun public transport
Hopo Gold Coast Ferry Service

Gold Coast Hopo ferry trial: alternative and fun public transport

Cheryl Malone | December 2019

All aboard! Experience a new alternative transport option for the city on the Gold Coast’s brand new ferry service. With some of the most stunning natural waterways of any city in the world, it was only a matter of time before the Gold Coast ferry service became a reality.

Launched in early December, the ferry service took to the water like a duck, with locals and visitors alike keen to hop on board and explore the Gold Coast’s treasures from a different perspective.

Designed to showcase some of the region’s glorious aquatic assets, reduce road congestion and increase the range of sustainable public transport options available to commuters and visitors, the two-year trial is part of the City of Gold Coast’s ‘smart growth’ approach to transport.

Hopo Gold Coast public ferry service: a dream come true

In April 2019, City of Gold Coast called for tenders to operate a two-year ferry trial. Working closely with eco-tourism business, Ferry I, the State Government, and local authorities, the Ferry service at last launched in early December, just in time for the busy summer season.

Popular Gold Coast tourism destinations, Marina Mirage and Sea World were also involved in the project, with passengers able to conveniently access the ferry service after a day of dolphin spotting or high-end shopping.

But for Ferry I General Manager, Anthony Ardern, the ferry service, appropriately named Hopo, is a dream that’s been a long time in the making.

“We’ve been operating water services on the Gold Coast for more than 15 years and we’ve always thought a hop-on hop-off ferry would be a great idea for locals and tourists,” he says.

“During the trial we’ll operate between HOTA (Home of the Arts) and Sea World and if it’s successful, there’s scope to extend further north toward Sovereign Island, Runaway Bay and beyond.”

Gold Coast public transport: up with the best in the world

Similar to hop-on hop-off transport options in many major cities around the world, the Hopo ferry service offers day tickets which enable commuters to hop-on and off as many times as they want in any one calendar day.

At $25 for adults ($18 for children and concessions) the price compares very favourably to similar services in cities like Venice, where travellers pay 20 euro (about $32) to spend the day meandering along the canals. With the Gold Coast’s waterways stretching nine times the length of Venice’s and a wide selection of leisure and tourism options all along the route, its clear Hopo offers great value for money.

“Keeping it affordable for families was a very important decision,” Ardern says.

While negotiations are continuing, Go Cards (commonly used on Translink public transport services in Queensland) cannot currently be accepted for ticket payments. However, commuters can use ‘tap and go’ credit card facilities on board the vessels or pay with cash. There is also an online payment facility – but this is for the full day (hop-on hop-off) tickets only.

Ardern said there were very few concerns raised at stakeholder consultations held in the lead-up to the launch.

“Everyone was really positive about the benefits the ferry service could bring,” he says. “Really the only issues were about not being able to use Go Cards and the fact that people wanted the ferries to travel even further north along the coast’s waterways.

“We’re just hoping everyone loves the idea as much as we do and they take full advantage of it because as long as we get the kind of support we believe we’re going to get, those things will all get sorted.”

Hopo ferry service: making transport better for the environment

Not only does hopping on a ferry for a quick trip over to Sea World on a hot day seem like the logical choice from a leisure-and-pleasure perspective, it’s also helping the local environment stay cleaner and greener.

With significant business and population growth anticipated on the Gold Coast over coming decades, introducing a range of diverse, sustainable transport options to reduce road congestion and enhance the local environment was identified as an important objective of The Gold Coast City Transport Strategy 2031.

Each ferry can carry 80 passengers at a time. With engines similar in size to those of small four-wheel drives and compliant with tier two environmental standards (the most advanced environmental standards for marine diesel engines), fuel emission reductions are obvious. To support other sustainable travel choices like cycling, pushbikes, surfboards and other sports equipment can also be taken on board.

How the Hopo public ferry service helps connect the Gold Coast

The Hopo ferry trial means people can now travel all the way from Brisbane, in and around the Gold Coast using a combination of heavy rail, light rail and the ferries as part of the expanded public transport network.

The vessels and pontoons are fully accessible, and the live, on-board commentary with interesting local knowledge and fun facts will inform, entertain and engage passengers, helping to strengthen connections and community resilience.

More information about Hopo

The service will be evaluated throughout the trial period and possibly extended based on demand.

Further information about ticket purchases and frequently asked questions can be found at hopo.com.au.

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