Newcastle Buses & Ferries

Newcastle Buses & Ferries was a commuter bus and ferry service operating in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie from 1935 until 2017. Part of the State Transit Authority, it operated 26 bus routes and the Stockton ferry across the Hunter River.

Newcastle Buses & Ferries
Buses at the Newcastle station layover
ParentState Transit Authority
Commenced operation22 September 1935
Ceased operation30 June 2017
Service areaLake Macquarie
Service typeBus & ferry operator
Routes26 (June 2017)
Fleet180 buses, 2 ferries (June 2017)


The first government operated bus route commenced on 22 September 1935 to Mayfield. On 10 June 1950, the final tram routes were withdrawn. On 2 February 1983, the Stockton ferry service was taken over from a private operator.[1]

In November 2015, the Government announced its intention to incorporate Newcastle Buses & Ferries into a new Transport for Newcastle along with the Newcastle Light Rail with the operation of services to be contracted to a private operator.[2][3] Keolis Downer and a Transit Systems/UGL Rail consortium announced their intentions to bid.[4][5] In December 2016 the contract was awarded to Keolis Downer who trading as Newcastle Transport took over the services from 1 July 2017.[6]


The bus network radiated from a bus terminal in Scott Street near NSW TrainLink's former Newcastle station. Buses parked in a designated layover area adjacent to the station however buses did not pick up or set down in this area. Major interchanges were located at University of Newcastle, Wallsend, Glendale, Warners Bay, Belmont, Charlestown Square, Westfield Kotara and Broadmeadow station.[7][8]

From 1 July 2006 Newcastle Buses' services formed Sydney Outer Metropolitan Bus Regions 5. The initial eight-year contract was renewed for a further three years from 1 July 2014.[9]


Depots were at Hamilton, which opened as a tram depot in 1923, and Belmont, which opened in April 1953.[10]


At the time of cessation, the bus fleet consisted of 180 MAN, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo buses.[11] There were two ferries, the 1986 built Hunter and Shortland, named after Governor John Hunter and naval officer John Shortland.


Unlike other State Transit Authority run buses, Newcastle Buses & Ferries historically used a time-based ticketing system which was separate from the MyZone ticketing system. Single tickets could be purchased for one, four or 23 hours, or a TimeTen ticket Multiride which equated to ten one hour tickets. Other than the 23-hour ticket, time-based tickets could not be used on the ferry.[12] Newcastle Buses & Ferries also accepted, but did not sell, TravelPass, MyMulti, and Excursion tickets from the MyZone system, but not MyBus or TravelTen. As part of the Opal card rollout, 11 types of tickets including the 23 hours tickets were withdrawn on 20 November 2014.[13] With Opal fares the time-based ticketing system ceased.[14] From 1 January 2016 the 1 hour ticket was the only non-Opal ticket available for use on Newcastle Buses.[12] Paper tickets were withdrawn on 1 August 2016.

Free Bus Zone

Trips within a designated area of the Newcastle CBD on Newcastle Buses & Ferries services were zero-fare under the Newcastle Alliance's Free City Buses programme. The zero-fare zone operated daily between 07:30 and 18:00.[15] The programme received funding from the Honeysuckle Development Corporation and Government of New South Wales. The Fare Free Zone continued after the takeover by Newcastle Transport but ceased when the Newcastle Light Rail commenced 18 February 2019.[16]

Newcastle Buses also ran a free shuttle within this zone as route 555 with buses in a green livery. It was discontinued due to low patronage in August 2013.[17][18]


  1. "Newcastle Buses 75 Years of Bus Services" Australian Bus issue 41 September 2010 pages 4–15
  2. Building tomorrows Newcastle: A New Approach to Transport Transport NSW 5 November 2015
  3. Transport for Newcastle: private operator to integrate city’s public transport ABC News 5 November 2015
  4. Keolis Downer eyes acquisitions ahead of Newcastle public transport bid The Sydney Morning Herald 3 December 2015
  5. Transit Systems and UGL announce intention to jointly bid for Newcastle iso Transit Systems 26 February 2016
  6. Keolis Downer awarded contract to run light rail, buses and ferries says Baird government Newcastle Herald 12 December 2016
  7. Timetables and Maps Newcastle Buses
  8. Newcastle Buses & Ferries State Transit Authority
  9. Annual Report 30 June 2014 page 89 State Transit Authority
  10. Travers, Greg (1982). From City to Suburb...a fifty year journey. Sydney: Historic Commercial Vehicle Association. p. 97. ISBN 0 959601 62 7.
  11. State Transit Authority – Newcastle Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  12. Newcastle Fares Transport Info. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  13. Getting on with modernising public transport as 11 paper tickets in Newcastle retired Transport for NSW 31 October 2014
  14. Opal card rolling out as 11 paper tickets in Newcastle retired Transport for NSW 19 November 2014
  15. Fare Free Bus Zone Retrieved 9 January 2013
  16. Newcastle Fare Free Bus Zone to end in February 2019, Opal transfer discount to apply Revitalising Newcastle 21 December 2018
  17. Free Newcastle shuttle
  18. Poorly patronised shuttle buses to go in favour of more services where they are needed Transport for NSW
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