Ferry extension up the Brisbane River

Something that comes up occasionally on comment sections that I see is the idea of extending the CityCat upriver from UQ. I suspect it’s not justifiable for journeys to (or past) the city but it might be worthwhile for more local trips.


We’ll consider going as far as Indooroopilly in this analysis. It’s almost the same distance from UQ as UQ is from North Quay in the CBD (10km), and past it there’s comparatively little development on the northern bank of the river.

There are a number of potential wharf locations:

This presents us with a problem. If both the northern-bank stops are marginal at best, then is there really any cross-river demand here other than to UQ, or for that matter, in most places? West End to UQ and Bulimba to Teneriffe are busy, but the Norman Park to New Farm ferry only had a few passengers per service according to patronage data and the Kangaroo Point to City ones aren’t much better. Every other suburb-to-suburb cross-river pair on the CityCat is only a small fraction of patronage; it’s mostly to the CBD stops and to South Bank.

And if there’s minimal cross-river demand then why not just improve the buses? Extend the 196 into Yeronga and put some sort of frequentish service through Tennyson?


The maximum CityCat speed I’ve seen quoted is 25 knots, which equates to just over 45 km/h. As the river is narrower and shallower and its banks are more fragile upriver, it seems likely that we can take this as a better-than-best case speed. Additionally, stop time must be accounted for. Comparing a timetable from 2005 (without Milton) and one from 2021, it takes three minutes longer to the time taken to go from Regatta to North Quay. But looking at the timetable further downriver it’s clearly less than three minutes per stop as some stops are only three minutes apart! Perhaps the Go-Between and Kurilpa bridges have also slowed things down.

With this as a basis, I estimate a absolute-best-case base time of 15 minutes from Indooroopilly to UQ, with no stops in between. To this, I add three minutes for each of our two guaranteed stops, at Tennyson and Anita St Yeronga.

Timing comparisons

Riverine transport isn’t necessarily uncompetitive but for longer-distance CBD commutes it is.