If you are from LA like me, public transit isn't a phrase that you hear very often. In LA (and even Southern California in general), public transit isn't very commonly used, nor is it made to be very practical for most people. Most of us use cars to get everywhere, which is why we are one of the most congested places in the world.
However, in many other parts of the world, public transit is not only much better, but it is much more commonly used by the average citizen. Living in Sydney has allowed me to greatly appreciate and enjoy public transit, despite some of its inconveniences it may have at times. Besides, it is a common mode of transit in most major cities of the world other than LA.
Talk to any Sydney local about public transit & most of them will say that it sucks. But I tell them that in LA, to go from the suburbs to downtown by bus (because there are not many train lines) would probably take like 5 buses and a few hours one way, whereas you can usually get by with 1 or 2 buses and an hour here. Their system is GOOD. At least, much better and easier to use than LA's.
To use any public transportation in Sydney, the easiest way is to use an Opal Card. It is a card that is used to tap "on" and "off" of whatever mode of transport you are using in the state of New South Wales. For trains and I believe ferries as well, you can only use an Opal card to get on. I don't think cash tickets are allowed here anymore, only on buses, but even then it can be a hassle to get a paper ticket on a bus.
There are different cards depending on your age and status. There are 4 different types:
- Child/Youth: any kid aged 4-15 and any full-time NSW student over 16
- Concession: university students and other people receiving special benefits from the NSW government
- Adult: any person over the age of 16
- Senior Gold/Pensioner: anyone who is old enough to be considered a Senior in the state of New South Wales
You can get an Opal for free; all you have to do is "top up" the amount of money you want to put on the card. Different cards have different rates (adults pay full price fares), and so for the adult cards you can top up the following amounts: $10, $20, $40, $50, $60, $80, $100, $120. More info on other cards can be found on the Opal card website.
When I visited here for 10 days and we used public transit almost every day I was here, it costed about $30. However I stayed with friends, rode only buses (I rode the train once to go to the airport for a domestic flight), and sometimes rode in a car, so I would recommend a minimum of $40 for a 10 day stay.
Main Forms of Transit
This is by far the most common form of transit in Sydney! Buses are EVERYWHERE and reach most places. This is the form of transit I take every day I go to work.
Buses have codes for the name of the bus and they always list where the route is ending with some of the suburbs/neighborhoods it is passing through. If you are heading to a major shopping mall (that is typically where buses start/end) then it will be easy to figure out where to get on, but if you are trying to get to a house or a smaller shopping center then you will probably want to download an app or use your maps app on your phone to figure out which specific route to take.
Buses can go just within a particular city or it can stretch from the suburbs all the way to the Central Business District of the city. They are convenient in the sense that buses cross through most neighborhoods, even residential areas, making it easier to get to places. I only have one bus that runs through my street, but it stops at 3 major shopping malls and my stop is located just a few steps from my front door.
Trains have to be my favorite form of transit! They make me feel like a city girl (after watching all the movies of people catching trains in New York City).
They connect many of the major cities/suburbs to each other, and they run pretty frequently, running every couple of minutes during the busiest parts of the day. They are pretty self explanatory. *Fun fact: I rode a train for the first time on the Sydney trains back in the year 2000 when I visited family in Sydney for the first time!*
Ferries run through the major harbors in the city of Sydney (with the exception of the Parramatta River in Parramatta, a city probably half an hour from Sydney city). I've only ridden on them twice and it's definitely a nice place to look out at the city from a different angle.
|From the NSW Transport website|
HOWEVER, I will say that if you do tend to get seasick or dizzy from moving boats, I would recommend refraining from looking at your phone while on board, sit down, and if you can get a seat outside or near a window, do that! Also, unless you are going on the ferry at 12 noon on the hottest day of the week, it can get pretty chilly! If it's a summer night I'm not saying to bring a jacket, but it's just something to be aware of :)
The Sydney Light Rail system is the last form of public transit for New South Wales, and there is only one light rail line running through Sydney. It is the tram system.
I, personally, have never ridden on the light rail nor have I even seen them in Sydney (I have seen them in Gold Coast when we were there on our honeymoon last year). They aren't super common as far as I know, but I also do not live nor do I visit the city often.
The line goes from Central Station to Dulwich Hill. It passes through Sydney's Chinatown and the famous Paddington Markets (kinda like a big swap meet or farmer's market) and it runs 24 hours a day, every single day.
I hope that this helps a little bit with travel in Sydney when you decide to come out and visit! This post is not sponsored by the Transport NSW but I thought I would share some tips and basics if you decide to visit Sydney one day. You will not need a rental car and you will save tons of money this way :)
Did I miss anything? If you have any specific questions my inbox is always open! I will be posting more Sydney travel-type posts talking about the logistics like travel and also legal aspects regarding moving here and my experiences, so if you are thinking about visiting or moving to Sydney anytime soon keep an eye out! Until then, check out my other posts about visiting/life in Australia xx