Public Transport, Sydney
Sydney Transport has introduced the Opal Card.
The website has facts, questions and answers.
The card is free to purchase. It can be ordered online (and credit added to it by credit card), or it can be purchased at convenience stores, etc.
The trains, ferries and most buses use Opal cards now.
A big tip: on Sundays, there is a cap of $2.50. So, you can do as many trips as you want on buses trains and ferries and the maximum total will be $2.50. I thoroughly recommend that this is the best day to make use of the ferries. Not only is a ferry ride across Sydney Harbour beautiful, but for $2.50 it is a real bargain. Normally a return trip from Circular Quay (where ferries depart and arrive) to Manly Beach and back to Circular Quay for example, would be about $14 AUD. But if you use the Opal Card, and take the ferry on Sunday, the maximum cost is $2.50.
Likewise, you could catch a train all the way from Central to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains on Sunday and it will only cost you $2.50 ...
The other tip is that once you have done 8 paid trips (whatever length) in a week (commencing Monday) then the rest of your trips in the week (whatever the length) are FREE.
There are some other rules etc....
Look at the website, and there is more information on that.
I use the Opal card practically every day.
Also, it does not expire. So if you have unused credit, and return to Sydney in a year, you can use it again. The credit does not expire. Or, you could give the card to someone if you think you will not return to use it.*
If you have an Iphone or an Ipad and plan on using public transport in Sydney (and various other Australian and a few US cities - though I have only tested it in Sydney) you absolutely must download this app and use it (along with the other must have – an Opal Card – (see my separate review)).
While the ad free version of the app is cheap and has a few additional features (more useful to a resident) I settled for the free version and it fully met my needs and the ads were not at all obtrusive or annoying.
While I feel that already having a general knowledge of the layout of Sydney and its transport system probably helped me a bit it is not necessary especially when it comes to ferries, light rail and trains where the options are more limited. If using it for buses ensure you look at the route on the map included prior to deciding on a particular bus as you could end up on one that travels miles to get a few hundred yards down the road.
The app gives you access to live information and you can actually ‘see the bus coming along its route’ towards you. The accuracy of this is dependent on the accuracy of the vehicles tracking device and satellite connections so do keep your eye on the road as the bus may have passed your stop before it arrives at it on your ipad/iphone!
The app can be used for planning your next journey, seeing where the nearest bus stop, train station etc is as you stand in the street together with a list of buses etc next departing from it or any other stop you select.
Another nifty feature is that alerts about traffic disruptions and service changes are automatically shown as relevant to your position/chosen route.
Once you are on the bus, train, etc you can track your journey to firstly ensure you are on the route you wanted to be and secondly to ensure you get off at the right stop.
All in all a great app. It saved me so much time and worry in addition to being fun and easy to use. The images attached are courtesy of the NextThere's ITunes app page because I am to lazy to take and upload photos of it on my device!
I imagine there would be apps available for other devices but will leave that to you to investigate as applicable.
This bus can be booked by going to the airport concierge, where they will arrange it for you. It's located in the main lobby of the airport, near the blue sign that says "Meeting Point" and opposite the Money Exchange. It's AUD 12-16. Going to my hostel was 16 AUD and on the way back to the airport it was 12 AUD. I'm not sure why that is. But it's in the above listed price range. It's much better way to go then a taxi, which my French friend at the hostel told me, was 65 AUD to get to the destination.
You can buy your ticket at your hotel or some convienence stores in town, if not at the airport.
I did it by public bus and it was great and inexpensive. Take bus #400 outside of the arrivals area to Mascot, tell the driver you want to transfer at Mascot to a bus to the CBD, he will let you know where to get off, the driver was very helpful, you then need to transfer, cross the street and look to your right and you will see a bus stop, most buses that stop there will take you into the Central Business District, just ask the driver if your unsure, they are most helpful. I believe I paid about $3.00 for each bus and it took about 50 minutes total. I got off at the Central Train Station but the bus will continue into the CBD. It was easy, interesting and I enjoyed it. $15.00 for the train, what a rip off for a 10 minute ride. I took the bus back to the airport also. Don't be diswayed by those that might post a negative regarding this. Easy, fun and simple.
Save your money and take a bus from the Airport to the central business district. It does take a little longer, but you will save more than half of the train fare which is around AUD $15.00. Take bus #400 from the Airport to Mascot, cost AUD $3.30, once there cross the street and wait for bus #309 or 310, cost AUD $3.30 and that bus will take you to the Central Railway station or into the CBD, total time about 45 minutes, save money and take the bus.
The cheaper option to travel to the city from the airport would be the shuttle service. It'll cost around AUD 10 and gets you to the doorstep of your hotel. To wait for the shuttle, go the furthest end of the airport, near the McD. The waiting point would be just outside the airport building. If you're not sure, check out the airport information counter.
If you just want to get around the city for the day on the train, then the best ticket to use is the City Hopper.
City Hopper $6.80 Adult $4.80 Child
Includes: Unlimited travel for 1 day between 11 cityrail stations (including the city CBD circle) in the central city area.
The Day Tripper is another way to get around Sydney and also save some $$$$.
The day Tripper includes unlimited travel for 1 day using the Cityrail Network, Sydney buses and Sydney ferries. It does not include the tourist Sydney or Bondi Explorer buses.
Day Tripper $15 Adult $7.50 Child
The best way to tour around the city is to buy a Day Pass and you can use the same in the Bus, Train and even it the Water Taxis. So even if you drive your vechicle to Sydney, just park it in the hotel and use this mode....Its very difficult to find a parking space in Sydney....So be careful.
dont bother with sydney trains if you are a visiting tourist. there are free buses for tourists in the city and you can walk most distances as monuments are not that far from each other. the trains are alsways late and fairly pricy for even shortest trips.
ferry is a good option though. city to manly is a good one and slo the one to Torranga zoo. much cheaper too.
for blue mountain trips take the tour bus as it takes a while to get there by train and there is a bit of walking from the station to "the 3 sisters" (scenic area).
if there are more than 2 of you then consider taxis for your trips to airport or around town at night. buses and trains can end up costing almost the same as one taxi when you add up everones tickets.
If You are planning on spending a couple of days in sydney consider buying a red travel pass (instead of the sydeny pass which costs $110 for 3 days but includes a lot of feature you probably won't use.) It costs about $33 a week and gives you unlimited travel on
*CityRail services in the area bounded by Bondi Junction, Rockdale, Bardwell Park, Canterbury, Croydon and Chatswood stations (Where most of the attractions are)
*Sydney Buses in the red area – zones 1, 3, 6 and 7
*Sydney Ferries inner harbour services
Best advice I can give is to get a multi travel ticket which can be used on a bus, train or ferry. It's cheap and convenient. Depending on how much public transport you think you'll be doing, there's a ticket just for you - there's the Travel ten (I think you can only use this for one mode of public transport for 10 rides) and the weekly pass which can be used for all types and the best is that it is unlimited use for 1 week. If you are travelling further than the zone that comes with your ticket, you just pay the difference.
the public train system is excellant compared to most other railway systems in the country, the trains are so frequent that even if you're late there is sure to be another following it in less then 10 minutes.
If you plan for a whole week exploring Sydney Center, buying a weekly TravelPass is the best way to do. The RED (cheapest) one will do it just fine; including unlimited bus and train rides from Airport to the city -- around city area -- Bondi Junction -- up to North Sydney (St. Leonards / Chatswood) I'd say the public transportation system here is one of the best I've ever experienced, not so confusing (unlike New York Metro), clean and safe. The buses run till midnight and so as most of the trains. The TravelPass can be bought at any train stations, travel information kisoks, news stands or even grocery stores!!
Ferries are a great way to see Sydney. They are much nicer to travel on than trains so if you have the opportunity, go for a ride on one even if it's just to see the sights. If you see something you like you can get off and have a good look.