Sydney in Australia
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Sydney has a good public transport system, especially in areas closer to the city area where many attractions are. You can find out timetables, fares, and routes by phoning 131 500 within Australia for the cost of a local call, or by visiting 131 500 http://www.131500.info/. The further away from the city you travel, the less frequent and comprehensive public transport services will tend to be.
The system consists of an extensive rail network, multiple buses and ferries, a single light-rail line and a tourist-oriented monorail. Unlike some other Australian systems, such as Melbourne or Brisbane, they do not share a single ticket scheme, although multi-modal tickets are available for some at a premium.
The cheapest way to use the buses, trains and ferries is to purchase one of the many travel cards: multi-use tickets typically sold at a 10-20% discount. Some (for trains, buses or multi-modal) are unlimited use within a time limit (e.g. 1 day or 1 week), others (for buses and ferries only) let you travel for ten trips but have no time limit. Information about the discounted commuter tickets http://www.cityrail.info/fares/commuter_tickets.jsp and leisure tickets http://www.cityrail.info/fares/leisure_tickets.jsphttp://www.cityrail.info/fares/leisure_tickets.jsp is available from Cityrail; otherwise a quick visit to the TransitShops in Circular Quay (cnr of Loftus & Alfred Sts) or outside the Queen Victoria Building or the information booth at Central Station will get you all the info you need. Most newsagents also stock travel cards. If you are in Sydney for a week or more, or even planning a busy day on the ferries then one of these passes will save you a few dollars, maybe even enough for an extra cold beer at the end of your travels at one of Sydney's many pubs.
Of particular interest to short-term visitors are the CityHopper ticket ($7.40 adults and $3.70 children, cheaper if bought after 10am) which allows unlimited train travel for a day in the center of the train network; the DayTripper ticket ($16 adults and $8 children) which allows unlimited travel on all metropolitan Cityrail trains, Sydney Bus services and Sydney Ferry services; and the longer term SydneyPass tickets, allowing unlimited travel for up to 8 days including tourist services. http://www.cityrail.info/fares/leisure_tickets.jsphttp://www.cityrail.info/fares/leisure_tickets.jsp An alternative is the week-long Red TravelPass which includes all trains, buses and ferries in the inner Sydney area for $35. http://www.cityrail.info/fares/travelpass.jsp
Note that there are private buses and ferries away from the city that do not accept the abovementioned travel cards and will require the purchase of cash tickets.
Travel Times and Routes
You can drive around Sydney reasonably freely, and outside of peak times travelling by car is usually at least as quick as any method of public transport. Congestion can be expected on roads to the city from 6:30am until 9:30am, and roads away from the city from around 4pm until 6:30pm. Congestion is considerably worse heading away from the city during Friday afternoon peak.
Roads are generally well signposted to the next major suburb or suburbs along the route. Only a handful of cross-city met-roads are signposted by number.
Congestion can be expected around Bondi Beach, and the other eastern suburbs beaches on summer weekends.
Travel times from the Sydney/City CBD to the Sydney outskirts can take around 45 minutes in good traffic.
Some roads, tunnels and bridges in Sydney charge tolls. They are the Harbour Bridge/Tunnel, the Eastern Distributor to the airport, the M4, M5, M7, and Lane Cove Tunnel. There is an option to pay in cash on the Harbour Bridge, Eastern Distributor, M4 and M5, but not on the M7, Harbour Tunnel or Lane Cover Tunnel which use only electronic tolling. Tolls may only be paid by purchasing an electronic pass from the tollway management up to 24 hours before or after using the road. The number to call or website to visit is displayed as you go pass the tolling point.
If you want to avoid the charges associated with an getting a toll day pass, then use the Harbour Bridge instead of the Harbour Tunnel, and use the above ground Epping Road route instead of the Lane Cove Tunnel. The Cross City Cunnel is a Sydney white elephant, and if you manage to use it at all, then you will be one step ahead of most Sydneysiders. The other toll roads all accept cash and give change, so you will be okay.
Beware that if you are in a rental car and do not call in to pay the toll, the rental car company may change an administration fee in addition to the toll, in addition to the fine to your credit card, if you do not make the effort to pay.
Parking your car in the Sydney/City Sydney CBD is possible but parking is expensive. Expect to pay up to $60 per day at some central parking lots, and around $25 even with specials. Reduced parking charges are made for early bird parking, where you must enter and leave within prescribed times. For example you can park all day at the Opera House http://www.wilsonparking.com.au/go/wilson-car-parks/nsw/sydney-opera-house for $16 provide you enter before 10, and leave between 3pm and 7pm. Expect to queue at 3:01pm, and don't arrive back at 6:59pm, as there is no grace period. Otherwise be prepared to pay $42.
Sydney/City CBD hotels invariably charge for parking for the guests.
Similar prices are charged in Sydney/North Sydney North Sydney. Parking in the inner-city, and many major suburban centres can be a matter of spending time cruising a searching for parking spots. All day street parking is rare around the city and around suburban shopping centres.
As with the rest of Australia, driving is on the left hand side of road.
Speed limits are posted in kilometres per hour. Stay alert for speed limit changes, as roads usually drop speeds through shopping centres and areas of pedestrian activity. School speed zones (40 km/h) are enforced at certain times of day on school days. Some have flashing lights, but many do not. It is up to you to check the time and know if it is a school day or not. Speed cameras often monitor these locations.
Taxis are a convenient way to get around Sydney. They can also be the only transport option available to some locations late at night when the trains and buses stop.
It is usually easy enough to flag a taxi down at the kerb in the CBD, or catch one at taxi ranks located in most suburban centres. However, beware the 3pm change over and the Friday evening rush. It can be near impossible to get a taxi between 2:30pm and 3:15pm, as many of the drivers changeover their shifts. They are similarly scarce on a Friday evening. Booking in advance is no guarantee, as these jobs are simply offered electronically to drivers, who will usually reject telephone jobs if there is plenty of work at the kerb. It is easily possible to wait an hour or more for a taxi booked 24 hours in advance on a Friday evening. Ringing the taxi company back back and complaining will often help (if the operators can relate to your problem they have the ability to offer a taxi driver an incentive to take your fare). Cancelling your job and ringing another taxi company in frustration never helps as the taxi companies have handover systems which would have seen your job handed over if another company had more capacity. You will just end up at the back of the queue again. Evenings other than Friday are usually fine.
There are two meter rates: a day rate (rate 1) with a flag fall of $3.00, a distance rate of $1.79 a kilometre, a waiting rate of $0.77 a minute and a booking fee of $1.50; and a night rate (rate 2) which adds a 20% surcharge to the distance rate. The night rate applies for journeys commencing between 10pm and 6am. You can check the rate your taxi is using by looking for a 1 or a 2 next to the current charge: if it's set to 2 it is using the night rate. The so called waiting rate is charged whenever the speed drops below 25km/h. For trips in congested traffic it is possible for large amounts of the trip to be charged at the waiting rate. All Sydney taxis are metered and taxi drivers will always charge the metered rate, adding the charges for tolls manually.
Taxis all accept all major credit cards. They charge an extra 10% on top of the fare for this.
Passengers are required to pay all tolls for their trip. In addition, passengers who are taken north over the Harbour Bridge, for which there is no toll, are required to pay the driver's southbound toll for the return into the city (currently $3). Drivers will usually take the toll roads unless you ask them not to. If you are unsure why they are asking for an amount above that shown on the meter, just ask.
Tipping is not required or generally expected. However, rounding up a taxi fare the next dollar (or five or ten dollars, depending on the base fare) is fairly common. On the other hand, don't be surprised if the driver rounds the fare down to the nearest dollar-accept with grace and good cheer.
Sydney has multiple taxi companies. Taxis Combined Services, 131 008 http://www.taxiscombined.com.au/ are the largest.
Sydney has an extensive suburban rail network operated by CityRail http://www.cityrail.info/. Sydney trains are often very crowded in peak hour, but a CityRail train may be the fastest way to get to the CBD. The complex rail network sometimes experiences delays, especially during rain.
Cityrail operates with at least a 30 minute frequency to all metropolitan stations (apart from the (dark blue) Carlingford Line and stations between Riverstone and Richmond on the (yellow) Western Line). There are usually 15 minute frequencies to major destinations and transit hubs such as Chatswood, Bondi Junction, Hurstville, Parramatta, Bankstown, Blacktown and Liverpool. The Cityrail timetable has a weekday service and a weekend and holiday service.
Cityrail also operates lines to regional cities such as Newcastle and Wollongong and into the Blue Mountains at hourly frequency. This allows you to sit back and enjoy the journey rather than suffer the hassle of driving in foreign conditions, but offers less freedom upon arrival. Regional cities and towns do offer reasonable bus services throughout the metropolitan area with routes converging on the city center and train station.
All stations are fully equipped with CCTV and trains at night have designated NightSafe carriages and station areas with emergency intercoms and security patrols, making catching trains at night a viable (and cheaper) alternative to taxis.
In addition to the discounted tickets discussed above, Cityrail has single trip and return trip tickets valid until 4am the day after purchase. There are discounted single and return trip tickets for children, students and pensioners. A return trip ticket is much cheaper than two single tickets if you purchase it after 9am (called off peak).
Outside of operating hours, between 12am (1am on Fridays and Saturdays) and 5am, NightRide buses are available on most routes within Sydney. Any CityRail train ticket is valid for the equivalent NightRide bus except a single. If you don't have a ticket, you'll need to buy a NightRide single from the driver, which is more expensive than a single for the train. NightRide buses stop at most CityRail stations and a few additional stops. They don't travel on the same routes. If you intend catching a NightRide bus home, check the NightRide route map on the back cover of each timetable or at the station while you are waiting for your train.
On weekends check for trackwork http://www.cityrail.info/trackwork/ before leaving for the station; CityRail will transfer passengers to buses if lines are closed for trackwork, and the process will add about half an hour to a typical journey. Trackwork will be advertised at the station for about a week before it begins. Train tickets, single, return or travel card, are valid on trackwork buses between the same stations.
You must always purchase a ticket for the entire journey before boarding a train from either the ticket office or from the ticket machines that are located on most stations. Ticket offices have limited opening hours at suburban stations. There is no opportunity to buy a ticket onboard or at the destination. If you are caught by an inspector travelling without a ticket the fine is at least $200 and up to $550. If you are found with a student or pensioner ticket and you don't have the appropriate authorisation card, the same fine applies. Be aware that the ticket machines accept up to $50 notes but will only give $20 in change.
Within the city area there is a light rail system run by Metro Light Rail http://www.metrolightrail.com.au/. It connects Central station to Darling Harbour, Star City Casino and the inner western suburbs.
Sydney has an extensive bus network.
Sydney buses (Government Buses)
Most of the buses in the inner city and inner suburbs are run by the government owned Sydney Buses http://sydneybuses.info/. The rest of the commuter network is run by private bus companies. These services do not compete so you will usually only have one way of getting somewhere by bus.
A Sydney bus fare depends on how far you are travelling, measured in sections of about 1.6 kilometers. Tickets can be bought in cash when boarding the bus, except on prepay-only trunk routes. State your destination to the driver. Drivers may be able to give change for a $20 note, but it pays to use lower-denomination coins and notes. One day bus-only tickets (Bustripper/$11.70) are also available when boarding the bus. All other discount tickets (10-ride/Travelten 7-day/Travelpass) must be bought in advance from newsagents or railway stations before getting on the bus.
There are two main bus termination points in the [Sydney/City CBD], at Wynyard and Circular Quay. These two points are about 10 minutes walk from each other or a one-stop train trip. You will need to make this walk if connecting from buses from North to the East or West. Check the destination of the bus. Bus Information Centres are located at both Wynyard and Circular Quay.
From midnight to 5am, most buses cease running with the exception of a few trunk routes that run at a reduced frequency.
Outside of the city and inner suburbs, private bus companies provide services to varying degrees of frequency and reliability (but generally significantly less frequent during off-peak periods and weekends). Expect many service to stop running around 9pm. They do not accept tickets from government buses or multi-modal tickets, although single fares cost the same.
Sydney Explorer http://www.sydneypass.info/sydneyexplorer/, operated by Sydney Buses. The conspicuously red Sydney Explorer visits 27 tourist destinations on a loop around the city. A day ticket (adult $39, child $19, family $97) allows unlimited rides for one day and services run every 20 minutes. Day tickets also allow access to the Bondi Explorer services. Two day tickets are also available.
. More than just a utilitarian means of transport, the ferries are a great way to see the harbourside. The best ferry excursion for visitors is from Circular Quay to Manly. Be prepared to take a stunning photograph of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as you leave Circular Quay.
By light rail and monorail
The Metro Light Rail and Monorail may be useful for travelling between Sydney City and Darling Harbour, the casino, and Pyrmont.
The Metro Light Rail http://www.metromonorail.com.au/http://www.metromonorail.com.au/ operates one route from Central to Lilyfield via Haymarket (Paddy's Market, Entertainment Centre), Darling Harbour, and Star City Casino. The Light Rail is rather small, yet it is very reliable. Combined tickets are available when travelling on Cityrail and the Metro Light Rail (from
The Sydney Monorail http://www.metromonorail.com.au/(http://www.metromonorail.com.au/) runs on a loop through connecting Town Hall, World Square and Darling Harbour. The monorail is really only for tourists, and is more a ride than it an effective means of transport. It is expensive, and if travelling to Darling Harbour it can be just as quick to walk as it is to catch the monorail.
The Metro Light Rail is cheaper, and goes further than the monorail.
If you want to see a particular area of the city, a bicycle may be suitable. A number of on-road and shared pedestrian/cycle paths are available, especially radiating from the city, however the city itself is not particularly cyclist friendly. Sydney is also a reasonably hilly city, and many areas are not suitable for inexperienced or unfit riders. Maps and other information for cyclists around the inner city are provided by the local government. http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/AboutSydney/ParkingAndTransport/Cycling/.
It is illegal for adults to ride bicycles on footpaths unless they are especially marked for cyclists or they are cycling with children under 12. Bicycle helmets are required by law, as are lights and reflectors at night. Road rules applying to cyclists and maps of cycleways in the greater Sydney area are provided by the state government authority http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/usingroads/bicycle/index.html. Bicycles can be taken on all Cityrail trains, but a child fare must be paid during weekday peak hours.
Bonza Bike Tours, + 61 (0)2 9331 1127 mailto:email@example.com http://www.bonzabiketours.com/. Bonza Bike Tours offers bike hire/rental for full and half days. They offer top of the line equipment, and hire/rental includes a bicycle (men's or women's), helmet, bike lock, bike mounted bag (for smaller items), and secure storage for larger bags while you are out. Bonza can provide you with information on some of the best areas to visit.
When to go
. The city and its suburbs (many of which are cities in their own right) form a vast metropolitan area.
Owing to the city's size and variety, the districts of Sydney remain notoriously difficult to categorise.
Sydney has similar crime issues to most large Western cities. Be on the lookout for the usual big city crime problems such as pickpocketing, and exercise caution on the rail system late at night, as you would in other cities. It is generally advisable to travel in the carriage closest to the guard's compartment, which is marked with a blue light on the outside of the train. Drunk people are quite common, especially after dark.
Be careful in the red light area of Kings Cross at night. Although the main street in this area has been cleaned up immeasurably by the police, crime does still occur and pickpocketing or mugging can happen to the unwary. Women should take care at bars and keep an alert companion at hand, especially in the central hostel area, as there have been recent reports of attacks using date rape drugs.
Certain Sydney suburbs such as inner-city Redfern, and south-western areas such as Lakemba have a higher than average crime rate, but most tourists are unlikely to venture there.
Sydney is the oldest European settlement in Australia, having been founded as a British penal colony on 26 January 1788 (now celebrated as Australia Day, the national public holiday, with major festivities around the city and the Harbour).