Taking public transport in Sydney
It’s certainly not necessary to drive in Sydney, as the city has a great, easy-to-use, accessible public transport network comprising bus, metro, train, and ferry routes.
Trains are the fastest and most efficient way to get around greater Sydney.
Sydney has nine different train lines, servicing pretty much all parts of the city including the North Shore, western suburbs, eastern beaches, and south as far as Campbelltown and Cronulla.
The main train station in Sydney is Sydney Central, between Chinatown and Surry Hills at the southern end of the CBD (Central Business District).
Trains run frequently on all lines throughout the day, seven days a week.
The City Circle line in the CBD may be the most useful line for visitors and tourists. This operates in a loop around the city centre, stopping at convenient stations for sight-seeing including Circular Quay (for ferries, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and the Rocks) and Town Hall (for Darling Harbour).
The fully automated Sydney metro system is still under development and its current range is pretty limited, running only in the southern end of the CBD and the inner western suburbs. However, if this is where you’re staying, it can be a very quick and helpful way to get to the city centre and back!
The bus network offers the most comprehensive number of services in Sydney’s public transport network. It is particularly useful for visitors who aren’t staying near a main station or those who are looking to explore the beachside and outer suburbs.
Some of the most useful routes for visitors to know are:
The 333, 380 and 381 services from Circular Quay to Bondi
The B-Line buses running from Wynyard station in the CBD all the way up through the northern beaches to Mona Vale
For a truly scenic option, the L90 runs all the way from the city centre up to Palm Beach
Boat and Ferry
Arguably the real stars of the city’s public transport network, Sydney’s public ferry services offer something truly unique to visitors – in addition to being useful commuter services, they double as attractions in themselves thanks to the superb views you get along the way!
Sydney has eight public ferry routes. Some of the most popular ones departing from Circular Quay, which offer close-up views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, include:
F3 Parramatta River ferry service to the western suburbs via trendy Balmain
F7 to the smart inner harbourside suburb of Double Bay
F6 across Sydney Harbour to Cremorne Point and Mosman Bay on the Lower North Shore
F1 out through the headlands to the northern beaches at Manly
F8 around the western harbourside suburbs to Cockatoo Island
The Opal Card – your ticket to Sydney’s public transport network
All forms of public transport within Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and the Hunter Valley are part of the Opal Card network. This is a contactless ticket system that means you can simply tap on and tap off to use the buses, boats, or trains. No need to worry about finding the right change or buying tickets!
Opal Cards also offer significant savings and benefits:
They have capped daily and weekly fares, so you’ll never overpay
There are 30% discounts on Opal fares during weekends and public holidays
Children aged 5-14, and some high school students, can register for a cheaper youth fare card
The card is registered to your name, so even if it gets stolen or lost, you won’t lose your money as this can be transferred onto a new card
It’s wise for all visitors to pick up an Opal Card when they arrive in Sydney. But if you don’t have time, don’t fear – you can also tap on to pay at Opal card readers using contactless debit and credit cards. Although this means that you will be charged the full adult fare, and be sure to use the same card to tap on and off, otherwise you could be charged higher rates.
NEED TO KNOW MORE?
The official NSW Transport website has all the information you need regarding Sydney’s public transport and the Opal network.