transportation, tram in Sydney

Transport in Sydney: 5 Different Ways To Get Around The City

From riding buses and trains to trams and ferries, there are numerous ways of navigating through Sydney with ease. If you’re moving to Australia and wondering how exactly transport in Sydney will be, look no further!

Sydney is not only known for landmarks like its Sydney Opera House, Bondi Beach and Harbour Bridge. This popular state is also known as a multicultural hub with tons of shopping, places to eat and things to see. If you’re travelling to Sydney or moving there sometime soon, it’s important to be aware of the various forms of transport so that you can explore the state with ease.

Australia boasts the world’s largest tram system, and Sydney clearly depicts that. With the highest rate of public transport usage among the Australian capital cities, Sydney has more than 80 percent of weekday trips being made by public transport. So if you’re waiting to get your driver’s license or find purchasing a car too much of a hassle, this is good news for you!

Locals travelling in Sydney use public transport like buses, trains, ferries and the tram, much like the rest of Australia. In fact, there are 8 rail lines with 170 stations in Sydney, as well as more than 600 bus routes. You can also pay for your transport seamless by using an Opal card, that allows you to just tap and go.

Although using public transport is the most popular mode of transport, it’s not the only method in Sydney. Some other ways of getting around town include driving, cycling, walking or taking a taxi. This guide will give you an overview of all the different modes of transport in Sydney!

1. Sydney Trains

SYDNEY – NOVEMBER 8, 2015: Subway station interior. More than one million passengers use city subway each weekday

Sydney Trains is the operator of the suburban passenger rail network in Sydney and is also managed by Transport for NSW. These train services are a network of a hybrid urban-suburban rail system that’s mostly underground, with 8 lines and 170 stations that cover an 813 k.m. track. So rest assured that wherever you’re headed to in Sydney, these trains will take you there.

The train runs from 4.30 a.m. to midnight, but rest assured that you’ll still be able to take the NightRide buses if you’re planning on heading home late. Many NightRide services leave the city from bus stops near Town Hall Station. During weekdays, especially peak hours, train services are more frequent for those rushing to work.

Some train lines include the North Shore & Western line, which covers Berowra and Emu Plains, the Bankstown Line that covers the City Circle and Liverpool, and the Cumberland Line that covers Schofields and Leppington. There is also an Aiport & South Line that covers City Circle and also gives you a route to the Airport.

Sydney Trains are also part of the Opal ticketing system that is used in NSW, Australia. Opal cards are smartcard tickets that allow you to quickly touch and go when paying for public transport in NSW. You top up your card and tap on and off to pay for your train fare or bus fare. It also gives you cheaper fares or discounted fares if you travel outside peak hours. If you’re wondering how to top up your Opal card, you can do it online or through a machine usually available at train stations.

Head here to register for your Opal card.

2. Trams (Light Rail)

Modern red tramway on George street in Sydney CBD with people bording the tramway on station
Sydney, Australia – January 26, 2020: Modern red tramway on George street in Sydney CBD with people bording the tramway on station

Another fun mode of travelling in Sydney is through the Sydney Light Rail system, that’s also run by Transport in NSW. The Sydney Light Rail system has a 12 k.m. route with 19 various stops, running through Surry Hills to Moore Park, then to Kensington and Kingsford via Anzac Parade and Randwick via Alison Road and High Street.

Also known as the tram, the light rail system in Sydney was first implemented in 1997. The Light Rail is a popular option since not only is it cheaper than buses, but can also hold more riders in terms of capacity. It also operates from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., making it a convenient mode of transport on a late night out.

Just like the Sydney Trains system, Sydney’s Light Rail system also utilises the Opal ticketing system that allows you to pay seamlessly and hassle-free. The cost of a Light Rail fare depends on the distance travelled, but begins at $3.20 and can go up to $4.87.

Check out Sydney Light Rail’s schedule and routes here.

3. Bus

Traffic on Eastern Distributor and public railway crossing bridge, with buildings and Horizon apartments skyscraper
Sydney, NSW, Australia – October 30, 2017: Traffic on Eastern Distributor and public railway crossing bridge, with buildings and Horizon apartments skyscraper

Taking the bus is another option available for those who wish to take public transport in Melbourne! Sydney’s bus network is comprehensive, with more than 600 bus routes and many different types of bus services. Some bus routes actually operate 24 hours for 7 days a week, while the NightBus operates from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. to replace the closed Sydney Trains services.

Unlike other types of public transport in Sydney, buses can specifically bring you to your desired destination, whether it is schools, shopping centres or hospitals. They also provide transport to the outer suburbs of Melbourne that are not reachable by trains and trams. 

Sydney’s bus services no longer accept cash, so remember to bring your Opal card since even the bus services utilise them!

Find out more about Sydney’s bus services here.

4. Car

Photo credit: 123RF

While public transport in Sydney is comprehensive and affordable, travelling by car is still a popular option due to convenience and ease. In fact, in Sydney, over 60 percent of the population still travelled by car while 20 percent chose public transport.

Not everyone lives in a city where bus stops or train stations are nearby and readily available. If you wish to explore Australia and require a car, there are car-sharing services available such as FlexicarGoGetKINTOPopcar and Car Next Door. To drive in Sydney, you must have a valid overseas driving licence or International Driver Permit for the first six months of entering Australia. If you want to keep driving after, you must get an NSW driver’s licence. 

When driving in Sydney, it goes without saying that you must follow road rules. You’ll also need to get used to driving on the left-hand side of the road, sharing roads with tram services and making hook turns. If you’re looking to drive, see How To Easily Rent Or Buy A Car In Australia.

Besides driving yourself, you can also choose to hire a taxi or car service to get to your destination. Taxi services are easily recognisable and readily available, with a “taxi” sign atop their roofs. However, taxis are also one of the most expensive modes of transport in Sydney. The base fee begins at $3.60, with an additional $2.63 per kilometre.

You can hire a taxi through phone or online booking, wait at a designated taxi stand or hail from the side of the road. Every fare is metered and regulated by the government, and extra charges like road tolls and late-night surcharges can apply. 

Besides taxis, there are also plenty of ride-sharing services available such as UberDiDiOla and Shebah. Like any other ride-sharing service worldwide, you simply set your pick-up and drop-off location in the app, and the fare would show. When your ride is confirmed, the driver and vehicle information will appear, and the app will track their estimated arrival on a map. Payment is typically made through credit or debit card in the app unless you opt for cash.

5. Ferries

Photo credit: 123RF

If you’re looking for a more exciting way of getting around, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can travel within Sydney via ferry. You can eve use your Opal card to pay for these ferry trips, which can cost from $9 to $20 per trip, depending on the route.

Some ferry routes include Circular Quay to Manly, Circular Quay to Cockatoo Island, Pyrmont Bay to Watsons Bay. You can even travel to Shark Island through these ferries and have a weekend getaway surfing or fishing!

Find out more about ferries in Sydney and their routes here.

There are plenty of ways to travel in Sydney, leaving you with plenty of options to get around. if you wish to travel around Australia or live in a more rural area, we recommend buying or renting a car. if you’re fortunate enough to live next to a bus stop or train station, then grab your Opal card and head travelling! Many also choose to cycle around Sydney or even walk, the choice is yours!

If you’re commuting on foot, you’ll be glad to know that Sydney has well-developed footpaths and various walking trails in and around the city. While it is perfectly safe to walk the streets of Sydney, it’s preferred to stick to well-lit streets, especially at night. Always keep a lookout for oncoming traffic when crossing roads (cars in Sydney approach from the left-hand side), tram stops and bicycle lanes.

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