If you’re new to Sydney, or you just enjoy seeing the city as you go to your destination, then taking a bus is a great way to get to know Sydney.
Not only do the buses have somewhat more reach around he city than the trains, but they also provide you with the opportunity to tour the city without having to walk around on those hot summer days! Or cold ones…I mean…it doesn’t get that cold…but hey if you’re cold you’re cold!
The bus system is operated by NSW Transit Authority, and requires an Opal card to pay the contactless fare determined by how far you travel. It’s a tap-on, tap-off system so make sure you tap-off to get the correct fare! If you want to plan your trip ahead to find out how much your bus journey will cost you you can check out the NSW Transit website.
Opal card? I bet it’s really cool and ‘Australian-like’!
Sadly no…it’s just a card that says ‘Opal’ on it…and it’s black. This is the one you will most likely use if you are a visitor or INTERNATIONAL student:
The card itself is free which is a plus considering that in London you have to pay £5 (USD 6.27 / AUD 8.24) to get the card ON TOP of the initial money needed to pay for the transport. So that’s a plus! But’s still pretty ugly and dull.
So how do I bus? Is it hard?
Ha. Funny story about the buses: They are hardly on time (something everyone here seems calm about), there are no stop notifications on the bus which means you will have to fend for yourself with Google Maps to find your way, and the buses themselves aren’t exactly equipped for a lot of standing passengers. Look there’s loads of emotion towards these buses…but those are the main warnings I have for you.
If you want to know about my personal feelings towards these part-time godsends, part-time nightmares, see my first ride in Sydney post.
Now there are a few different types of bus stops to be aware of because some only serve students on school days, while others may only hail night-buses. The night and day bus stops usually have a timetable on or near the sign to give you an idea about what time your bus will arrive. Again BE WARNED the times are estimates. Always arrive earlier than the predicted time on an app or timetable to ensure you catch your bus. If you don’t, you may end up waiting an extra 30-45 minutes for the next one! And trust me, sitting there awkwardly for 45 minutes…people begin to think you’re creepy…
Umm…the signs? Please…
Right those signs! See below:
If you’re going to bus, have some confidence about yourself. If you were like me in 2012 and a bit of diva who drove everywhere you will have to suck it up and go above and beyond at times to hail a bus! But the drivers are really nice…so they will most likely stop for you even if you just missed them. Unlike London bus drivers who will savor your misery at having missed them…these drivers here in Sydney are more forgiving 😉 .
If you aren’t sure which bus to take you can also hail a bus and ask them. Again VERY nice people they will help you so don’t worry!
Google Maps will also be your friend…I’ve…come to love it like a brother that guides me home when I can’t catch a bus that’s on time. I ran up my dad’s phone bill when I first arrived in Sydney because of it, but I arrived safely and that’s all that mattered 🙂
Finally there is this nifty app called Moovit that I recently discovered upon moving here. As an impatient Londoner I can assure you this app has so far held the most reliability with bus arrival times, and it has spared many others seeing that impatient rage…as I wait 45 minutes for my next bus…
The best part? IT’S FREE!!
You mentioned you ran up your dad’s phone bill?
Okay so here’s what happens when you ride a bus in Sydney: There are no stop indicators, so you need to pay close attention to your surroundings in order to eyeball where you need to get off. If you miss your stop you might get charged more (remember the bus fare is calculated based on distance), and the stop may be farther…down a hill…that you will now have to walk back up. So if you can either ask the driver to let you know when you’re stop is coming up, or use Moovit or Google Maps to see your upcoming stop.
And when you get REALLY good at bus-sing about you can eyeball it like me!
Just kidding I uh…I still use an app.
The seating? You seemed pretty upset about that…
The buses have more seats than standing space which can be a pain as you try to SQUEEZE between people to get through to the exit. The exit that is, by the way, in the middle of the human carnage that comes between 5-7.30 pm. If you are going to take a bus I say take it before or after those times, but if you must (you brave soul) sit near the exit if you can. It lessens your rage and the amount of awkward touching that comes from scooting through a sea of people.
A plus is that you can exit the ‘entrance’ of the bus (just TAP OFF) as well so as I said, sit near an exit!
If you’ve got a long ride feel free to sit in the back. Chances are people will be less inclined to walk and sit back there.
And one more thing: It can get cramped in there if you have a lot of stuff. So save the heavy suitcases for the trains yeah? There’s hardly any room for people and buggies do you think we have room for your overweight checked bag you haggled to get considered underweight because you’re cheap (or a student…no judgment guys)? No we don’t. The buses have AC but the shade thrown your way for bringing that luggage on board will keep you uncomfortably warm.
Well I think that covers the crash course in bus-sing about Sydney. I may have resentment towards them but I do use it every day to get to school. And it drops me right at my classroom…so I’m not too against them!
And one more tip: if you travel on Sunday your fare caps off at $2.50 so you can go as far as you want without the high price!
I hope this helped some and feel free to Tweet or email me any questions you have! If you haven’t already be sure to read up on riding the trains in Sydney as well!