Getting Around in Sydney
Thanks to an extensive public transport network, getting around in Sydney is straightforward. The numerous options available not only allow new arrivals to explore the city but also gives them more choice when it comes to accommodation. Having a private vehicle is not essential but increases opportunities for expats to travel and explore Australia.
Public transport in Sydney
Sydney boasts an extensive network of public transportation which includes trains, buses, ferries, light rail and trams. It is very easy to get around Sydney on public transport, but it can become expensive if one doesn't invest in a weekly or monthly travel pass.
Sydney has a comprehensive suburban train network run by Sydney Trains. The rail service consists of a number of railway lines, most of which run through the city centre. The suburbs and the city centre are serviced well by these trains.
Trains run virtually around the clock – typically from 4am to midnight.
As fares are calculated on the basis of distance travelled, one-way tickets are fairly expensive so it is best to look into weekly, monthly or annual travel passes if one plans to be commuting regularly.
Buses are a major part of Sydney’s public transport network and are a handy way to reach spots not covered by the train network. They also run 24 hours a day and can be used as a substitute for trains if travelling in the wee hours when the trains don't run. While traffic can delay buses at peak times, buses in Sydney are frequent and are generally reliable.
Sydney Ferries is the government-owned organisation that operates the commuter and tourist ferries on Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River. Harbour ferries are those that are most used by commuters on a daily basis. There are nine ferry routes in operation – however, at low tide the ferries cannot operate and buses must be used instead.
Sydney’s light rail system is a tram route which was designed to complement the monorail. Its runs underground through rail tunnels and then on the streets like a conventional tram when it reaches the city centre. There is at present only one line of 23 stations.
Taxis in Sydney
New South Wales has a large taxi network. Most taxis are owned by small-scale operators. A taxi can be hailed either on the street or at one of the city's designated taxi ranks. For expats in Sydney without their own car, it might occasionally be necessary to use taxis (especially after a night out). But it is an expensive option.
Driving in Sydney
Because of Sydney’s extensive public transport network, most expats manage to get around without the use of a private car. Even those that do have their own vehicle avoid Sydney’s city centre area during peak hours. For expats with children, those living further out in the suburbs or those that envisage travelling through Australia for vacations or weekend trips, a private car can be useful.
Expats staying for longer than three months and planning on driving in Sydney should apply for an NSW Australian driver’s licence. Depending on nationality, and in some cases age, some expats may be exempt from tests and can simply exchange their foreign licence for an NSW licence. Others will have to take a knowledge test and driver's test to be granted a local licence. Expats should consult with the Roads and Maritime Services NSW to determine whether they qualify for an exemption.
The road conditions and signage in Sydney are of a high standard and it is not difficult getting around, except during peak times when traffic becomes a problem in the city centre. If planning on using a car outside Sydney, in more rural areas and on country roads, expats will need to be careful at night to avoid hitting large animals, especially kangaroos.
Cycling in Sydney
Sydney is a somewhat hilly city, so getting around on a bicycle might not be as easy as one might assume. Cyclists also often have to share the road with motorists, so they should take care to respect the rules of the road and be aware of motorists around them.
Walking in Sydney
The government is working hard to encourage commuters to walk for the benefit of both the environment and their personal health. The city's mild temperature's make this possible if travelling locally – some commuters purposefully take public transport only part of the way to their destination and walk the rest of the way.