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Getting around Sydney

There is a transport option in Sydney for everyone – from school students, city commuters and weekend-explorers. It has a great network of public transport that you can take advantage of. Besides the trains, ferries and buses, driving in Sydney can be quite stress-free.

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Sydney is a lovely, cosmopolitan city to live in. Spread over 1120 square kilometres and with a population that is just over five million, it is has a great vibe to it. However, if you are planning to make the city your base, it is important that you know what to expect when it comes to commuting – for work or otherwise.

Sydney offers commute options including trains, light rail, bus and ferry services. This is of course, if you choose public transport over driving yourself around. The traffic situation in Sydney, for those who choose to drive is similar to most international cities. Commuting within Central Sydney and the suburbs around it will not require a car. However, the further away you move from the centre, the more essential a car of your own becomes. The roads see a fair bit of congestion at peak hours, however with the roads being so well planned, you won’t feel the stress of commuting on them.

Driving in Sydney

Kiwis with a valid NZ driver’s licence are allowed to drive in Australia for a maximum of three months after arriving. The road rules are almost identical to NZ, and the roads are similar too. Once you’ve been in Australia for more than three months, you will have to get your NZ licence converted to a NSW licence. You’ll need ID and then simply visit a service centre and the process is fairly straightforward from there.

Petrol costs in Sydney do not fluctuate too much. Expect to pay around 150 cents per litre (as at August 2019). General traffic in the central business district can be hectic. Commuting during off peak hours can really be helpful to decrease your commute time, if you can do so. Public transport will get you to your destination faster during peak hours.

Parking in Sydney

Parking your car can be quite an expensive affair in Sydney. If your workplace does not have free or subsidised parking, you must be prepared to pay as much as AUD50 a day at public car parking lots. These are available on an annual or short-term basis on advance payments, but the price will depend on the location.

What you should know is that apartment owners with designated car parking spaces but no cars of their own, often rent out their slot at reasonable rates. These can be rented for a year at one go. Dedicated sites, as well as the classifieds in newspapers, are the places to look for such options. Parking prices get cheaper the further away from the CBD you go. Luck often plays an important part in finding a good park—if a work colleague is leaving, see if you can wangle their spot.

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Public transport into Sydney

In Sydney, public transport is reliable and gets you to your destination quickly. The Opal card is a free smartcard ticket which you top up to use on trains, buses, ferries as well as light rail. You can order a card online, or over-the-counter from most local dairies and newsagents. Then, you can top up online and you’re ready to go. Simply tap on and tap off when you use any public transport.

Peak hours for public transport are crowded but the advantage is being able to commute to CBD locations faster than private transportation. If you live and work close to a train station, then this is the ideal mode of transport. Train ticket prices depend on your starting and ending points. You can buy weekly or yearly tickets as well as the Opal card.

The train is not easily accessible to all areas, and this is where the bus system bridges the gap, particularly in the Greater Sydney area. Dedicated bus lanes in some parts of central Sydney reduce travel time. There are some times however, when travel by bus or personal transport can take the same amount of time. This is something to factor into your daily travel schedule.

Commuting from key satellite towns

The outskirts of Sydney have some lovely residential areas. A number of people choose to live here while working in the CBD. If you choose to do so, it is important to find the right place that is close to transport networks. There are a few towns that are better connected that many others.

Some things to keep in mind would be to look for a home in areas that are well connected with public transport. Look for train stations with regular services, especially around Penrith, Gosford, and Newcastle. Another popular choice is The Northern Beaches.

Commuting by ferry

Sydney is one of the few cities in the world where you can take the ferry to work. The city has a large network that facilitates the area from Paramatta to Manly and Watsons Bay. This is often the cheapest and most efficient means of transport for people.

Public transport is efficient and organised

Driving yourself is a simple option and the roads and rules are the same as in NZ. Just remember after three months in Aussie that you’ll need to get a NSW licence.

In general, the transportation system in Sydney is efficient and comes with a number of options. If you work within the CBD, it’s going to be quicker and cheaper to take public transport to work than your own private car. Remember this when looking for your new home, and choose a place that’s close to train or bus stations.

There are also Ubers and taxis, for those nights when the 1km walk to the train station seems too long… or the heels too high.

Transportnsw also has good information and links to timetables, news, maps etc.

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