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Public transport in Sydney facts for kids

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The Hop Transport logo
The logo for public transport in NSW, dubbed 'The hop'
Central Station Grand Concourse
Grand Concourse of the Central railway station
Sydney Airport is located within close proximity to the city.
Anzac Bridge from the air
Anzac Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge leading from central Sydney to the Inner West and Northern suburbs.

Public transport in Sydney is provided by an extensive network of operating modes including commuter rail, light rail, buses and ferries. According to the 2006 census, in terms of travel to work or study Sydney has the highest rate of public transport usage among the Australian capital cities of 26.3% with more than 80% of weekday trips to/from Central Sydney being made by public transport. According to the New South Wales State Plan, the state has Australia's largest public transport system. The network is regulated by Transport for NSW, which is working towards an integrated network serving Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and the Illawarra.

Sydney's early urban sprawl can be traced in part to the development of its passenger rail network. The first rail services began in 1855, 67 years after the settlement's foundation and a tram network which began in 1861, becoming the Southern Hemisphere's largest by the 1920s. This rail infrastructure allowed working-class suburbs to develop at a large distance from the city centre. Rapid transit is a forthcoming transport service in Sydney, with an estimated completion date around 2019–2020.


In April 2010 the NSW Government introduced MyZone, a standardised fare structure, to simplify the previously complex fares. Government-run bus, train and ferry operators share an inter-operator Automated Fare Collection System, based on magnetic stripe technology.

The Opal smartcard has been introduced, with the rollout started in December 2012 and completed in December 2014.

Fares are controlled by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of New South Wales. Operators must demonstrate value to passengers before IPART will allow fare increases above the level of inflation. In practice, this has kept fares artificially low, costing the NSW Government more to provide services. The perceived need for higher fares was a key theme in the 2003 Ministerial inquiry into sustainable public transport in New South Wales.

As of January 2009, Sydney public transport prices were slightly higher than in other mainland cities.


Australian Census 2011 demographic map - Inner Sydney by SA1 - BCP field 7840 One method Bus Persons
Distribution map showing the percentage of the employed population who travel to work by bus only, according to the Australian census 2011.
Transport NSW liveried (2601 ST), operated by Sydney Buses, Bustech VST bodied Scania K280UB on Loftus Street in Circular Quay (2)
A modern Sydney bus.
Custom Coaches CB60 Evo II bodied Mercedes-Benz O500LE CNG bus (Sydney Buses) 01
One of the past Sydney Buses

Commuter bus services account for about half of the public transport journeys taken in the city on weekdays. Of the 921,000 weekday bus trips, 554,000 are provided by the State Transit Authority of New South Wales, a government authority, the remainder by a number of private-sector operators.

East of Strathfield, the majority of the bus network replaces the city's former tram network. Sydney Buses, a subsidiary of the State Transit Authority of New South Wales, operates a network tightly integrated with train and ferry services. Further from the CBD, services are generally operated by private-sector companies under contract to the NSW Government authority Transport for NSW. Under pressure from bus contracting reforms, many of the private bus companies have merged or entered into joint ventures. The largest private bus operator is ComfortDelGro Cabcharge, owners of Hillsbus. Other significant players include Punchbowl Bus Company, Busways and Transdev NSW.

Bus services in the regions surrounding Sydney are considered part of the metropolitan network. Apart from the city of Newcastle, where State Transit subsidiary Newcastle Buses & Ferries operates bus and ferry services, outer-metropolitan services are provided by the private sector under contract to Transport for NSW. Here, ComfortDelGro Cabcharge, Busways and Premier Illawarra are significant players.


Sydney's bus network has been divided into different regions. Of these regions, bus routes are classified with three-digit route numbers:

  • 100 series – Northern Beaches
  • 200 series – Northern Districts and North Shore
  • 300 series – Eastern Suburbs
  • 400 series – Inner West and Southern Suburbs
  • 500 series – North West
  • 600 series – Western Suburbs and Hills District (T-way)
  • 700 series – Outer Western Suburbs and Hills District (T-way)
  • 800 series – Outer South-Western Suburbs
  • 900 series – St George/Sutherland and South West

Special services are denoted by letter prefixes in their route number:

  • M – metrobus services (since 2010 – original metrobus services merely used two-digit route numbers, now prefixed with "M")
  • E or X – Express service (used by State Transit; "E" is used for Northern Beaches services, "X" elsewhere – private operators use other conventions)
  • L – Limited Stops service (used by State Transit, although some Limited Stops routes use normal three-digit numbers)
  • T – Services operating, at least for the most part, via a T-Way
  • S – "Shopper Hopper" route (used for some private operators' routes that typically run between morning and afternoon peaks, Monday-Friday only)
  • N – NightRide services

Currently, Sydney has two operating T-Ways:

  • The Liverpool-Parramatta T-way opened in 2003
  • The North-West T-way opened in 2007

Additional bus networks operate in the Outer Sydney region, which include:


Sydney Ferries

Australian Census 2011 demographic map - Inner Sydney by SA1 - BCP field 7843 One method Ferry Persons
Distribution map showing the percentage of the employed population who travel to work by ferry only, according to the Australian census 2011.
Sydney Ferry at Pyrmont Bay

Sydney Ferries runs numerous commuter and tourist ferries on Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River. Harbour ferries are used in equal measure by commuter and leisure users; Parramatta River ferries are overwhelmingly used for leisure and tourist trips. Sydney Ferries operates nine routes, with approximately 14,000,000 passengers per year. Sydney Ferries operates from Circular Quay Ferry Terminal, a major transport hub in Sydney's central business district, with popular routes including services to the beachside suburb of Manly and to Taronga Zoo, a major tourist attraction. Sydney Ferries also operates sightseeing cruises for tourists.

Other passenger ferry operators

Several private sector companies run passenger ferries in the Sydney region. These include:

Vehicle ferries

Several car ferries form part of Sydney's road system. These ferries are controlled by a combination of the Roads and Maritime Services and local government, and are toll-free. They include:

  • Berowra Waters Ferry, across Berowra Creek
  • Lower Portland Ferry, across the Hawkesbury River
  • Mortlake Ferry, across the Parramatta River
  • Webbs Creek Ferry, across the Hawkesbury River
  • Wisemans Ferry, across the Hawkesbury River
  • Sackville Ferry, across the Hawkesbury River

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