The ticketing system for Sydney's public transport is antiquated and poor. There is no comprehensive system, and there is no stored value card. There are well over 20 ticket types in common use. It can be worth spending a little time understanding where you will be travelling, as some of the tickets can save considerable amounts over multiple trips, especially if you are going to be taking ferries. Bus drivers will check you buy or validate a ticket on entry. Ferry hands will check tickets. Trains have ticket barriers at city and major suburban stations. Minor suburban stations are open. Inspectors are renowned for their intimidating behaviour and will generally not accept any excuses. They issue a ticket on the spot and post you a reminder to pay.
Children aged 15 years and under are entitled to a discount, except on private buses, where they must be 14 or under. Also, on ferries (except private ferries), buses (except private buses) and trains, you pay for only the first child when accompanied by a parent or grandparent, the other children in the same family allowed for free. Usually, no family identification is ever required, so anything that resembles a family unit will have to pay for only the first child. Children 3 years and under travel free.
Cityrail train tickets allow you to make as many transfers as required but you may not break your journey (i.e. leave a station), or your ticket will become invalid. Other forms of transport do not permit any forms of transfer, and you will need a ticket for each trip or some form of pass ticket (described below).
- Single tickets are generally available for all forms of public transport, covering a single trip (one bus, one ferry, or until you leave the train station). Fares are distance based, and you have to nominate your destination when purchasing. You can buy tickets for cash on all services except prepay-only buses, for which there is usually a cash alternative (i.e. a slower bus). Single bus tickets are also available at newsagents and convenience stores near bus stops. All bus stops within the Sydney CBD are pre-pay only on weekdays between 7AM and 7PM. If boarding a bus at any of these stops you will not be able to pay on the bus and will need a pre-pay ticket.
- Ten bus or ten ferry tickets are available at a 20% discount over normal fares, these are called travelten or ferryten. You can use them for multiple passengers travelling together, i.e 5 trips for two people. Tickets are distance based, so all the trips taken on the ticket must be for the same ferry zones or number of bus sections. There is no equivalent on the trains. You can buy travelten tickets at newsagents or convenience stores near bus stops, or at train station ticket windows (even though you can't use them on the train). The tickets do not expire.
- Return tickets on the trains after 9AM in the morning or on weekends are considerably cheaper. There is no discount before 9AM on weekdays. The return trip can be made anytime up to 4AM the following day, or on a nightride bus the next morning. There are no return tickets on buses or ferries. The off-peak discount is not available for single tickets. Children pay a maximum of $2.60 to for a return trip in Sydney on the trains off-peak (plus the airport gate fee for airport line stations).
- For unlimited use of Sydney Buses (not private buses), trains and Sydney Ferries (not private ferries) you can purchase a single day unlimited use daytripper ticket (adults $17, children $8.60).
- If you are considering purchasing daytrippers for more than three days, consider a travelpass, which is valid for 7 days. These are based on colour and zones. A red one ($38.00) will cover everything within 10km of the city--which is pretty much all the average tourist needs. A green one ($46.00) covers everything the red one does and includes also Manly and Parramatta by ferry and Olympic Park by train; a yellow one ($50.00) will get you to Parramatta by train; a purple one ($60.00) will get you all the way to Palm Beach and Royal National Park for 7 days. Purchase after 3PM and you get the remainder of that day and the next 7 days. Daytrippers and travelpass tickets cannot be used on private buses, which operate further away from the city centre; very few average tourists would ever need to worry about those.
- A cityhopper ticket covers unlimited train travel around the city centre stations, including Kings Cross and North Sydney for $8.00. At $3.20 for a single train ticket, you really need to be making more than 3 train trips in the city centre to make this worthwhile. Take the free bus instead if travelling after 9AM and before 3:30PM.
- A SydneyPass tickets, allows unlimited travel for up to 8 days including tourist services. Consider this only if you want to take the tourist Sydney Explorer services.
- A Family Funday Sunday Ticket. These tickets are to encourage family travel on public transport on Sundays. They are $2.50 each and allow unlimited travel across a wide area of central and suburban Sydney including Newcastle and Wollongong on buses, trains and ferries. Most private bus companies also accept this ticket. The group must consist of at least 1 adult and child related by family. Children under 4 years of age travel free. Tickets are available from ticket sellers and bus drivers. Better value than most other tickets on Sundays. Although there are many opportunities for unlimited exploring with this ticket on a Sunday take care if planning to use outer suburban or regional buses, many of which run extremely infrequently or not at all on a Sunday.
Sydney video in DivX Quality:
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