Public transport in Sydney
|The factual accuracy of parts of this article (those related to article) may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (February 2013)|
Public transport in Sydney is provided by an extensive network of public transport operating by modes including road, rail and water transport. 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 became 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.
Ticketing and fares
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. Since the failure of the Tcard project, the Government has recommenced the process of introducing smart card integrated ticketing to Sydney's public transport network.
Across much of the network, 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. Prices quoted are for single full-fare prices and do not include discounts available for electronic tickets, such as myki in Melbourne or go card in Brisbane.
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 large 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 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 Westbus. 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-Way's:
Additional bus networks operate in the Outer Sydney region, which include:
Passenger rail services within Sydney are provided by Sydney Trains. Fares are calculated on the basis of distance travelled. Sydney's suburban commuter rail service consists of a complex system of integrated railway lines, of which most run through the city underground. All city trains consist of eight double deck carriages with two crew members on board - driver and guard. Trains run from 4am until around 1am seven days a week with Nightride bus services covering the network throughout the night when trains are not operating.
Following the 2000 Olympics performance of on-time running declined, particularly in 2003. This was attributed to a major high speed derailment at Waterfall in Sydney's South in which a number of passengers were fatally and significantly injured. The result was a major compliance crackdown and speed limit review which slowed train services and threw the timetable into chaos. A new timetable was introduced in 2005 improving on-time running.  Public anger resulted in the continued poor performance of Sydney's commuter rail system, despite the introduction of new timetables, employment of more drivers and large infrastructure projects called the Clearways project.
In October 2012, a report published by PwC found the rail system performed poorly compared to many metro services from 27 other major world cities. Sydney was ranked as the fourth-worst public train system, beating only Los Angeles, São Paulo and Johannesburg for operation efficiency and coverage, while being proven to have the most expensive tickets of any major city public transport system.  Work is underway on the Rail Clearways Project, a series of infrastructure upgrades aiming to "untangle" the network and reduce the interdependence of the separate lines.
NSW TrainLink Interurban trains operate from Central to Wollongong, Kiama and Nowra on the South Coast Illawarra, Bowral and Goulburn Southern Highlands, Katoomba, Lithgow and Bathurst Blue Mountains, and Hawkesbury River, Gosford, Wyong, Central Coast, Newcastle, Maitland, Scone and Dungong |Newcastle]] - Central railway station. This station is also the terminus for NSW TrainLink trains to numerous destinations in country New South Wales, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as the Indian Pacific to Adelaide Sth Aust., and Perth Western Australia.
Trams and light rail
Sydney once had the Southern Hemisphere's largest tram network. Patronage peaked in 1945 at 405 million passenger journeys. The system was in place from 1861 until its winding down in the 1950s and eventual closure in 1961. It had a maximum street mileage of 291 km (181 miles) in 1923. A short heritage tramway operated by the Sydney Tramway Museum has linked Loftus railway station and the Royal National Park since the 1990s.
In 1997, trams returned to Sydney in the form of a short light rail line between Central and Pyrmont. The line was extended twice and is now 12.8km long. A second line, passing through Sydney's CBD from Circular Quay to the south eastern suburbs is due to commence construction late 2014/early 2015 and be completed in 2019/2020
Sydney Ferries, another State government-owned organisation, 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:
- Church Point Ferry, from Church Point to Scotland Island
- Cronulla and National Park Ferry, from Cronulla to Bundeena
- Dangar Island Ferries, from Brooklyn to Dangar Island
- Matilda Cruises, from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour and Lane Cove
- Palm Beach Ferry, from Palm Beach to Great Mackerel Beach and the Basin, and to Ettalong Beach and Wagstaffe
- Palm Beach & Hawkesbury River Cruises, from Palm Beach to Patonga
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
- "4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2008". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 23 July 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Sydney Light Rail Program". Transport for NSW. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Transport in Sydney". Destination NSW. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Forster, Clive 1996 Australian Cities: Continuity and Change. Oxford University Press
- New Tcard carries $16m annual excess, 13 April 2010, ZDnet
- Public Transport Users Association. "Fare Comparison". PTUA Survey. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
- 2000 "Bus Users in Sydney" Report from the Transport Data Centre, part of Transport NSW – provides state & private bus trips taken, total derived from that. "About Transport in New South Wales" page from Transport NSW[dead link] – provides total trips taken (about 2 million), "about half" derived from that and total bus trips taken.
- "Yearly On-Time Running". CityRail. 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-11-21. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
- CityRail (2002). Rail Clearways
- Kerr, J. and A. Smith. 22 July 2004. Panic stations over CityRail driver exodus. Sydney Morning Herald
- Kerr, J. 4 December 2004. Terminal dilemma. Sydney Morning Herald
- "Transport and Infrastructure better in Mumbai than Sydney:PwC report". smh.com.au. 15 Oct 2012. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
- "Sydney Ferries". Transport for NSW. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2013. "In 2011-12, 173,329 ferry services were scheduled, carrying 14.7 million passengers."
- NSW TransportInfo – comprehensive information on trains, buses and ferries.
- NSW Bike Plan – Bicycle Information for New South Wales