You might be thinking, Hmm, what’s so special about public transport?!, but let me tell you, this is such a fascinating topic for me. It wasn’t before, no where near it, but now I am continuously being impressed by the transportation system here in Sydney.
Taking the bus is such a mundane everyday task. But not for me! Not anymore! I knew that being in a new country, I would need to learn how to do certain things, but learn to take the bus? Hmm…
First of all, before even thinking of taking the bus, you need to get yourself an Opal card. Most (or all) public transport have very limited dealings with physical money. It is safer and less of a hassle. So you need to get an Opal card which is free but the minimum top-up is $20 so in other words, you pay $20 for the card and get $20’s worth of travelling money on the card. I got mine at a convenience store in a shopping mall. You can only do $20, $40, $60,… top-ups, you get the idea. They are done at any convenience store or you can also register your card online and do an online top-up or have it automatically top-up your card when it goes below $10. And if you do register your card, you don’t need to worry about losing your card! They really do try to make your life easier here.
If you think that’s awesome, I haven’t reached the best part yet! There’s an app you can download called “TripView” (Only the lite version is free but it’s fine, it just doesn’t allow you to save your searches). You can choose your location and destination and it will tell you which buses you can take and at exactly what time and in how many minutes the next bus will arrive. It is so a.c.c.u.r.a.t.e!!! I can’t even believe it. It’s too good to be true! You can also use the 131500 website for the same purpose. I’ve heard some locals complain about the buses but obviously, I mean obviously, they’ve never lived in a third world country hahaha. This is like gold to me! (slight exaggeration)
This is the interior of a bus. The 2 spaces allocated (behind the small device) on either side of the bus are for your lugguage, bags, I’ve even seen kids sit up there. And there are usually 2 or 3 of those small devices in a bus, that’s where you tap your Opal card as you get on and off the bus. It will register where you got on and as you get off, you tap it again and it will deduct an amount from your card. Depending on how far you go, it will calculate accordingly and automatically deduct it from your card. It is much faster and no need for a “controller bis” who goes through each passenger to collect money or an “inspecter bis” to check if you’ve paid. (Labour is so expensive here btw)
If ever you forget to tap out, or think you’re being clever by not tapping out, it will automatically deduct the highest amount thinking you’ve gone to the last stop of the bus route. So don’t do it!
Last week I took the bus home from the city by myself and as I got on the bus and tried to tap my card, the machine said “Closed” and the bus driver simply said not to worry about it and to take a seat. So I got a free ride home lol! Apparently because their system was down, they take full responsibility for it so they don’t charge you. I can just imagine how this situation would’ve been very different back in Mauritius. They don’t really miss the opportunity to extract money from you, do they?
I still remember my first train ride like it was yesterday (it was actually around a month ago). I was looking forward to it! When taking the trains, the card machines are found at various access gates at the train stations, not on the train. So same thing, you have to tap your card to gain access to the platforms and again as you leave the station.
I didn’t know what to expect as I had never been on one before but it’s not quite what I had imagine it would be like. It felt a bit wobbly. It kept moving from left to right! These are not like bullet trains, just regular trains I think, so it wasn’t going as fast as I thought it would. It was nevertheless a pleasant experience. I’ll probably look back on this post in the future and laugh at my noobness!
The same “TripView” app or 131500 website can be used to plan your trips by train.
For one of my job interviews, I had to travel from Town Hall to King’s Cross station in Darlinghurst on my own (yes, I’m a big girl now). Fortunately for the TripView app and google maps! (and my brother) I might possibly not have made it otherwise haha.
I hope you enjoyed this post and the bliss of my ignorance concerning first world public transportation!
My next post will be about my first time trying out a food truck!