Ferries, Trains and Buses- Travelling in Sydney

There are always similarities between cultures- little normalities that bring the comfort of home to a place otherwise alien. The highs and lows of public transportation are one of these similarities that bridge the gap between Pittsburgh and Sydney. Sydney’s main mode of transportation includes networks of buses,ferries, and trains. I use 2/3rds of these networks to get to my internship at Unbridled Ltd.
The office is actually located in a town south of Sydney called Illawong and thus every morning I take about an hour train ride from Central Station (it’s like a qusai snowglobe version of Grand Central Station) to the town of Padstow. From Padstow, I wait at a nearby bus stop, along with twenty or so elementary students/ senior citizens depending on the time of day and then take a thirty-five-minute bus ride to my work in Illawong. The bus ride is where the largest dissimilarities between Pitt and Sydney transportation become apparent. At Pitt, you tap your ID and go on your merry way. In Sydney not only do you have to tap your ID when you go on a bus/train station/ ferry  but you have to tap your ID when you get off. Far too many times have I forgotten to tap off when I step off the bus and frantically ( and awkwardly) try to get back on to do so. I’ve taken to holding my card in my hand for the entire duration of the bus trip in an attempt to remember to tap off when I disembark. Other than that one difference the public transportation runs pretty much the same as Pitt. As similar as the two systems are Padstow’s 8:45 AM bus to Illawong lacks the same distinct charm as the 11:00 PM 61D from Squirrel Hill. The fact that one slight modulation in transportation such as tapping off has given me so much trouble makes me feel grateful that transportation is not too different to that of Pittsburgh.
Even though the commute can get tedious at times, I do enjoy the extra time in transit, which allows me to get some work done whether it be homework, studying for the GRE or GMAT, or simply just catching up on music I may have missed in the week. There’s no great scenery to behold on either way of the commute but there’s something to be said for the simplicity of suburbia whether it be that of Sydney or that of Pittsburgh.
In terms of tips for prospective study abroad students, planning travel routes luckily run pretty similar to traveling in Pittsburgh. Google Maps tends to have all of the information on travel routes and times actively updated. I would suggest at least looking at known times and routes before leaving your residence in case you lose connection due to spotty coverage or location. I would also say that if you have the opportunity to walk around and take in the city, to do so.