Getting Around Down Under

It has been almost an entire month since I have arrived in Sydney, so I have had time to explore the city a good amount. Between traveling to and from class, my internship and all the places I have had a chance to see in the Sydney area so far, I think it is safe to say I’ve figured out how to navigate this amazing city.

As students through CAPA, Pitt’s global education partner, we are lucky enough to have our own building on the TAFE New South Wales Sydney Metro campus where we have our weekly classes. The CAPA center is only about a fifteen minute walk from our apartments through the cool, quirky neighborhood of Ultimo which is home to tons of small cafes and coffee shops. I am fortunate that the office for the company that I am working for is only about another 5-10 minute walk from the CAPA center, so on days when I have class in the morning and work in the afternoon, I have plenty of time to stop and grab a bite before my shift begins.

On the days when I have only work, my commute usually involves taking one of Sydney’s two light rail lines. One of the best parts of the public transit here in Sydney is the ease of identifying how to get from point A to point B. For example, the light rail lines are called L1 and L2, the train lines are called T1, T2, T3, etc., and the ferry routes are called F1, F2, etc. Coming from the New York metro area where the subway lines seem to be a random array of numbers and letters, the system here was very easy to learn. The L1 light rail stop is very close to our apartment building, so in the morning of my work-only days I will hop on that line and take it two stops where I get off and walk the last 5 minutes or so to my office.

As CAPA students, we are provided with OPAL cards, which we just tap on at the stop where we get on the train, light rail, ferry, or bus we are riding on, and then tap off at the stop where we disembark, allowing our cards to be charged accordingly based on har far you traveled. These cards are our keys to the city and beyond. We have used the public transportation system to visit multiple different beaches, historical landmarks, and natural wonders like the Blue Mountains. My favorite trip I’ve taken via public transport so far has been the ferry ride to Manly Beach from downtown Sydney. The ride takes us right past the Sydney Opera House and the mouth of Sydney Harbour, granting some of the best views of the city before arriving at one of my favorite beach towns in the area.

As you can see, the variety of transportation options is quite large. Having only been familiar with New York and Pittsburgh public transportation systems, I was not quite sure what to expect from a city on the other side of the world. But I think you will find that Sydney has some of the cleanest, smoothest, and easiest to understand public transport anywhere.

F1 ferry to Manly Beach