You're coming to Sydney for a holiday or on business? Yeah, I know, you don't like public transport or can't read a timetable. You won't be going far while in Sydney, so you'll just use taxi's or Uber. Public transport is dangerous. We'll hire a car...
I've heard all the excuses. The first time I visited New York back in the 1980's. Everyone warned me - DON'T GO ON THE SUBWAY YOU'LL GET MUGGED! but I stepped off the plane at the JFK airport and onto a subway train to the city. I arrived in Manhattan safe and sound. The people on the train were all well dressed and on their way to work, none of them wanted to mug me. In fact when they heard my accent, they went out of their way to make friends.
Sydney is the same, public transport is full of people going about their daily routines. More people get injured falling down the escalators or up the stairs, rather than victims of crime.
Taxis and Uber are great, but remember inner Sydney's roads was designed for horse and cart. Every road or motorway ends in a bottle neck. The waterways around Sydney are beautiful but how many bridges or tunnels and motorways can be built to cater to Sydney's traffic nightmare? So if you're in a taxi and get caught in a traffic jam, don't say I didn't warn you. Taxis don't accept Opal cards, but they do accept Visa, MC, American Express and Diners Club cards.
The biggest revolution in the Sydney's public transport system is the introduction of the Opal card. No scratching around for small change to buy a ticket. You just head to the bus, train or ferry, tap on and tap off when you alight. So simple and convenient, change your travel plans mid trip - no problem, just keep going. The trusty computers at Opal will work out to the last cent the exact fare for your day of travel.
But do yourself a big favour and get an Opal card before you arrive in Sydney. Cards can be bought at various locations, including Sydney rail stations and news agencies. But make it easy for yourself, go to the Opal website at www.opal.com.au and order a card online. Transport NSW will then post it to you. They'll even send you one if you live in some exotic place like New York, London or Paris.
When ordering, your card, do yourself another favour and link your debit or credit card to your Opal card so that you'll be automatically debited when your balance gets too low (min. debt amount $10.00). The reason for this is that if you don't have auto update you may end up having to manually recharge your card at a recharge machine at a rail station. Murphy's Law states that this will always happen in the middle of peak hour and there will be a line of people waiting in front of the machine while someone at the machine stands there trying to stuff worn out $5 bills into the slot and the machine constantly rejects them.
Worried that you may never return to Sydney ever again? Transport NSW have that worked out too. If your Opal card doesn't get used in a certain amount of time you'll be automatically refunded the full balance back to your credit of debt card. If you deceide that Sydney wasn't that bad after all and deceide to go back, just tap on and the system will recognise you're back in town and will automatically top up your card. You may have to login or call before you leave if your credit card details have changed and need updating.
Buy your card online or by calling 13 67 25 (13 OPAL). If you lose it - no problems, just call one of those numbers and have your card cancelled. They'll send you a new one. Buy it from a newsagency and lose it without registering it to your name either online or phone you can say goodbye to the card and the balance.
There are 4 types of Opal cards, Adult, Child/Youth, Senior/Pensioner/ and Concession. Further details and click to order at https://www.opal.com.au/en/about-opal
Last but not least, for timetables and other info go to: https://transportnsw.info/
Light rail: https://transportnsw.info/travel-info/ways-to-get-around/light-rail
Regional rail/bus services: https://transportnsw.info/regional
Taxis and hire vehicles: https://transportnsw.info/travel-info/ways-to-get-around/taxi-hire-vehicle
Enjoy your stay in Sydney.