Sunday, February 08, 2009

On the buses - in Sydney

Why is there is picture of the sign at the entrance to Bondi Beach on a post about buses? Simple - because, the best way to get to Bondi Beach from the center of Sydney is by bus.

One of our mandatory outings during the stay is Sydney was to get to the famous Bondi Beach. On our first day in Sydney, we had taken the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly - and Manly Beach. Now it was time to try Bondi.

We inquired from the Sheraton-on-the-Park concierge as to how to get to Bondi. He indicated that the 381 bus - available with good frequency from the far side of Elizabeth St - would take us all the way to Bondi.

We also inquired as to the fare. To my astonishment, the concierge indicated that the bus driver would make change up to an A$20 note.

As usual, our concierge proved 100% correct. The bus came to the Elizabeth St stop along Hyde Park at the scheduled time. I passed the driver a $20 and got proof of purchase and change in return. About 40 people boarded at this and the next stop. Most were tourists headed for Bondi. The change issuance did slow the process down somewhat - but with a city full of tourists, the feature is a big plus.

The bus was clean. As with all Sydney buses that I saw, it was LNG-powered. Here in Toronto - for whatever reason - gas-powered buses proved problematic. (The TTC can make a problem out of anything.) In Sydney - obviously the transit system is happy with them.

The bus took a left to turn East. It stopped at a major bus terminal (Bondi Junction) and then headed north towards the beach. In Toronto, the TTC would insist on forcing customers to transfer three times - or worse yet, to include a streetcar ride along the way. It seems that Sydney get's it - provide a reasonable service that takes into account where people wish to travel. In Toronto, the high gods of transit insist that buses must follow the grid, and that routes (especially streetcar carrying ones) are sacrosanct.

On the way back, we boarded the 330 - and express bus. Sydney Transit had someone selling the tickets (pay before boarding) and encouraging people to get on the express.

Oh - yes. Bondi is a great beach. However, if you want a quiet day in the sun, go to Manly.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Darling Harbour - a park under an expressway

Sydney Harbour is famous for the bridge and the opera house. Nowadays, tourists can also enjoy Darling Harbour - which has been transformed from being a disused port area to being host to shops, restaurants, museums and other recreation spots.

Sydney managed all this without worryng about the elevated expressway that runs around the harbour. In fact, the redevelopment has flanged right in. The world's largest IMAX theatre sits happily amongst the expressway piers - as does a river-like fountain (pictured), chinese gardens, palm trees and more.

Instead of (as is the case here in Toronto) misusing the concept of waterfront renewal as a battle in the 'war against the auto', Sydney built something practical and inviting for its citizens and the millions of tourists who find their way to Sydney Harbour every year.

Back from Australia and New Zealand

I've just returned from a wonderful break in Australia and New Zealand. I've returned to winter, Czar-wannabe Ignatieff torpedoing the grand coalition, and not much in the way of change in Toronto. (Does Toronto have an allergy to change?)

There's still no word on the replacement streetcars. Councillors will still be getting there raises. David Miller is still flying all over the world instead of running the city properly.

I'm going to post (yeah promises) some material on Sydney - yes in Australia, not Nova Scotia - you just might be interested in knowing that one of the world's most tourist-friendly harbours has an elevated expressway directly in it's midst. (I guess David Miller hasn't go to visit Sydney yet.)

Anyway - I'm going share a wonderful image of the New Zealand coast - for no other purpose than to entertain you.