Sydney buses are affordable and convenient. The main bus routes within the metropolitan area are operated by the STA (State Transit Authority of New South Wales), which also operates a number of the ferries that the majority of tourists utilize. The STA has a fleet of more than 2,000 vehicles on all the main Sydney bus routes from Newcastle on the north shore and the western suburbs to the Central Business District (CBD). It's also possible to use them to get to famous Bondi Beach and other beaches, the suburb of Manly, or the airport, among other destinations.
In addition to the Sydney buses operated by the government STA, there are a couple dozen private bus firms that operate in regions farther away from the city, including the beautiful Blue Mountains, located about 35 miles west of the CBD, and the suburb of Woolongong, about 50 miles south of the CBD. If you are booked on vacations that are part of a package tour, the operator will most likely have chartered one of these buses for a Sydney day trip or overnight excursion to the Blue Mountains.
Virtually all of these have special Sydney bus routes for school children that make stops at certain schools throughout the metropolitan area. Many students are allowed free Sydney CBD buses if they meet certain criteria, including living a specific distance from their school. These students have a pass allowing them to ride any of the metropolitan buses. While few of these travel directly in the central part of the city, they all have terminuses that give you easy access for transferring to another bus, ferry, or train route.
For visitors and tourists, there are free Sydney CBD buses running shuttle service during off-peak times from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, and until 9:00 p.m. on Thursday evenings. On weekends, the hours are extended until 6:00 p.m. The routes generally operate every ten minutes. These Sydney bus routes are excellent for shopping excursions and to get to many attractions. Look for buses with the easily recognizable green logo and the number 555. The route for these buses operates along George and Elizabeth Streets between Circular Quay and the Central Railway Station. There are also two zero-fare buses operating late at night on weekends; the 998 that connects the Rocks and the Queen Victoria Building, and the 999 that connects Kings Cross and Central Station.
Additionally, all the free Sydney CBD buses connect with other transportation options, including trains, ferries, and the monorail. This is important for the city located on a large natural harbor and bisected by the Paramatta River, since ferries provide a significant transportation link. It's almost impossible to go any significant distance in the city without having to cross a body of water at some point. Thus, you can utilize the free CBD buses for shopping, and end your day viewing the magnificent skyline on a ferry across beautiful Sydney Harbour.
There are two Sydney buses operating tourist loops. The 111 Sydney Explorer, and the 222 Bondi Explorer. The former travels throughout the CBD and across the Harbour Bridge to North Sydney, passing through Circular Quay, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Woolloomooloo, Kings Cross, Darling Harbour, and Chinatown. The latter makes stops at about twenty of the city's most picturesque locations and beaches. Both of these have 24-hour hop-on, hop-off tickets, making them excellent sightseeing vehicles.
Image: Tourism NSW