Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A few Sydney observations

James O'Brien recently mentioned when visiting Brisbane how the people there look a bit different to Sydney folk. I get that because when we arrived in Sydney I said to R that people in Sydney look a bit a bit different to people in Melbourne. I mentally made allowances for being in high tourist and gay area but I think the point is valid. Given how many people swap between the two cities, it is extra odd.

Melbourne's basic inner city transport is trams. They run on tracks and it is not hard to work out where they go. By the end of our Sydney visit I will know a lot more about Sydney buses than I did, but not nearly enough.  The routes are complex.  The phone apps to help you aren't too bad but difficult to use at times because of the complexity of the system. I know where every tram and bus goes that passes through Melbourne.  I could never know that about Sydney and I doubt anyone could? The bus drivers are ever so polite, patient and helpful, unlike Melbourne tram drivers who will answer questions, but generally it is clear you are a bother. Having said that, the buses are slow. Dwell time is a phrase used by public transport boffins. Dwell time for Sydney buses is extreme, that is how long a bus is stationary at a stop to load and unload passengers. I will elaborate further in the future.

Restaurant, pub and cafe meals in Sydney are considerably cheaper in Sydney than Melbourne and dare I say it, better or at least equal. I was very impressed and the service was fine too.  There was a time when coffee was awful in Sydney, vastly inferior to Melbourne coffee but during our holiday we had not one bad cup of coffee when out. The price is higher though, with the standard being $4, whereas Melbourne probably $3.80 or less.

So why do Sydney people look or seem different? After having said so many positive things about Sydney allow me a slight negative. There is no doubt in my mind that generally Melbourne people are more stylish. A further remark, Adelaide is much more like Melbourne than Sydney. Don't we always hunger for people like us? Adelaide feels a bit more like us. Yet I would suggest Sydney people are more friendly and more likely to strike up a conversation. They seem less hung up and more relaxed.

This was meant to be sent before we left Sydney but oh, writing on a tablet is slow.

A final commendation. To everyone who sweeps the streets of greater inner Sydney, I thank you. You do a great job of keeping the city looking clean.

47 comments:

  1. Andrew, you've had a lifetime to learn your tram system so I have no doubt you would have similar knowledge of Sydney's bus system with time.

    Dwell times for buses used to be worse before the introduction of prepaid tickets when passengers spent time struggling ti find the fare, wait for change and a ticket from the driver. They improved with the introduction of prepaid tickets and probably have deteriorated a bit lately with the introduction of Opal cards which have to be tapped both on boarding and departure.

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    1. Victor, it is about numbers. There are far fewer tram and bus routes through the city here. During this visit, I think some routes were firmly implanted, as were some city streets.

      I suggest Opal has led to quite longer stop dwell times, to the point of being absurd.

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  2. How interesting.
    Adelaide is the only one of those which you mention that I have spent much time in - and I like it. Quite a lot.
    Sydney is not my cup of tea. Too noisy, too fast, too dirty. And yes I know that those stereotypes are true of all of the city, but it is how I think of it.
    Melbourne I like, from the little I have seen of it.

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    1. those stereotypes are NOT true. Sorry, posted before I edited.

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    2. I love Adelaide too. There is an elegance and plannedness in the city that makes me think of what Melbourne used to be like.

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    3. EC, it is noisy and fast, but I could not say it was dirty, in fact the opposite. Melbourne is not quite as relaxed as Adelaide, but kind of similar.

      Hels, is it as simple as having wide streets? Maybe.

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  3. Andrew, I know transport your favourite topic

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    1. Oh yes Gosia. It is a serious interest of mine.

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  4. I wonder what welsh people look like in comparason

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    1. John, can't compare as you never see people here rugged up like they in Wales.

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  5. In the US we have fat states. I can't remember which one is fattest, but I'm sure it's in the south.

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    1. Yup, that would be Mississippi susie.

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    2. Susie, I think Sydney people are slimmer because they get more exercise.

      Jacqueline, drifting off, but I remember Cindy in the Brady Bunch have to spell Miss..............er that place. Ok, not so hard, all double consonants.

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    3. Mrs. Ippi. (*~*)

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  6. Having grown up in rural America, and currently living in a 'city' where a bus is as rare and irregular as hen's teeth, I would find myself terminally perplexed by the transportation available in any city...... anywhere.

    Haven't even taken a taxi for, what, three decades?!?

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    1. Jacqueline, you do get to understand how public transport works, quite quickly for your own purposes. It is much as you describe in the country here.

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  7. "I could never know that about Sydney"; maybe you could if you lived there, you'd learn the system just like you learned Melbourne's.

    I don't know if we have "dwell time" built into our timetables, the stop time varies quite a lot, depending on the people getting on, those who ask questions of the driver hold up the schedule etc. We do have "layover" time; when a bus is running ahead of schedule for whatever reason, there are certain stops along the way where a bus can pull in and wait until the clock says it is time he should be at that stop before moving on again. Some drivers are polite enough to inform the passengers of the reason for waiting, most aren't.

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    1. River, the thing is there are just so many routes with so many variables, variables that only specific users would ever really know or understand.

      Dwell times will be built into all timetables. Layover time happened once to us in Sydney and we were only going one more stop and after the driver announced it, we left and walked. I think PT users are always entitled to know if the bus is early and needs to wait any more than a couple of minutes.

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  8. We have almost no public transport where I live. You have a car and drive or walk and if its too far, too bad. We have few sidewalks that are completed either. I don't know why this is that there are sections twenty feet long of sidewalk then....suddenly nothing. Your country sounds more developed, but then you are talking the big cities. I've been to almost no big cities except for Portland, Oregon. I don't know anything about their transport, but they have trains and buses and trolleys I hear. They're very snobby about it and superior. They look down on us rurals. Well am I in a mood or what. Sounds like you had a great Sydney vacation. That's always a good thing.

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    1. Strayer, Portland sounds very much like a place I would like, from what I have heard, except for the hot weather. It is a bit of as stand out for public transport in the US. If anywhere could be snobby about a walkability score, it is probably Portland. But then Dina, blog Not Quite Australian, educated me on the lack of footpaths in the US. Some areas are like that here, but generally not and not in the inner to middle suburbs and most of country towns.

      Interesting to me to learn how small town folk view larger US cities.

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    2. There's a division in Oregon, the rural/urban divide they call it officially, and lots of resentment mainly because it is felt that Portland thinks it's the only place in Oregon and gets all the money and attention and that they look down on the rural people. I was once introduced by a Portland cat person who was very wealthy at a vet clinic, as a "rural person". She was strutting her stuff, like she was special to be seen with a "rural person". the clinic staff looked very awkward over it and I was rolling my eyes in embarrassment behind her back. Portland is very quirky and interesting. I think you would like it Andrew. I go there when I transport cats to be fixed at the FCCO clinic just off the freeway in the Rose Quarter. The restaurants and brew pubs are supposed to be fantastic all over town, as is the public transport.

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    3. If you want to see spoofs of life in Portland you can watch clips of Portlandia on hulu. It's a comedy and makes fun of Portland's strangeness.

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    4. I do understand your point Strayer. Portland always sounds so civilised to me. As I said, I am not sure I would like the weather. I don't mind cold, but I really don't like hot and humid.

      Portandia sounds very amusing.

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  9. I agree that Sydneysiders, or at least the ones I know, are more relaxed. I felt like there was far less aggression on the roads too.

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    1. I fully agree Fen, and it is so easy to strike up a conversation. There is less attitude.

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  10. Thanks for the quote!! I get a little tired with the "better" comparisons you often read online - places are just different, and there's a lot of wasted energy in those comparisons you often read online. But there are usually explanations/history behind the differences, which I think is the more interesting story. I've lived in Sydney 20 years and I'm curious to know about the origin of the culture of thanking for the bus driver, for example. I haven't encountered it elsewhere very much. In Brisbane, this week, for example, I was the only person on the buses I travelled on who said thankyou to the driver at the end of the ride. In most places, people just get off the bus, whereas in Sydney, there's a real culture of saying "thanks" for the ride. I wonder when/how that started?

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    1. James, I certainly noticed the thanking the bus driver. It does at times happen here to bus/tram drivers, but generally not. I get if you are a traveller from the 'burbs but even inner city travellers who went a couple of stops thanked the bus driver. 'Tis a curious thing. I will give some more thought to.

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    2. We thank our bus drivers here in Adelaide, even the ones who don't greet us as we board.

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    3. Interesting River. I do at times here, but rather depends on the bus driver and my mood.

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  11. Portland does indeed have a wonderful tram system Andrew, you'd approve. I bet that you'd be a master of the Sydney bus system in no time if you lived there. After the US, I do like living in a country with a good public transport system, especially trains. I do like my trains.

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    1. Craig, except from a previous blogmate who lived there and found the trams unreliable and often cancelled. A good train system between major areas is a must for any civilised society. I see Virgin is the new operator of what was once the Great East Coast line, and seems to service Glasgow too.

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    2. Yes, Virgin just took over the East Coast line. I think that it's a very good thing for the line. I'm a big fan of what Virgin have done for the West Coast main line. They invested heavily in new rolling stock and while the trains aren't Pullman class by any stretch, their first class carriages are very nice with snacks and wine served at your seat. The service is practically hourly to London from Glasgow.

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    3. Noted Craig. It was government run when we last travelled on the line and vastly superior to the privately run Pennine Express routes.

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  12. Oh yeah, and the "stylish" thing? I think it's climate related. When you live in a sub-tropical climate, you're less inclined to "dress up" in the same way. I know one workplace in Darwin where they were told they weren't allowed to wear thongs to work anymore due to OH*S reasons, and it nearly resulted in industrial action. 33 degrees everyday and shorts and thongs make sense!!

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    1. James, it is partly climate related but there is more to it than that. Of course we saw many gay guys in Oxford Street and many bearded hipster types around the traps and they are just not cutting it. I say this from a view perspective, not from my own lack of any sort of style. There was a time when I used to compete, but I have passed that now.

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  13. Perhaps I can compare city people to country people...as in Melbourne to Sydney or am I being a bit harsh!

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    1. No WA., it is different to that. Btw, Hobart felt more Melbourne like, but I liked Launceston more. The weather is better, for a start.

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    2. Ok. Usually warmer in Launceston...

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  14. Sydney peeps are better looking - it's all the plastic surgery. :P

    Melbourne peeps are more stylish in their dressing ( I should know my partner is a hairdresser from Carlton - say no more). Whereas Sydneysiders are more casual in their dress - where else can you go to the opera in jeans and a teeshirt.
    As for the thanking bus drivers when getting off the bus - it was ingrained to us in our school days and by our parents.

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    1. Allan, and don't forget their fitness levels and trim figures from walking up and down hills.

      Hairdresser from Carlton? Now I remember who you are.

      I am sure Melbourne people are generally polite, but no, we don't generally thank tram and bus drivers as we leave the vehicle.

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  15. I just knew we'd get a transport review straight up :) Sounds like you enjoyed Sydney Andrew.. My fav thing over there apart from my son et famille is the Harbour Bridge, amazing structure, I can take or leave the Opera House but that bridge is faaabulous! I don't mind a short visit but can't wait to get back to Perth again. Looking forward to reading more .

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    1. Grace, I am always happy to be home back in Melbourne, but Sydney really is a terrific place to visit.

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  16. Yep Grace. It is my thing and when we eventually visit Perth, you can be sure of a comprehensive review of Perth public transport. Like you, I really like The Bridge.

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  17. I always walked around Sydney because it was quicker than catching buses, we once had trams but before my time they would have been faster.
    Merle...............

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    1. Merle, I once heard it can take 50 minutes to travel along George Street from the Quay to Central. Walking would have to be quicker. In the not too distant future, once again there will be trams in George Street.

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  18. Maybe that explains why I prefer Sydney to Melbourne. I like friendly unstylish people. And food that's not so expensive.

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    1. Dina, I was really surprised in the cost differences for food. Sydney people do eat out more, I believe.

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