$80 would have been the perfect amount to put on my Opal Card. $34 was the return trip off peak cost to and from the airport. Most of the charge is the airport gate charge, going to a private company. This compares very favourably to Melbourne's Airport bus of $36 return but I do object to paying private companies such large amounts of money for what should be basic public transport to and from major airports.
I am not sure if I reached my weekly cap but after the first ferry ride I was no longer being charged that day, which was quite a saving. Eight journeys a week takes you to your cap, but note journeys, not trips. They are different things. I just trust the system worked and as far as I can see, it was ok. Once you know what flag to look for, it is easy to find shops where you can top up your Opal.
The Opal card readers are much faster than in Melbourne, but like in early stages of our Myki system, people will wave their cards around the readers instead of holding them still. I can't really read the details on Myki readers without glasses on, but I could with Opal readers, except it takes my eyes a little longer to read the detail and unlike our system where the details remain on the screen until you remove your card, you have to be quick and ready to read.
On trains and the ferries the readers worked flawlessly. Not so in buses, with readers often not working. I suppose it is to prevent people touching off their ticket early to receive a cheaper trip, but the scanners don't come on until the bus has nearly stopped at a stop, controlled by GPS I suppose.
This brings me to the extreme slowness unloading when the bus stops. With trams, people are normally at the door when the vehicle stops and there is no need to touch off your Myki. Trams are smoother than buses and it is not hard to be at the door once the tram stops and if you aren't, the driver may well close the doors and take off and you will be left on the tram. I don't blame people for not being at the door of lurching buses but what a mess happens as people make their way to the doors, touch off their Opal and because no-one is at the door to get off, people start getting on, then the woman with a pram gets to the door, touches off and is tangled with people getting on, dodging around and the whole thing is a ridiculous mess. As I have already said I think, Sydney bus drivers seem endlessly patient with unthoughtful passenger behaviour.
I understand there are still trains in Sydney without air conditioning but we never struck one. I feel the aircon could be set a degree or two cooler. Most of the buses we travelled on were modern and quite smooth with the interesting feature of interior lights brightening when the bus doors were open. I may have assumed that all Sydney buses had aircon but at the driver changeover at Waverly Depot, the relieving driver mentioned to the other driver he was pleased the bus had aircon. The aircon temperature on buses seemed correctly set and unlike in Melbourne where the driver on some buses have control of the aircon, every bus had the aircon on, I assume on an automatic setting. The two longer bus ride trips we took had older buses working the route. Coincidence? Get the most out of them before they must be retired and go easy on the new ones?
What else to say? Stops can be a long way apart, but not for the good burghers of Military Road, Mosman where stops are quite close together. Most buses have a route number at the rear, which is so useful if you need to know what bus you have just missed. Seriously, rear showing route numbers are useful. At busy bus stops where there are multiple bus stands, signage as to which bus stops where could be better. It is not really a criticism but as we discovered on our first visit to Sydney in the early 80s, you do have to be proactive about catching a bus. Standing at a stop is not enough and the bus will just pass you by if you don't hail them. I expect this mostly applies to streets where there are multiple routes.
A strong criticism of Sydney Buses which equally applies to Melbourne's public transport, is that during a special event, such as St Patrick's Day, and street services are re-routed, times are not correctly adjusted resulting in buses running very late, as we discovered when we were at La Perouse. The L94 buses were running very late and I am sure because they were re-routed and probably some resulting traffic congestion. The ever so patient Sydney bus drivers seemed to lose their patience, with some people just being left behind. Such behaviour by drivers can be firmly slated back to Sydney Buses management who did not adequately plan for changed circumstances. St Patrick's Day in Hyde Park is hardly a new event. Sydney Buses will have experienced what happens on St Patrick's Day many times and Sydney Buses staff will have been paid very good money to plan for the event and in my opinion, they failed.
But don't come to Melbourne expecting any better.