Sydney Light rail can be a great way to get into the city from the airport or the suburbs. I was staying with my relatives in Killara so I took this into Sydney. There is a large Asian population here in Killara and also in Chatswood. Chatswood has a large Asian population for quite some time while more Asians are moving into Killara.
The fare system is based on zones and there are a few. The Sydney metro rail system is quite extensive so it would be difficult for me to list the different zones. From Killara to downtown Sydney, it was 4.60AUD one way or 9.20AUD roundtrip. From Downtown Sydney to Bondi Junction (to go to Bondi Beach), it is 3.80AUD one way or 7.60AUD roundtrip.
Each station has a credit card machine that prints out the tickets. I cannot remember if they take cash but I believe they do. During peak times, some if not all stations will have a person who can sell you tickets if you have a signature based credit card. I usually buy roundtrip tickets on a signature based credit card in the morning.
Like other commuter rails, you buy a ticket and get on the train. For the most part, there are no conductors coming around checking tickets regularly. However, there are metro agents that randomly patrol the cars to make sure everyone bought a ticket and also every station in downtown Sydney has gates that are activated by the ticket. As you can see in the picture above, there are no such gates at smaller stations outside Sydney. The only time I have seen the agents is when I took the train through Downtown Sydney and onto Bondi Junction. As I was only doing this for a few days, I bought a ticket each day as it’s not worth the fine. Just to note, all Sydney grade school students get to ride the metro for free. I am unsure about college students. I do not think flashing a college ID from somewhere outside Australia would work.
Below is an example of a newer light rail trainset. I was told by my cousin that the transportation minister lives on this rail line so there are newer trainsets on this line than others.
Below is an example of an older one. The design is almost the same on the inside, just that the seats are updated and the air conditioning should have a higher likelihood of working in the newer cars.
As you can see from the map below, the rail system is quite extensive. There is no separate system for within the city limits like many other cities like New York, Boston, DC, Philadelphia, etc. The major rail line runs through the city and among one the ways to get around the city. The other option is the bus system, which I have not used.
Below is the main train station in Sydney.
The city itself is quite small and completely walkable. I walked most parts of the city, despite just running a marathon the day before. The only issue was the high winds, which made for a chilly day.
It is quite expensive to use the rail system to get around within Sydney. Each ride may be 3.80AUD so quite steep. I would suggest taking it once a day and stay within a certain area of the city for the entire day. Sydney is fairly walkable. Many of the attractions are within 1/2 mile of each other so not difficult to walk around. There are some hills but distance wise very close. Most of the city is set up like a grid so very easy to navigate.