Cheap Way to Sydney Airport

For the last fifteen years or so I’ve been travelling to and from Sydney Airport either by taxi or train. I live close enough so that a taxi generally costs no more than $20, and so that’s what I mostly do.

If, however, I’m closer to Central, like when I’m travelling to and from work, or if the queue at the airport is outrageously long, I’ll catch the train instead. But every time I do, I have to swallow my pride, as I think the one-way ticket price of $16.50 borders on extortion. I don’t think it’s reasonable for you have to pay in excess of ten dollars more by going two extra stops. And unlike other airports around the world which are sometimes thirty or forty kilometres from the city, Sydney Airport is really very, very close.

So today I set myself the task of determining if it was possible to use “normal” public transport to get to and from my place to the airport. The short answer is yes. A quick Google search reveals the 400 bus route goes directly from Bondi Junction to Sydney Airport, and if I was prepared to walk or catch a bus 3km to the University of NSW I could have jumped on board there.

However, I discovered a far more convenient option for me just down the road. There’s a bus stop near the corner of Devonshire and Elizabeth Streets, Surry Hills with direct routes to Mascot. Just before lunch, I checked the timetable and found there was at least two bus routes (309 and the M20) which could drop me within 1.3km of Sydney Airport. From there all I had to do was walk the remaining distance along General Holmes Drive, Joyce Street and Sir Reginald Ansett Drive. There was a shorter cross country route, but I generally chose to stick to the main roads as they had good footpaths all along the way. I took a minor diversion to have a look through the fence at the Regional Express aircraft. In total, it was about forty-five minutes from my place to the domestic terminal, including about 20-minutes by foot at the end. Total cost? 3-5 bus sections which, for me, was a double-dip.

I have to admit, though, today was a bit of a dream run. There was hardly anyone on the bus and there was hardly any traffic. On top of that, the weather was mild. I couldn’t imagine doing the trip if it the weather was cold, wet or hot. I think you would also find it a bit of a struggle if you were physically unfit. But for me travelling today with just hand-luggage, and having no time pressures to worry about, it was a fun, interesting and worthwhile experiment. Would I do it again? If the conditions were right, yeah probably…

13 comments

  1. Even we non Sydney locals once caught a public bus from Darlo to the airport when hotel check out time was considerably earlier than flight departure time. Midday, weekday and it was cheap and fast. So for our next visit to Sydney, what did we do? Caught a cab.

  2. Interesting that you quote a taxi fare of less than $20 from where you live at Surry Hills. I don’t live that far from you (Edgecliff) but a taxi to/from the airport to/from my place costs more than $40 and mostly close to $50.

    The 400 bus is quite a good service in that it is very frequent but its cross suburb route makes it a pretty painful journey to/from the airport. I have to allow at least an hour and a half for the Bondi Junction/Airport journey and it gets very crowded especially at school times and also with students at UNSW and shoppers at both Eastgardens and Mascot. Travel the route once and it is interesting. Subsequent journeys can be tiresome.

  3. if you cross the rd at Mascot the 400 stops outside the post office as it swings round from wentworth ave, then it’s a single dip to domestic…

  4. I love this! I think public transport should service airports like it often does in other parts of the world (Singapore was one of the best I’ve experienced). In Melbourne I catch the SkyBus, but it’s $16.50 a pop!

  5. the Sydney 400 is a great ride in my experience. Refreshing after Brisbane experiences. It’s $19 to catch the sky train from Brisbane airport into city. I refused and hitched hiked in. I dont recommend the option I took but was glad I tried it

    • It’s $19 now in Brisbane? I don’t remember it being more expensive than Sydney. Gosh! I really don’t understand why the airport links are so expensive in Australia. Sure, they’re on a par with lots of other airports around the world, though they’re generally a long way from the city. In the case of Brisbane and Sydney both are in the midst of suburbia, so distance travelled makes no sense as a means for understanding the pricing levels.

  6. Thanks for advice guys! My girlfriend is arriving in August and toying with ideas on how to get back to Bondi Junction as a $50 cab seem a little much in my opinion!

  7. Thanks for your sharing! I’m a high school student from Hong Kong and I’m really scared by the fares of the airport trains.

  8. The cheapest way to the airport is to catch a CityRail train to either Mascot or Wolli Creek than walk then remaining 1.2 kms. The maximum fare in the CItyRail network is $8.60 for an adult ticket. The only discomfort if you have luggage it might slow you down on the walk.

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