ABOVE: Keep a photo of your local bus time table! PHOTO WARREN HEGGARTY
Grant J Everett
You probably know how to get around your regular areas off-by-heart, but what do you do when you need to go somewhere out of the ordinary? You might have a job interview, be visiting a friend’s house for the first time, heading to a holiday location six hours up the coast, or you could just be using public transport on a day when the timetables are different (a Sunday or a public holiday, for instance).
No matter where you want to go within New South Wales, the Trip Planner website is a free, easy-to-use toolkit that can get you there as soon as possible. It’s available on any internet-capable device, and is just as useful whether you are travelling on foot, driving, catching a bus, train, ferry, coach or a light rail service, or even a combination. Trip Planner will identify what services you need to catch for the different legs of your trip, and also chart your path as a line on a map. You will be able to see what bus stops and train stations you will be passing along the way, as well as how much walking will be involved between them.
To use Trip Planner, just type “trip planner” into Google’s search bar, and it should be the first thing to pop up. Trip Planner’s exact address is
When plotting your journey, Trip Planner has three different timing options: leaving right now, leaving at a specific time, or choosing when you want to arrive at your destination. It also allows you to compare earlier and later services with the touch of a button in case one of them suits you better. This allows you to plan trips weeks or months in advance, and adjusting your journey details is as simple as a few taps. In addition to calculating your most efficient route down to the minute, you’ll also know how much your journey will cost, ensuring that you won’t get caught short with your Opal card balance.
As well as providing every map and timetable for every mode of travel in NSW, Trip Planner is also dynamic: this means it’s kept up-to-date at all times, so if your train is running late, Trip Planner will know. It will also automatically account for your trip falling on a public holiday, weekend, or other factors that will affect your journey time, like scheduled trackwork, train station upgrades, road closures, special events that block road access, accidents, anything like that. And as wheelchair access still hasn’t become universal at train stations yet, Trip Planner can warn you about this, too.
But what if you get lost, and need more guidance? This problem is as easy to solve as asking Google a question. Searching “how do I get to Sydney Olympic Park Station?”, for instance, will show you a map with the fastest path between your current location and your goal, as well as your transport options. If you want even more help, just hit the START button (it’s a little blue arrow) to be audibly guided every step of the way by a pleasant voice.
Please note that Trip Planner is for journeys within New South Wales. If you are in Queensland, use Journey Planner. In Adelaide, you want Adelaide Metro Journey Planner. In the ACT, use Transport Canberra. And in Victoria, use the PTV Journey Planner.
Travel Tip: For bus stops that you use often, consider taking a photo of the timetable with your phone’s camera. Remember to photograph the Saturday and Sunday timetable, too.