Using a public transport option (train or bus) to get to Australia’s major airports is generally the most cost-effective (and almost always the greenest) option. We rounded up the options last year in a comprehensive listing of public airport transfer options for capital cities.
Several readers pointed out an important corollary to that principle: it applies more to solo travellers. Once you’ve got three or more people hitting the airport, getting a taxi often works out to be just as cheap, and gives you a door-to-door advantage. But if you’re on your own for business or for holidays, then public transport is generally the best choice.
Airport transfers almost always attract a premium (Adelaide and Perth being the honourable exceptions to this rule). For instance, a single ticket from Sydney Airport to my home costs $16.80 – at least $10 more than a similar distance journey that doesn’t include the Airport Line stations.
As regular readers know, I do a lot of air travel, and it turns out there’s a little-known option that can make it somewhat cheaper and easier if you do more than one journey a week. The airport line stations offer a 7 day gate pass which costs $18 if you already have a Travelpass (the general Sydney ticket which allows travel on trains, buses and ferries for weekly or longer periods). This ticket isn’t well-promoted (there’s no mention of it on the CityRail site), and you can only buy it at the airport stations. But under the right circumstances, it can save you time and hassle.
This week I’ll be making two return journeys to Sydney airport, which would cost me $67.20. Buying a Green Travelpass plus a 7 day gate pass costs me $66. This is cheaper, means I don’t have to buy four separate tickets, also allows me to use on other services on the days I’m actually in Sydney, and makes it easy for me to exit Central station for a coffee when there turns out to be a 29 minute wait for my connecting service. (Sydney’s ludicrous ticketing system means that this wouldn’t otherwise be possible.)
Admittedly, the number of people who need to visit the airport that many times in a week is quite low. But if you’re going to hit the airport that frequently, it’s a definite time and hassle saver. Even if I had just one airport trip during the week but otherwise needed the Travelpass, buying the 7-day version is cheaper and less hassle than buying two separate daily gate passes.
Got your own similarly sneaky airport transport money saver for another capital city? Tell us in the comments.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman is spending quite a bit on carbon credits, in case you were wondering. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.