VIVA! Account Executive, Kirsty Noffke was born in the regional town of Tweed Heads and lived there until her relocation to the big smoke in May. Here she shares some commentary on Sydney living.
There’s a surefire way to spot a non-Sydney-sider waiting for public transport – they’re smiling. That’s me. Waiting at the bus stop with a bunch of complete strangers, and smiling, ear to ear.
I look like a kid lining up for a show ride but I can’t help it. I love public transport. People keep telling me it’s a novelty that will wear off as soon as I have one bad “train day”, but I’m not too sure.
In my 23 years in Tweed Heads I can count on one hand the number of times I caught a bus (school buses excluded). Who needed public transport when you had a personal chauffeur, aka mum? So I did what most regional teenagers do on their 17th birthday I went for my driving test. Eventually I passed and that was it, I had P-plate-license freedom. I drove my car everywhere, even places within walking distance (sorry environment).
But after five minutes of driving on Sydney’s roads and one look at the price of fuel, I decided public transport was the way for me and I’m not looking back.
My first week was full of mishaps and misadventures. Fortunately I allowed an extra half-an-hour to get to work on my first day at VIVA! because, although I made it to the train station with plenty of time, I stood on the wrong platform and ended up heading towards Hornsby, rather than the city.
And coming home that night, I accidentally hit the button on the bus one stop before mine. The bus stopped and no-one stood up to get off. I thought about getting off and walking the last 1km home, but decided it was too cold. “Sorry,” I yelled towards the bus driver, “I meant the next stop”. Everyone on the bus turned towards me as I avoided eye contact and sunk lower into my seat.
In my one month here however, I like to think I’ve got the colour-coded web of transit under control but as my Sydney-friends constantly remind me, I stand out like a sore thumb.
I don’t know “the rules” yet. The no talking rule for example. Apparently you’re not supposed to say good morning and comment on the weather to the person sitting next to you. I discovered this after telling a businessman about how cold I was. All I received in way of reply was a grunt before he turned his attention elsewhere.
And there’s no need to say sorry if you accidentally bump into someone on the train. This I actually understand, because during rush hour, it’s standing room only so I’d be apologising the entire way. But good manners shouldn’t be surrendered entirely, according to a bus driver I was chatting to on the way home (also against the rules).
So I’m going to break the travel rules. I’ll be the smiling commuter who asks the person sitting next to her what they’re reading, and the person who double checks which direction the train’s going, because, after all, what fun is life if you don’t break a rule every now and then?
PS. I wrote this blog on my iPhone while on the train to work. Try doing that driving a car!
PPS. Greenhouse gas emissions per passenger, per kilometre for rail transport are up to five times less than that of car transport.