In Melbourne, one can glide through the city on rails. I absolutely love that you can toddle on to the number 96 tram and go from the inner north (Fitzroy, Brunswick street) that is full of funky bars, street art and woo woo clothes stores and be in St Kilda Beach about 25 minutes later, strolling along the picturesque if somewhat stinky waterfront.Yes, their inner city is set out in a grid pattern on a plain and I realise some people who have grown up with Sydney's crooked street plan set out by crooked officials and crooked landowners may find that a little dull. But the surrounds are offset at about 45 degrees to the city and it makes for a pleasing transition and keeps the visitor happy with a new view as the tram swings around in a graceful arc. Buenos Aires and Havana are also set out in a strict grid and they are buzzy exciting cities with lots of laneways and intersections were art and music breed.
Consider how over here in the Emerald City to get from Newtown (equivalent inner city suburb to Ftizroy that has street art and people who wear ropes in their hair) to the beach, you have to get on a train to central, change at the underground platform to take the spur that only goes halfway to the beach, and then get off and get a bus down the hill, usually standing up by this stage and jammed under the armpit of some 6ft swede with a surfboard, at least 1.5 hours later. Your other choice is a bus to the city, then walk about 3 blocks near Hyde Park and get a second bus that goes all the way to the beach but is pre-paid only. Anyway you do the whole trip, without multi-trip tickets or concessions you can't get away with less that about $5.40 one way. Melbourne's version is about $4.00 for a 2-hour transfer.
And don't even get me started on my trip back to the flat from Sydney airport. Deciding to try to use the state services* I ended up home after about 100 minutes, travel sick and confused after a journey that is only about 20 km direct, having passed through Mascot, Eastgardens, Maroubra, and Randwick on the only ordinary, non-shuttle bus service that goes via the airport.
* I could say this was a choice to avoid a cab, for my emissions footprint but that would be a bit rich after just burning all that airline fuel to get back**. Really it was to do with feeling a little skint after lots of shows, meals and the odd bit of shoe shopping.
**Offset, by the way, offset!