The most beautiful commute: a ferry tale

Streaks of light from arriving ferries illuminate wharves at Sydney's Circular Quay terminal in this seven-minute-long time exposure at dusk, July 16, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Streaks of light from arriving ferries illuminate wharves at Sydney’s Circular Quay terminal in this seven-minute-long time exposure at dusk, July 16, 2015. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed 

By Jason Reed
December, 2015

On the ferries that crisscross Sydney’s harbour, passengers sit inside hunched over their smartphones, often ignoring the gorgeous scenery afforded by what some describe as the world’s most beautiful commute.

The arrival in 1788 of British Captain Arthur Phillip’s 11 convict ships in Sydney Cove and subsequent discovery of a freshwater stream led to what is now Circular Quay ferry port and, in many ways, the birthplace of modern Australia.

Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s. Commuters sail to work on ferries named after those in the first fleet: The Friendship, Charlotte and Golden Grove among others.

Today’s commuters, with their lattes and smartphones, from fast-food employees to finance industry executives, contribute to more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year.

Marketing executive Kate Newton looks to the night sky as she braves the winter chill on a Manly-bound ferry upon her return home from Sydney's Circular Quay, July 2, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Marketing executive Kate Newton looks to the night sky as she braves the winter chill on a Manly-bound ferry upon her return home from Sydney’s Circular Quay, July 2, 2015. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

A commuter uses her mobile phone as a Circular Quay to Cockatoo Island ferry passes under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, November 24, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

A commuter uses her mobile phone as a Circular Quay to Cockatoo Island ferry passes under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, November 24, 2015. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

The Sydney ferry Golden Grove (R) moves between the Sydney Opera House and new P&O Cruises ship Pacific Aria in Sydney, Australia, November 25, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken November 25, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

The Sydney ferry Golden Grove (R) moves between the Sydney Opera House and new P&O Cruises ship Pacific Aria in Sydney, Australia, November 25, 2015. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken November 25, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Commuters ride on the rooftop deck of a Sydney ferry at sunset en route to Rose Bay in Sydney's eastern suburbs, July 14, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Commuters ride on the rooftop deck of a Sydney ferry at sunset en route to Rose Bay in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, July 14, 2015. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Commuters wait for their ferry to leave Circular Quay wharf en route to Manly as First Fleet class Ferry 'Charlotte' arrives, July 2, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Commuters wait for their ferry to leave Circular Quay wharf en route to Manly as First Fleet class Ferry ‘Charlotte’ arrives, July 2, 2015. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Commuters return to Manly Wharf from the city following their commute from Sydney's Circular Quay, July 2, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Commuters return to Manly Wharf from the city following their commute from Sydney’s Circular Quay, July 2, 2015. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

The ferry 'Narrabeen', named after a northern suburbs beach, passes by north head and the Pacific Ocean beyond, the entry to Sydney's harbour on its way to Manly from Circular Quay, November 3, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

The ferry ‘Narrabeen’, named after a northern suburbs beach, passes by north head and the Pacific Ocean beyond, the entry to Sydney’s harbour on its way to Manly from Circular Quay, November 3, 2015. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Commuters are bathed in mid-winter afternoon sunlight as Sydney's skyline is reflected in a window on their way home aboard the Manly ferry, July 2, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Commuters are bathed in mid-winter afternoon sunlight as Sydney’s skyline is reflected in a window on their way home aboard the Manly ferry, July 2, 2015. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

American-born Nina Leatherday eats her hot oats breakfast before sunrise as she braves 9 degree celsius (48 fahrenheit) mid-winter temperatures on the outside deck of a Sydney ferry from Manly to Circular Quay, June 30, 2015. Leatherday, a native of Michigan is an employee of Australia's Arnott's biscuit makers and prefers her daily ferry commute on the outside deck regardless of the weather. The ferry is but one leg of her daily journey to work, completed with a train ride into the suburbs of western Sydney. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken June 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

American-born Nina Leatherday eats her hot oats breakfast before sunrise as she braves 9 degree celsius (48 fahrenheit) mid-winter temperatures on the outside deck of a Sydney ferry from Manly to Circular Quay, June 30, 2015. Leatherday, a native of Michigan is an employee of Australia’s Arnott’s biscuit makers and prefers her daily ferry commute on the outside deck regardless of the weather. The ferry is but one leg of her daily journey to work, completed with a train ride into the suburbs of western Sydney. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken June 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Corporate affairs executive Jake Krausmann yawns as as he performs his morning exercise routine on the bow of a Circular Quay-bound ferry from the northern beaches suburb Manly, June 30, 2015. The Manly ferry has been country-born Krausmann's preferred commute for 10 years, saying that he has always travelled on the outside decks in any weather and never gets sick of the trip. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken June 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Corporate affairs executive Jake Krausmann yawns as as he performs his morning exercise routine on the bow of a Circular Quay-bound ferry from the northern beaches suburb Manly, June 30, 2015. The Manly ferry has been country-born Krausmann’s preferred commute for 10 years, saying that he has always travelled on the outside decks in any weather and never gets sick of the trip. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken June 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Commuters run to catch a ferry to the Sydney suburb of Manly from Circular Quay, November 3, 2015. Sydney's ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Commuters run to catch a ferry to the Sydney suburb of Manly from Circular Quay, November 3, 2015. Sydney’s ferry system has been its lifeblood since the mid 1800s, transporting more than 15 million individual passenger journeys each year, according to the Bureau of Transport Statistics. From fast-food employees to finance industry executives, more than 40,000 trips are taken every day. Picture taken November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

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