Bus and train use up as car numbers rise but trips fall
29 Jun 2010
Public transport use in Sydney is rising, even though confidence in the system continues to fall and vehicle ownership keeps growing, according to two surveys.
The NSW government's annual household travel survey, to be released today, finds rail travel was up 3 per cent and bus travel up 2.5 per cent in 2008-09. Car trips fell by almost 1 per cent.
It is the fourth year in a row that car use has fallen. The results could affect campaigns to extend the motorway network.
More than 5000 households and 8000 people were surveyed.
While the government has welcomed the findings, it will be unhappy with a national survey of 1000 people by the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney. It reveals NSW is the "most pessimistic state ... in terms of sentiment towards transport in Australia in the next five years".
The survey shows that travellers are cynical about government transport policies, despite the introduction of the MyZone ticketing system in April, which included some cheaper fares.
Thirty-one per cent believed transport in their local area would get worse over the next year, up from 27 per cent in March.
The government's survey also reveals that most respondents who use their cars do so mainly because of problems with public transport. Only 47 per cent of people drive to work because they "prefer the convenience or independence" of the car. Another 38 per cent drive because public transport is "indirect", 24 per cent because it is "too slow", and 61 per cent because it "doesn't go where required", is constrained by timetables, unavailable, infrequent or unreliable. (The percentages do not equal 100 per cent because many respondents gave multiple reasons.)
These responses may account for the growth in car ownership by almost 3 per cent, which now stands at 1.5 vehicles for every household. Given the rising number of apartments, where many residents do not own cars, car ownership in the outer suburbs is estimated to be at least two and possibly three vehicles per household.
"People are not giving up their cars completely," the Minister for Transport, John Robertson, said. "They are simply being more selective about when and where they use them, which is a really good outcome."
In better news for the government - and also for rail unions, which are campaigning to preserve frontline station staff - those who use public transport regularly report high levels of satisfaction with security. Ninety per cent say they feel safe on trains and 94 per cent feel safe on buses.
But the report shows a fall in satisfaction with the on-time running of buses, reflecting worsening traffic congestion.
Gavin Gatenby, a spokesman for the advocacy group Eco Transit, said the fall in car use showed Sydneysiders were aware of the problem of diminishing oil resources.