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new normal? Sydney and Melbourne public transport use still at 80% of pre-Covid levels

HealthCOVID-19new normal? Sydney and Melbourne public transport use still at 80% of pre-Covid levels
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Average weekday public transport trips in Sydney and Melbourne That’s still about 20% below pre-Covid levels, and experts say this level of use could become the “new normal”. But the data shows that despite the low overall numbers, there are distinct patterns across modes of transport, regions and times of day.

“The peaks are falling, and the peaks are rising,” says university professor David Henscher. Sydney,

“Sydney” [CBD] At 80% recovery is quite high in terms of the number of people working in offices at any one time. And we don’t think it’s going to top that anytime soon. Which raises the very important question of what to do with all that extra capacity. ,

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nsw opal card tours

This chart shows total trips across the NSW Opal Card network are significantly lower than before the pandemic.

data from victoria transportation Shows similar figures. A Department for Transport spokeswoman said more people used public transport last week than at any time since March 2020, but weekday public transport patronage in Victoria is still around 80-85% of pre-Covid levels .

Monday and Friday are the most common work-from-home days in both states, while Tuesday and Thursday are the busiest days on public transportation.

But the data suggests that this trend predates the pandemic. Mondays accounted for about 19.6% of weekday journeys on the Opel network in February 2019, compared to 19% this year.

Monday and Friday Opal Card Trips

Victorian data shows that the recovery from pre-Covid public transport patronage has been weaker on Mondays and Fridays than on other days.

Friday Public Transport Victoria

A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said the pattern of low usage was likely to continue on Monday and Friday, but as a sign of change, there was an increase in trips in the Sydney CBD on Friday afternoon.

“About 39% of average daily journeys arriving in the Sydney CBD on Fridays occur after 3pm, compared to 31% on other weekdays,” the spokesperson said.

In March 2020, Henscher and his colleagues began including a question about working from home in their long-running program. transport opinion survey, The latest one, released in September, shows Sydneysiders working from home on average about 1.4 days a week.

sydney days worked at home

The number is down from a high of 3.49 days in March 2020, but Henscher says preliminary data from the next survey suggests it is reaching a “stable equilibrium”.

“What we found last September is pretty much what we’re finding now,” Henscher says. “two days a week [working from home]especially for people working in certain occupations, and it may be slightly higher in the CBD, that’s a pretty good estimate.” The work-from-home rate in Sydney is also slightly higher than the national average.

More people working from home helps explain the huge reduction in people traveling during peak hours. According to Opal data, very few people are traveling to the Sydney CBD between 5am and 10am, even as the rest of the day is almost as fine (on average) as it was in January and February 2020.

Sydney opal tap-offs by the hour

Guardian Australia looked at vehicle numbers on major roads around metropolitan Sydney and Melbourne and found similar results. The number of vehicles on the roads is very close to pre-Covid levels compared to public transport, but morning peak hour traffic has come down.

Henscher attributes much of this to increased flexibility at work. “There’s a lot happening that’s changing the time of day that you work, [much of it] Due to change in the attitude of employers towards working flexibility. People are finding it more convenient … to start earlier or to start later, and to finish early or to finish later.

The data also shows that public transport patronage is not uniformly low across Sydney. While the CBD is at around 80% of January 2020 levels and North Sydney even lower, Macquarie Park is above 90%.

NSW Opel tap-offs by region

Some of this variation probably reflects the ability to work from home. Henscher and his colleagues modeled the likelihood that people might work from home during the pandemic by region and found huge discrepancies. Some of Sydney’s highest levels are close to the CBD.

The Guardian Australia First matching pattern found using census data.

“There’s an equity issue,” Henscher says. ,[It] It’s so unfair, you know, if people are forced to because they have jobs where they can’t work from home – what do we do about it? This is a tricky question. To be honest, I don’t have an answer.

But Henscher noted that changes in the workplace since the pandemic have dramatically improved the number of people who use public transportation.

“People aren’t wasting time on their very stressful commutes to the same extent. And even if you’re using public transportation, you’re more likely to get a seat and less crowded. And all of these things Increasing work-life balance that is less stressful.

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