Third Space

Public transport insights from the Census

Public transport insights from the Census

2016 Journey to Work Census data (ABS Census) reveals an increase, over the last five years, in the number of people using public transport on their commute to work. This article in our 2016 Census Series explores some of the key trends in public transport usage across metropolitan Sydney and Melbourne.

Across Greater Sydney, over 519,000 people used public transport on their commute to work in 2016. This is a marked increase since 2011, with the proportion of commuters using public transport increasing from 20% to 23%. This is equivalent to an additional 106,000 people using some form of public transport to get to work.

Public transport use varies across the city. Areas located on the principal rail network have a much higher public transport mode share of between 32 to 39%. For example, in Parramatta 39% of residents use public transport on their commute to work. Additionally, areas with the greatest increase in public transport use all have access to the principal rail network.

Click on the interactive map below, to zoom in and see the rank of any location in Sydney or Melbourne.

The following map of the Sydney metropolitan area shows how public transport use[1] has changed between the 2011 and 2016 Census on a Statistical Area 2 (SA2) basis.

Key increases include:

  • Arncliffe – Bardwell Valley experienced a 13% increase in public transport mode share, the largest increase across Greater Sydney
  • Mascot – Eastlakes and Waterloo – Beaconsfield experienced an 8 to 9% increase in public transport mode share
  • Parramatta – Rosehill experienced a 6% increase in public transport mode share

A similar pattern is observed in Greater Melbourne, although the overall increase in public transport use is less pronounced, rising from 14% to 16%. This is equivalent to an additional 63,000 people using some form of public transport to get to work.

Residents in Inner Melbourne have a higher public transport mode share than the metropolitan average, between 25 to 34%. Areas located along the heavy rail network also have a higher proportion of public transport commuters, particularly along the Pakenham and Lilydale / Belgrave train lines.

Key increases include:

  • Docklands and Melbourne experienced a 10% increase in public transport mode share
  • West Footscray and Seddon experienced a 5 to 6% increase in public transport mode share
  • Growth areas to the west and north of Melbourne including Truganina, Wyndham Vale and South Morang experienced a 5 to 6% increase in PT mode share

Both Sydney and Melbourne show a correlation between the presence of train lines, in particular, and the increased use of public transport. In areas without immediate access to a train line, public transport use has also increased, suggesting commuters are switching transport modes, taking a bus or driving to a rail station, for example.

An increase in public transport use brings a raft of social and environmental benefits to the local and metropolitan communities. A detailed analysis of areas of public transport investment, inclusive of infrastructure investment, improved service times and reliability, would highlight how government has a strong role to play in encouraging public transport use. The relationship between significant road upgrades and new projects and public transport usage rates should also be further explored using this new data. This will help to better inform the real costs and benefits of transport investment.

SGS has also considered the impacts of infrastructure investment on land use patterns. More information on that can be accessed at: https://www.sgsep.com.au/area-services/solutions/transport-impact-model

This interactive map shows the public transport mode share of any location in Sydney and Melbourne (type Melbourne in the search box to change cities)

Data notes:

Public Transport Use is defined using the ABS Census Classification Method of Travel to Work (MTWP) based on a persons place of usual residence.

Public Transport Use includes all trips that involve one form of public transport. Variables that have been included are: Train, Bus, Ferry and Tram; and all combinations of these with other forms of transport, e.g. Train, car as driver, and Train, bus, car as driver.

Public Transport Share is calculated as the number of public transport users divided by the total number of employed persons aged 15 years and over.

ABS Census Geographies (ASGS) have changed between 2011 and 2016, for comparison purposes the SA2 level data from 2011 has been adjusted to 2016 SA2 boundaries.

Footnotes

  1. as a proportion of employed persons aged 15+, by resident location