1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2008   
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Contents >> Environment >> Transport use by households


Motor vehicles offer convenience and flexibility for people who have access to them. However, they also have negative impacts on the environment, including air and noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The level of environmental impact from motor vehicles depends on a number of factors such as the number of motor vehicles in use, the frequency of their use, the type and age of vehicle used and whether the vehicle is air conditioned. Air conditioning has become a standard feature in motor vehicles across Australia. In April 1996, 72% of motor vehicles had air conditioning. In March 2006, however, the proportion had increased significantly to 92%.

In March 2006, nine in ten households kept at least one registered motor vehicle at their garage or dwelling, almost the same level as in 1996. The proportion of households with two or more vehicles increased from 46% in 1996 to 51% in 2006 (graph 2.8). Increases in holding of two or more vehicles were reported in all states and territories except the Northern Territory where the proportion dropped slightly from 53% to 52%. Households with two or more registered motor vehicles were most common in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (both 56%) and least common in New South Wales (46%).

2.8 Registered motor vehicles kept at dwelling
Graph: 2.8 Registered motor vehicles kept at dwelling
Cost, fuel economy and size are the three main factors considered when buying a motor vehicle. Australian households now put more emphasis on fuel economy (39%) and type of vehicle (31%) when purchasing a motor vehicle, up from 36% and 26% in 2000, respectively (graph 2.9). Householders hardly considered environmental impact when purchasing a motor vehicle (3%).

2.9 Factors considered when buying a motor vehicle
Graph: 2.9 Factors considered when buying a motor vehicle

People's reliance on motor vehicle transport for commuting and that of industry for the distribution of goods, comes at an environmental cost. The transport sector is one of the largest generators of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia and is growing. In 2005, transport accounted for about 14% of Australia's net emissions (80.4 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent), 30% higher than the 1990 level, with an annual growth of almost 2%. Road transport was the main source of transport emissions in 2005 (87.9% or 70.7 Mt), of which passenger cars contributed nearly two-thirds (43.7 Mt).

In March 2006, 80% of people aged 18 years and over used a private vehicle to travel to work or study, 14% took public transport and 6% either walked or cycled, a similar pattern since 1996 (graph 2.10). Western Australia had the highest percentage of people who used a private motor vehicle to get to their place of work or study (87%), while New South Wales had the least (75%). Most people who used a private motor vehicle to travel to their place of work or study did so as a driver (95%), the remaining 5% travelled as a passenger. The age group of people most likely to use a private motor vehicle were the 55-64 years old (87%) and the least likely were the 18-24 years old (68%).
2.10 Main form of transport to work or study
Graph: 2.10 Main form of transport to work or study

More than 14% of all people reported using public transport to get to their place of work or study in March 2006, up from 12% in 1996 (graph 2.11). Support for public transport was highest in New South Wales (19%) and Victoria (14%) and least in Tasmania (6%). In the Australian Capital Territory, the level of support declined with the proportion falling from 12% in 1996 to 8% in 2006. The majority of people who usually took public transport to their place of work or study (59%) considered public transport to be more convenient, comfortable and less stressful than any other forms of transport. In Victoria, 64% of people supported these reasons. Other significant reasons given were price or cost (28%) and parking concerns (22%).

2.11 Public transport use
Graph: 2.11 Public transport use

The proportion of people who usually walk or cycle to their place of work or study has remained unchanged since 2000 (about 6%). However, more people were walking or cycling to work or study in the Australian Capital Territory (up from 5% in 2000 to 10% in 2006) and the Northern Territory (up from 7% in 2000 to 12% in 2006). Proximity of home to place of work or study (59%) and exercise and health (49%) were the two most important reasons why people usually walked or cycled. Only 5% of people considered the environment in doing so, the same level as in 2003. Distance involved is the one significant reason why people did not usually walk or cycle to their place of work or study (70% in 2006) and this was reported by people in each age group.

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