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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1996  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/06/1996   
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Contents >> Transport >> Transport - Special Features: Public transport use

Special Features: Public transport use

In 1992, 16% of all people living in Australian capital cities used public transport on an average weekday and 4% used it on an average weekend day.

Increasing public transport usage is considered by some urban planners as a method of reducing those economic, environmental, and social problems in our cities caused by over-dependence on the private motor vehicle.1 However,while urban travel has almost doubled in the period 1971-91, public transport's share of total journeys declined from around 13% to about 8%.2 This trend towards decreasing public transport use if reflected in the high level of car use in Australia (see Car use).

Although private cars dominate urban travel, public transport still plays a key role. It provides essential mobility to people who cannot afford or cannot drive a motor car. Public transport is also better suited to journeys to or from large city centres, especially in the peak hours. It moves children to schools and workers to and from their places of work. Without public transport, Australia's larger cities would have difficulty functioning and their environments would suffer.3

In 1992, 10% of people aged 15 and over in Australia used public transport on an average day, 12% on an average weekday and 3% on an average weekend day. Weekend public transport usage was lower because fewer people travel to work and educational institutions at the weekend.

Public transport was much more likely to be used in a capital city than in the rest of the state. In 1992, 13% of people living in capital cities used public transport on an average day compared to 3% of people living outside the capital cities. The greater public transport usage among capital city residents reflects the more extensive public transport services provided in capital cities compared to other areas. There is also greater incentive to use public transport in metropolitan areas because of parking restrictions and traffic congestion.

PROPORTION OF POPULATION USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT ON AN AVERAGE DAY, 1992

Capital city
Rest of State
Total State
State
%
%
%

New South Wales
18.2
3.6
13.0
Victoria
12.4
3.5
9.9
Queensland
12.6
3.4
7.7
South Australia
11.0
3.4*
9.2
Western Australia
5.8
* *
4.8
Tasmania
7.0*
5.2*
5.9*
Northern Territory
* *
* *
* *
Australian Capital Territory
6.1*
-
6.1*
Australia
13.0
3.5
9.6

Source: Time Use Survey (unpublished data).


Public transport

The data in this review are from the 1992 Time Use Survey. In this survey, public transport refers to passenger conveyance systems operated by government or municipal authorities, or private operators, either inside or outside capital cities. It includes suburban and country passenger trains, urban and rural buses, and metropolitan trams, ferries and buses. It excludes taxi services.

In this review, all data refer to people age 15 and over. The proportion of people using public transport and the time they spend are averaged in three ways. They are averaged over a seven-day week to give values for an average day; over five weekdays to give values for an average weekday; and over Saturday and Sunday to give values for an average weekend day. Time spent includes waiting for, and travelling on, public transport. It excludes time spent by public transport workers, e.g. bus conductors, train drivers, in the course of their work.

Locations given in this review refer to the usual residence of public transport passengers and not necessarily to the place in which the travel occurred.


Capital cities
In capital cities, 16% of people used public transport on an average weekday and 4% used it on an average weekend day. While fewer people travel to work and educational institutions on the weekend, one incentive to use cars rather than public transport on the weekend comes from the availability of more car parking in the central business district.

In 1992, Sydney had the highest usage of public transport of any capital city, followed by Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide. 18% of Sydney residents used public transport on an average day compared to 13% of Brisbane residents. Moreover, 23% of Sydney residents used public transport on an average weekday and 7% used it on an average weekend day.

Sydney's high rate of public transport usage is related to its levels of car ownership. One in six Sydney households and up to half of households in some inner Sydney municipalities, are without a car.1

Characteristics of passengers
In capital cities, 13% of both men and women used public transport on an average day. 16% of men used public transport on an average weekday and 4% used it on an average weekend day. Similarly 17% of women used public transport on an average weekday and 5% used it on an average weekend day.

Public transport usage in capital cities also varied by age. Among men it decreased with age. 23% of men aged 15-24 used public transport on an average day compared to 6% of men aged 65 and over. Among women their was a different pattern. Although their usage was similar to that of men between the ages of 15 and 54, after 55 the proportion of women using public transport increased. 12% of women aged 55 and over used public transport on an average day.

PROPORTION OF CAPITAL CITY RESIDENTS USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT ON AN AVERAGE DAY, 1992


Source: Time Use Survey (unpublished data)


Time spent on public transport
In 1992 public transport users in capital cities spent an average of 1 hour and 4 minutes per average day using public transport. They spent around the same time on public transport on weekdays as on weekends.

Although men were less likely to use public transport than women, those men who used it spent slightly more time travelling on, or waiting for, public transport. Men spent an average of 1 hour and 7 minutes per average weekday compared to an average of 1 hour and 1 minute for women. Both spent about 1 hour per average weekend day on public transport.

TIME SPENT PER DAY ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT BY CAPITAL CITY RESIDENTS WHO USED PUBLIC TRANSPORT, 1992


Source: Time Use Survey (unpublished data)


Time of the day
In 1992, on both weekdays and weekends, public transport usage in capital cities reached its highest levels between 7am and 9am, and between 4pm and 6pm. Between both 7am and 8am, and 8am and 9am, 6% of people used public transport on an average weekday.

Around 3.5% of people used it on an average weekend day during these hours. Between both 4pm and 5pm, and 5pm and 6pm, 5% of people used public transport on an average weekday. Around 3.5% of people used it on an average weekend day between these hours. These peaks correspond to people travelling to an from their places of work or study. The lower rate during the weekend reflects reduced travel to work and education. Between 11am and noon, noon and 1pm, and 1pm and 2pm, around 2% of people living in capital cities used public transport, on both average weekdays and average weekend days.

TIME SPENT PER DAY ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT BY CAPITAL CITY RESIDENTS WHO USED PUBLIC TRANSPORT, 1992


Source: Time Use Survey (unpublished data)


Purpose of public transport use
In 1992, the most common reasons for using public transport were work, followed by shopping, education and social activities. 42% of public transport users in capital cities used public transport to travel to and from work on an average day and spent an average of 63 minutes on this travel. Men more than women used public transport for work and they spent more time using it. This is because more men than women are in the labour force.

Women were more likely than men to use public transport for shopping. Of those people who used public transport for shopping, women spent more time than men waiting for, and travelling on, public transport.

Men were more likely than women to use public transport for education, while women were more likely than men to use it for social activities.

CAPITAL CITY RESIDENTS USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT ON AN AVERAGE DAY, 1992

Men
Women
Persons



Proportion
Time spent
Proportion
Time spent
Proportion
Time spent
Purpose for using public transport
%
minutes
%
minutes
%
minutes

Work(a)
49.2
69
35.3
55
42.1
63
Shopping
19.0
42
30.6
45
25.0
44
Education
22.4
55
16.6
52
19.5
54
Social activities
15.5
45
22.1
55
18.9
51
Total(b)
100.0
66
100.0
61
100.0
64

(a) Includes travel to an from work and travel looking for work.
(b) Includes other activities. Components do not add to total as people may have more than one reason for using public transport.

Source: Time Use Survey (unpublished data).


Endnotes

1 Australian Urban and Regional Development Review (1995) Timetabling for tomorrow: an agenda for public transport in Australia.

2 Industry Commission (1994) Urban Transport: Volume 1, Report no. 37.

3 Industry Commission (1994) Urban Transport: overview, findings, and recommendations, Report no. 37.

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