Public transport return will be slow: new survey

Over 20 percent of Australians will not return to public transport until they or their close household members have been vaccinated for COVID-19, according to a new survey by the University of Sydney Business School.

This was one of the findings of the latest Transport Opinion Survey of over 1,000 Australians, conducted in March 2021 by the University of Sydney Business School’s internationally respected  Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS).

Overall, 24 percent of respondents have started using public transport again since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our survey findings strengthen the general perception that a return to public transport will be contingent on a successful vaccination program.

However, the researchers found big differences in willingness to return to public transport between states in Australia. Commuters from Western Australia were least concerned, with 12.6 percent saying they would not use public transport until after they were vaccinated, compared to South Australia which had the highest proportion of 25.3 percent.

The March 2021 survey found that among all the states, Victorian and South Australian residents feel the least safe in using public transport (5.8 and 6.0 out of 10) while Western Australian residents feel the safest (6.9 out of 10).

"Our survey findings strengthen the general perception that a return to public transport will be contingent on a successful vaccination program and massively improved messaging program, and that current delays will only add to the challenges in attracting Australia back to public transport," said Professor David Hensher , Founding Director of ITLS.

"COVID-19 has created widespread disruptions to people’s everyday lives including their travel habits. It is unlikely that we will see an uptake in public transport use for some time." 

About the Transport Opinion Survey

The Transport Opinion Survey is currently the only regular national survey to measure public opinion on transport-related issues.

The March 2021 survey was conducted between 4 March and 14 March 2021, with completed responses from 1,023 Australians aged over 18 years. The sample is representative of Australia’s population distribution and demographic characteristics.

The Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies has been conducting the survey biannually since 2010. 

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