Australian Transport Summit: Poll says public transport getting better on the back of smart innovations

TTF public transport poll key findings:

  • 47 per cent of people say public transport has improved over the past five years;
  • 46 per cent rate public transport as good or very good,
  • 39 per cent are willing to pay more in transport fares for better services;
  • 69 per cent like their smart cards;
  • 58 per cent want to be able to use their mobile phone or credit card to travel.

Close to half of Australia’s commuters (47 per cent) say that public transport in their city has improved over the past five years compared to just 13 per cent who said it has worsened according to a survey commissioned by the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) ahead of the Australian Transport Summit being held in Sydney today.

The poll of 1,000 Australians, by Pureprofile, revealed that only 10 per cent believe that public transport services have declined in the past five years with a further 32 per cent saying it has stayed more or less the same. Victoria (53 per cent) was the most positive about the improvement in public transport followed by WA and Queensland (49 per cent) and NSW (48 per cent).

According to the survey, 46 per cent of respondents nationwide rated their public transport network as good or very good, 32 per cent said it was average and just 13 per cent rated it as bad or very bad. Victoria (53 per cent) and NSW (52 per cent) was more positive about public transport. Queensland (41 per cent) and Western Australia (39 per cent) were less positive.

Interestingly for public transport operators, 39 per cent said they were willing to pay more for a better service compared to 31 per cent who believe they are paying too much and 30 per cent who said they were unsure. Younger people (18-34yrs) were more open to the idea of paying a higher fare for better public transport (44 per cent) than older people (35-54yrs) who were more conservative (34 per cent).

Unsurprisingly for Australia’s well-known love affair with all things technological, 69 per cent of people said they liked using a smart card and 58 per cent said they wanted to use their mobile phone or credit card to pay for public transport.

“This survey is a big tick for the work that Governments and transport operators have been doing to improve public transport in our major cities,” said Margy Osmond, TTF CEO.

“Public transport advocates such as TTF have been beating the drum for many years on the need to improve and invest in our public transport system. It has taken many years and there is still a long way to go but we are seeing significant improvements across the board.

“Australians have been snapping up the opportunity to switch from cash and paper tickets to a dedicated transport card and are keenly looking to the future of using their mobile phones and credit cards directly on public transport.

“TTF, in partnership with UITPANZ (International Association of Public Transport), is holding its leading Australian Transport Summit today in Sydney. This event is bringing together the transport experts from overseas and Australia to discuss the innovation and technological revolution that is changing how we use public transport.

“We have seen a renaissance of our major cities public transport systems over the past few years and that is being supported by an ambitious plan by State and Territory Governments to significantly expand public transport through new projects such as the Sydney Metro, Melbourne Metro, Cross River Rail and the Canberra Light Rail to name a few.

“With the completed roll-out of electronic ticketing systems in our major cities, it’s now time for us to have that discussion about what the next steps are to make the experience of using public transport even better.

“The findings of our nationwide survey show that commuters are open minded about contributing to the cost of better public transport but Government needs to take the public into their confidence with a more transparent approach to fare policies which demonstrates value for money and the rationale behind fare increases.

“If we want good public transport services and we want to expand our networks with new rail lines and new rolling stock we need to have a new approach to how we fund it all and the contribution from commuters is a key area that needs reform.”

TTF Public Transport Survey

How would you rate the public transport network in your local area and/or capital city?
Very good 13%
Good 33%
Average 32%
Bad 8%
Very bad 5%
Unsure – I rarely catch public transport 10%

Do you believe that public transport has improved over the past five years?
Yes, improved a lot 15%
Yes, improved slightly 32%
Stayed more or less the same 32%
No, it’s slightly worse 7%
No, it’s much worse 3%
Unsure – I rarely catch public transport 11%

Would you be willing to pay a higher fare if it provided a better public transport service (more trains, buses, new train lines etc)?
Yes, much more 5%
Yes, a little bit more 34%
Unsure 30%
No, I should be paying slightly less 22%
No, I should be paying much less 9%

Which payment methods would you be happy to use on public transport? (multiple choice)
Cash 47%
Tickets I buy from a vending machine or newsagent etc 38%
A prepaid card that I can reload (OPAL, Myki, go card etc ) 69%
Waving or swiping my bank card over a card reader 33%
Using my mobile phone or other electronic communication device 25%
Other (please specify) 2%

This survey was undertaken by Pureprofile of 1,000 people in Australia on behalf of TTF.