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Public transport growth surges past NSW government predictions

Growth on the [NSW] public transport network has hurtled past long-term government predictions, with 93 million more trips taken on buses and trains last year [FY 2018-19] than what was forecast for 2031.

A report used by the NSW government as the “framework” for investing tens of billions in transport projects over the coming decades predicted rail growth would increase by 26% between 2011 and 2031.

However, the rail network reached and then exceeded that predicted figure by 2017, more than a decade early.

Rabe, Singhal (2020-02-19)

Several people have highlighted the government’s response.

Asked how it would respond to the patronage, the state’s transport agency said the department was “delighted” that demand was outpacing population growth.

Rabe, Singhal (2020-02-19)

This story in the SMH is based on research I conducted and brought to Mr Rabe’s attention, back in November 2019. It took awhile to get the all the planets aligned.

Pallavi Singhal was very thorough and went to the annual reports of Transport for NSW etc. Singhal found that the Department’s estimated patronage was even higher then I had calculated from the open data.

The original graph is also available here.

Number of NSW Railway and Bus journeys with FY 2019-20 Estimate

Citation: Rabe, Singhal (2020-02-19)

Tom Rabe, Pallavi Singhal. 2020-02-19. “Public transport growth surges past NSW government predictions.” Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax Media LtdNine Entertainment Co. Sydney, NSW, Australia. Accessed 2020-02-21

My Quotes

‘University of Technology transport expert Mathew Hounsell said the figures reinforced the need for the government to invest more in the city’s heavy rail and bus network.

“There is no plan to deal with this level of growth,” he said. “What we’re now seeing is there’s a lot more growth above what’s forecast.”

Rabe, Singhal (2020-02-19)

‘Patronage on public transport grew by 5.3 per cent in 2019 alone, far above that of population, which Mr Hounsell said indicated a behavioural shift in the community.

“There needs to be significant investment in the heavy rail system to cope with the increase in demand and changing habits. The Bankstown Metro won’t address these problems,” he said.

“There’s no technical issues, it’s just a matter of the politicians investing where they need to, not where they think there’s more votes.”

Mr Hounsell said simple improvements to the city’s traffic light network, bus stops and routes would have an immediate impact on the network, as well as other “low hanging fruit that doesn’t get a ribbon cutting ceremony”.

He added the rapid growth on the network indicated that when the government invested in transport infrastructure, it was utilised.

“If you provide high quality public transport, high frequency public transport, people use it,” he said.

The biggest growth on the network came from Sydney’s North Shore line, which jumped 37 per cent, and the T5 Cumberland line, which increased by 10 per cent.

Rabe. Singhal (2020-02-19)