The voters have spoken loud and clear: they like public transport, they want more of it, but it needs to be convenient and affordable.
752 voters participated in the public transport survey, with a slight bias towards major city voters but rural voters gave it a good go. As expected, the issue of public transport is *vastly* different for those in a major city compare to those in rural areas, but a third category emerged in the data of those on the edges of major city transport systems – often the end of the train line.
The bullet points from the comments are as follows:
- Expect and demand public transport to be accessible, affordable, and convenient with frequent services.
- For many it is their preferred form of transport, particularly for ‘going in to the city’ (Victorians in particular really don’t like driving in the Melbourne CBD).
- Refer often to using public transport when it’s easier than driving, such as attending major events, or heading somewhere that parking is hard or expensive.
- Dislike weather related train disruptions, the dreaded ‘buses replacing trains’, and overcrowding on services.
People won’t use it until it’s really frequent, runs on time and goes where we need to go. I get that it’s too expensive to do that but if I tried to get to work on the bus it would literally take all morning. It takes me 20 mins in the car.54 year old female voter in Melbourne
OUTER SUBURBAN/PROVINCIAL – “THE END OF THE LINE”
- Local services are available but often bad – infrequent, expensive or non-existent – however they prefer to use the train into the city.
- Cost was a major concern, needing to ‘weigh up’ the best option, perhaps drive part way. Generally their thought processes around transport seemed far more complex.
- Many spoke of changing services – and the issues of missing connections, or the need to drive some distance to the train station.
- More likely to use if for family outings, excursions to the city, major events, than their daily commute to work.
I use it on weekends to go into the city to avoid traffic and expensive parking.26 year old male voter on the Gold Coast
There is not a bus that links local towns in our community regularly, only a bus that goes to the city. It is reliable but does not run often enough outside peak hours.66 year old female voter in the Adelaide Hills
- Little or no local public transport options. What is available is generally privatised (which it seems no one likes), prohibitively expensive, and very inconvenient in both poor schedules and the trip time compared to driving. A number commented their community did not have taxis either.
- Spoke of options like catching school buses, or inter-city services as their only available public transport services.
- Some that did have local bus services remarked that they didn’t run at night or on the weekend, when they would like to use them (such as when going out drinking).
- They generally like using public transport when visiting other places.
- Expectations were considerably lower than the other two groups. Some had a realistic attitude that such services would not viable in their town.
I prefer travelling by public transport so I use it whenever I can. There is only one train to Sydney per day where I live and there are no public transport buses at all.70 year old voter in rural NSW
There is no public transport available in my community other than a very limited bus service connecting the town to Perth and other country towns.61 year old male voter in rural WA
Rural voters also connected their lack of public transport to other issues more than other voters. Urban voters did connect public transport with the environment/climate change or city growth, but the lack of public transport was linked by rural voters to services, health, employment, education, fuel prices, the environment, planning and social policy.
All levels of government should be prioritising more investment in public transport as it’s the most sensible way to ease congestion, reduce community emissions and give lower socioeconomic groups access to employment and recreation.60 year old male voter in rural NSW
The ability to access social and medical services in rural and regional areas (including adequate mental health support) is nearly impossible due to the lack of public transport.60 year old female voter in rural NSW
A position on public transport in general is part of a party’s overall outlook on such things as planning for growth, and addressing climate change and social equity so informs me of their views.52 year old female voter in rural Tasmania
We asked about perceptions of reliability of local services and whether there were enough services. Generally most voters were reasonably satisfied with reliability, but there were too few services. May were careful to note the problem was more that the services that were available aren’t going where they need to go, are too infrequent, or don’t run at night and on the weekend.
The bus routes don’t go to local shopping centre. Stop running when going out drinking at night.57 year old female voter in Perth
A wide variety of voters saw public transport as a highly politicised issue: something politicians talked about in election campaigns and then never delivered on. They were also harshly critical of politicians making illogical or incompetent choices, not consulting with users, not being public transport users themselves and thus out of touch, and making decisions that adversely affect people’s lives with little care or concern. The following is an excerpt from a lengthy comment to demonstrate some of the passion around this point.
…The new trains that have been ordered for Sydney to South Coast are a joke. They are too wide for the tunnels they need to go through; they will seat fewer people (when we need more seats); the seats are fixed rather than revolving, so half the passengers will have to sit in reverse for the journey. Most people are journeying for over an hour on this trip; some are travelling for 4 hours. Currently, some people on long journeys at early or late hours will do the less crowded part lying down on the bench seats to get some sleep, sitting up as the train fills, but they won’t be able to do this on the new trains. It is a classic example of a Transport Minister who makes decisions without consultation; a minister who doesn’t actually use public transport making a decision on behalf of those who actually do, and getting it wrong at huge cost to the Australian people.40 year old female voter in Wollongong
When we asked if people had ever been caught in a major transport delay, a new subject entered the conversation: air travel. Airports being closed or flights delayed is obviously very top of mind when thinking about transport chaos. The vast majority of those who were affected by multiple major delays were in Sydney and Melbourne, and often related to track work, weather issues, accidents, and sadly people dying on train tracks.
Sydney – I think that says it all really.Female voter in Sydney
Many respondents commented that they don’t see public transport as a federal issue – it’s a state issue – so while they care a lot about public transport, it doesn’t factor into their vote for the federal election.
Thanks as always to our participants. Remember, you must sign up to the panel to participate in the surveys during the formal election period.