Buses caught up in NSW public transport pessimism

A new survey released this week says NSW commuters remain pessimistic about public transport

Buses caught up in NSW public transport pessimism
Buses caught up in NSW public transport pessimism
By David Goeldner | June 24, 2010

Bus transport in New South Wales is suffering as a consequence of a poor public perception of rail services, a University of Sydney study shows.

ITLS Director Professor David Hensher says the quarterly Transport Opinion Survey rates NSW commuters as the most pessimistic about the future of public transport, followed closely by WA.

"It’s clear to us that the survey reflects the unsatisfactory delivery of promises from the NSW government on matters relating to public transport," Hensher says.

He says commuters are clearly happy to see investment in buses, but poor perception is centred on rail services.

"Buses have an increasingly larger role to play, and yet people are being critical because of the other mode."

More than half of those surveyed say improving public transport was Australia’s highest transport priority, with less than a quarter saying better roads should be the top priority.

The findings suggest Australians are looking towards sustainable transport solutions, says Hensher.

He adds only one in five Australians think transport in their local area has improved in the last year, with a similar number saying transport in their local area will improve in the next year.

Hensher says the main concern for bus passengers was frequency.

"This response comes up all the time."

While reasons behind low public transport confidence in NSW can be explained, Hensher remains puzzled about a similarly low result in WA.

"There has been a change of government and we are not sure what was done to make people more pessimistic in the west," Hensher says.

"It’s a tricky one."

Hensher agrees with recent comments from BIC Executive Director Michael Apps that buses need to be reborn.

"People don’t understand what buses can deliver," Hensher says.

The public transport survey was not all ‘doom and gloom’, revealing high levels of confidence in Queensland.

"In Queensland people see good things happening," Hensher says.

He says Queenslanders and South Australians are the most optimistic about public transport in Australia being better in five years.

The survey also says each state except Victoria is content to see more private sector involvement in public transport.

TOPS is the first survey to measure transport opinions on a regular basis.

The June 2010 quarterly report is at http://sydney.edu.au/business/itls/tops.

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