Urban Mobility Trends reports
How we’re moving
We asked people which modes of transport people they use daily or regularly (several times a week) now—and how they think their transport choices could change over the next year. With some minor variations, most people say they’re expecting their transport use (across all modes) to stay the same over the next 12 months.
At the time we conducted this survey (21 June to 15 July 2022), the latest data showed public transport patronage was below pre-pandemic levels in all cities we surveyed. At the same time, private vehicle travel indicators (such as Transurban’s Average Daily Traffic figures) were showing a return to pre-pandemic levels.
Work, holidays, errands: our travel choices
Where people are headed appears to influence their travel choices. We asked people about their reasons for using different travel modes, including toll roads, Express Lanes and public transport. Overall, we found:
The most common reason for using public transport is to commute
People rely on local and arterial roads when running errands
The most common reason for using toll roads or Express Lanes is to go on a getaway, or for travel to and from the airport
Taking new routes for our commutes
We asked people how often they travel to their workplace, how they get to work, and whether their commuting patterns have changed since the start of the pandemic. We found that most people expect to travel to their workplace for most of the work week and that a significant proportion of people had changed their mode of commute since COVID-19.
The average number of days people travel to their workplace or place of study is similar for respondents who work/study in the inner city and those who work/study in the wider metropolitan area.
The average number of days per week people expect to work from home once the risk of COVID-19 has passed is 1.8, down from 2.8 in July 2020.
people have changed the way they get to work and/or study since the pandemic started
Most people who have changed their commute switched from public transport to a private vehicle
Our latest findings show a significant increase in flexible work availability since the start of the pandemic. In July 2022, we found 71% of people had access to varied start and finish times, compared to 37% who had access to this option pre-pandemic.
In our February 2021 report we explained how the adoption of flexible work and/or school hours in our Australian cities could help spread peak-hour traffic and prevent congestion returning to pre-COVID-19 levels (or worse). These changes could, if implemented on a large scale, improve the efficiency of cities’ overall transport networks. We’ve seen that small shifts in when people travel can deliver significant travel-time savings.
To learn more about the best time to travel on our roads—and how to maximise your travel-time savings—visit our Travel page.
Licenced to thrive
An essential for many Australians
For most people in Australia, a driver's licence is a necessity to head to the shops or attending medical appointments. Nearly half of people surveyed in Australia said they need a drivers licence to participate in social activities and as a requirement of their job.
Most people learn to drive from their parents or guardian, but not everyone has someone available to teach them how to drive, or the means to be able to pay for lessons.
To help overcome this Transurban works with driver training schools to provide free driving lessons to those who need them most.
Weighing up travel options
How do people choose which mode of transport to take? What’s influencing their decisions? When we asked, most people said their choices were influenced by reliability, safety and ease of access.
While petrol prices are a top cost of living concern, petrol prices don’t currently appear to be having a significant impact on everyday transport choices.
Eyes on the prices
We’ve all been talking about broccoli’s recent transformation into a “luxury food” item: but which living costs are people the most concerned about? And are transport-related costs among these? Our data shows our top transport-related cost of living concern is petrol: 61%+ of people surveyed across Australia, the Greater Washington Area and Montreal nominated petrol pricing as a top-five concern.
Dig into the data below to see how answers to our cost of living question varied based on location, age and gender.
Fuel prices influence on travel choices
We asked people whether, and how much, the price of fuel influences their transport choices. Despite fuel prices being a top cost of living concern (see above), most people say they don’t consider—or only occasionally consider—the price of fuel when making short trips or commuting. However, when people are planning long trips, the price of fuel is a considerable factor.
Running on empty
The price of fuel influences when people chose to refuel in Australia, with 33% waiting to refuel until they see a low fuel price. Nearly 1 in 5 admit to waiting to refuel until the fuel empty light appears on their dashboard.
As well as making motorists late for whatever they’re travelling to, running out of fuel on a motorway can have significant consequences on traffic flow and result in increased congestion. Transurban’s Incident Response Teams help motorists who have run out of fuel on our roads by giving them a top up.
This helps to ensure the motorists can move safely off the motorway and clears congestion for other motorists. In 2021 on CityLink alone, we responded to one out-of-fuel incident a day. We regularly run driver awareness campaigns around the importance of ensuring people have enough fuel to reach their destination safely.
Despite high levels of concern for climate change (see section below), most people are ambivalent about the greenhouse gases emitted from their chosen mode of transport. And this ambivalence is leading to inaction—most people admit the greenhouse gas emissions produced by different modes of transport do not factor into their transport choices, or only do so occasionally and when promoted.
These findings are consistent with our February 2022 report. The findings suggest a disconnect between people’s general concern for climate change, and their understanding about how they can act to reduce their own carbon footprint.
With 9.6 million customers across Australia and North America, we have an important role to play in educating motorists about how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, including by promoting eco-driving. Right now, we’re running customer experience programs to help educate people on the benefits of switching to electric vehicles.