Population ponzi overruns Sydney’s public transport

By Leith van Onselen

Last month, ABC News published an article revealing how almost all of Sydney’s trains are over capacity during the morning peak.

Now, an annual snapshot by the NSW Audit Office has revealed public transport use is soaring across Sydney placing even more strain on crowded trains and buses, which rarely run on time. From The SMH:

…patronage across the public transport network increased by 12 per cent last financial year.

But the Audit Office also highlighted the failure of buses, in particular, to run on time…

The Audit Office attributed the huge growth in passenger trips across Sydney – there were 72 million more public transport trips in 2015-16 compared to the year before – partly to the increased take-up of the Opal card…

Trips on the rail network increased 10.7 per cent last year, from 328 million to 363 million.

Trips on Sydney’s buses increased 12.8 per cent, from 257 million to 290 million. Trips on the light rail line increased by 66 per cent, from six million to 10 million, while ferry trips remained stable…

“The continuing rise in patronage increases pressure on public transport crowding, punctuality and capacity,” the report said…

The Auditor-General’s snapshot also highlights the crowding pressures on trains and buses…

Seriously, what planet are these people living on – blaming the increase in patronage on “the increased take-up of the Opal card”?

How about the circa 400,000 increase in Sydney’s population over the past five years, which is also projected to increase by another 1.74 million over the next 20 years, representing growth of around 1,650 people per week or 87,000 people per year, and is equivalent to adding 4.5 Canberra’s to Sydney’s population?

ScreenHunter_16204 Nov. 21 08.19

It’s the same situation in Melbourne where the train system has become “crush loaded” from incessant population growth (read immigration).

The road system, too, is struggling under the weight of the population influx.

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia’s latest report found that road network “efficiency” has followed the level of population growth. Melbourne, the population growth leader, has suffered the greatest efficiency loss, followed by Sydney (see below graphics).

ScreenHunter_16003 Nov. 09 14.57
ScreenHunter_16002 Nov. 09 14.55

The Bureau of Infrastructure and Regional Economics also forecasts soaring costs of congestion, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, over the next 15 years as their populations continue to boom:

ScreenHunter_15369 Oct. 11 07.21

Blind Freddy can see the direct link between excessive population growth (immigration) and the strains on infrastructure, housing and living standards.

If all Australia is doing is growing for growth’s sake, pushing against infrastructure bottlenecks, diluting its fixed endowment of minerals resources, and reducing the living standards of the existing population, why persist with a mass immigration program?

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  1. Front page story in today’s Age. They don’t dare mention why there’s the need for all the extra police. Maybe something to do with the 800,000 extra people living in Melbourne over the last 10 years?
    Population ponzi overloads Melbourne’s police force?

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      They spoke about this on the wireless this morning. Every issue was discussed except excessive immigration causing the problem. I’d say head in the sand but there’s probably not enough room in the sandpit to even get close.

  2. Given Greater Sydney’s population increased 1.7% yoy according to the latest available statistics, it does seem reasonable when explaining a 10% increase in train usage and a 12% increase in bus usage that there is more to it than the population increase on its own, particularly given the increased patronage has reduced the quality of the service.

    Which is not to say that a disproportionate segment of the population growth being among people with low rates of car ownership, for example, students, mightn’t be a driver.

    • Maybe. Or maybe the roads are so congested that taking public transport is a better option. Or it will be until public transport is so crowded that even congested roads look good.

      • According to the NSW government, about 7% of Sydneysiders use the train system. With 83k population growth, the increase in train trips is equivalent to each of them making 8 trips per week – or, for example, 80% of trips to work done by train.

        There’s more to it than the simple fact that the population grew.

        wrt ‘..until public transport is so crowded even congested roads look good’,
        – ‘But the Audit Office also highlighted the failure of buses, in particular, to run on time…’ suggests Sydney PT already got there.

        Potentially what is meant by the Opal card comment is that they were under-reporting previously, and now are counting a higher proportion of the trips, which would be a plausible explanation for the size of the increase.

      • Since Sydney’s buses could run much faster if Transport for NSW knew what it was doing, the light rail could be done for half the price, as could some of the recent rail extensions, then I don’t see that the crush on Sydney’s public transport can be slated home to excessive immigration.

        If buses, trams and trains were run to the best European standards (German, Czech, Polish – not French or British), meaning double the capacity for the same spend in most cases, and there was still a crush, then maybe it’s immigration.

        However, let’s not confuse the incompetence of Public Transport for NSW with an immigration problem. There IS an immigration problem. However, the present PT crush in NSW is due to incompetence or corruption. The recently released Auditor General’s report on the new light rail makes that quite clear. That report sets out the facts. It’s incompetence on a massive scale. Immigration is a complicating factor, possibly, but without the counterfactual, how can we know?

        Edit: Robert, Sydney buses run on a front door loading basis. European best practice is to have all door loading and exit. That means much faster loading and unloading, therefore buses move more quickly through the CBD, meaning less buses per km, leading to less congestion and faster passenger trips. However, TfNSW steadfastly refuse to countenance European best practice, and buses needlessly congest CBD streets.

      • @emess – many buses / bus stops in the CDB do in fact allow multi-door loading during peak hours no – has been the case for a year or so,

    • I am still concerned that the ‘population ponzi’ is the wrong term to use, given our below replacement fertility. It gives the wrong impression and perhaps Leith means ‘immigration ponzi’ and even then this ignores our peaking emigration at the moment.

      • Yeah yeah, that’s what you said 3yrs ago…and then the population grew by over 1 million extra residents

      • In the three years to March 2016 population grew by 1.0 mill.
        In the three years to March 2015 population grew by 1.1 mill

        Looks like a slowdown to me.

      • “below replacement fertility” is because both partners have to go out to work full-time to pay for the mortgage.

        What makes you think that women (it is women who make these decisions) don’t want to have more kids?

        Prosperity is what is left over after all the bills have been paid – and that is going down very fast.

      • Alfred
        1973 was the last time we were at replacement fertility.
        Women entering the workforce, education of women and growing overall national prosperity are the main drivers of low fertility.

      • Willy – what will you suggest as the annual intake which can offset the loss due to fertility rate? Or why not like RBA give the immigration minister a target to decide the immigration number based on fertility rate so that population stays same?

      • willy_nilly, it’s largely irrelevant what our fertility rate is. The fact is that our population is growing faster than the infrastructure to even cope with the present population. Given that we are on a mass immigration program, against the wishes of most of our citizens, it’s very definitely a population ponzi to keep out housing ponzi going. What else can it be apart from a population ponzi?

      • Amit
        A NOM of 36,000 would see our population stabalise and that is my supported position. Note we do not have control over emigration and that is at historical highs.

        “Immigration ponzi’ would be more accurate than ‘population ponzi’

        This issues of increased urbanisation should not be confused with population growth. Indeed approx 30% of our population growth is more people living longer, or the demographic momentum.


    • You don’t have to live in CBD, just live somewhere near a ferry route – its a perfectly civilized form of public transport. Mosman, Vaucluse, Double Bay, Kirribilli are all good. Point Piper you will need your own mooring.

  3. * The elites don’t suffer much from congested public transport
    * The elites benefit from the asset price increase + PPPs that allow tax effective monopoly rents
    * The elites see the population ponzi as a way to keep the plebs focused on each other and not on them.

    • Agree, I’ve been in Sydney on business a few times in last few months and just refused to get the train after a while. Overcrowded, no aircon in the stations. I get the train most days in Melb and its a breeze by comparison. That said – I use two of the better lines and I’ve still noticed increase in usage over last few years.

    • wasabinatorMEMBER

      Agreed, that’s why I moved here from Sydney! However, having lived abroad for a fair number of years (after growing up in Sydney), comparisons between Melbourne are starting to looking to me like rating which city is worst, or 2nd worst in the western world.

      • Melbourne is a dream indeed.
        A dream of a day with steady weather, no wind and, well, summer.
        My work has me driving metropolitan regularly and being in both I’d vote for Sydney’s traffic being more congested but less stressful.
        Try going down 36km Springvale road from the very top and stop at 90% of the traffic lights (that would be almost all of them down to Springvale)
        Or Princes Hwy from Dandenong to city

      • wasabinatorMEMBER

        @Djenka, Melbourne is also tailgater central compared to even Sydney. So many idiots on the road.

      • Come on 🙂 London is 10x worse than either. Do you know the average speed, across the whole day not just commuting times, inside the M25 in 15mph?? Trains in London make Melb and Sydney look spacious. And when we talk London we’re really talking whole of the SE. Paris is also bad, and I’m sure everywhere has its issues.

        However Aus should do much better than it does given the space.

      • wasabinatorMEMBER

        @Dave, I lived in London and also Tokyo for substantial stretches. The population is indeed dense in both those places, but both are actual world class cities with a massive amount of history and countless things to do, so that comes with the territory. I don’t consider SydMelb world class. The trains shuttled me with a sense of urgency I have never seen even remotely in Aus. And I had to run some of the biggest corridors in London, initially renting in Old Street, with office in Putney – 3 trains total but the experience was walk on/walk off. Rarely an issue. In comparison, I have to travel 15kms to work in Melbourne and my god does it test my patience! Also, career opportunities are immense compared to here unless you are a tradie or real estate agent.

      • Comparisons with London – our government is hell-bent on growing the population so we’ll reach London’s population in record time.

      • “initially renting in Old Street, with office in Putney – 3 trains total but the experience was walk on/walk off.”

        Interesting. I had the opposite, living in Putney and commuting to Blackfriars. Rarely described as walk on/off 🙂 You were going against traffic. But I do get your point generally, its a given with London and trades off against much better work opportunities.

      • London is a dream to get round in – the Underground amazing… gets up to 100km/hr between stops. Yes cramped, but OK considering.

        During the day, often quicker than the Black Cabs.

  4. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Hey, shut up! Stop highlighting the serious issues with our rampant population growth because us investors need more and more renters and sooner!!! You are just being rashist against populations!

    • Fundamentally, the question is not about population, but infrastructure. Correspondence on this site fails to grasp the two… decries population growth – and the opposes all infrastructure.

      Its like clown training…

      • Did God tell you that RT?
        “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

  5. wasabinatorMEMBER

    The rich must be laughing all the way to the bank, which they can arrive to on time due to their ferries being unaffected.

  6. Lefties love it and the ban on luxury showers/toilets.

    Time to charge foreigners $30/day for train tickets.

    • Tankwater + solar HW, I removed 2 low flow filters
      Like being on town water
      power bill down significantly

    • My heart bleeds for hoteliers and patrons.

      Efficient use of water, how shocking! (esp in Melbourne)

      • I am not sure what you mean.

        Do you have a luxury high flow shower at home?

        The Ford factory is going offshore, so less water needed there.

        But lefties love mass immigration – so we get less water per capita again.

        Just put a $5/kL tax on tap water and have a $5k/year rebate for the poor, and remove the ban on luxury showers/toilets.

  7. Immigration is really only at the margin in regard to demand, the underlying issue is how we all behave…… do we need to keep on building all public systems, transport, electricity, roads you name it to cope for “peak demand” which may only last for a short period each, day, month or year. Shouldn’t we be exploring other solutions ie pricing mechanisms, changing work hours whatever or do we just keep on wasting taxpayer funds investing in infrastructure which is mostly under utilized..

    • “Immigration is really only at the margin in regard to demand”. Really? So adding 1.7 million people (4.5 Canberra’s) over 20 years has only a marginal impact?

      I agree with you on the other points you make. But continually adding huge swathes of people into the equation each and every year has more than a “marginal” impact.

    • Population is THE issue.
      It is at the core of demand and consumption drivers.
      That is why the FIRE lobby pump it so hard

    • Stewart, to suggest peak times are short indicates you’ve obviously not experienced peak HOURS of traffic in Sydney or Melbourne.
      I live in Sydney and have to fly to Melbourne for work every few weeks
      You can drive to from north to south in Sydney at 5:30am and still encounter traffic that won’t let up until 10:30am
      The afternoon peak starts at 2:30pm and goes through until 7:00pm.
      That’s almost 10 hours a day of congestion.
      Then try driving your kids around Sydney for sport on a Saturday.
      Mix in a bunch of new arrivals all driving their gold toyotra camrys and subarus with their limited spacial awareness and its a recipe to drive you insane
      If we are to tolerate high immigration we should build regional cities. Newcastle for example.
      Our completely inept political elites will however continue to invite people here, increase density and do nothing about infrastructure. Enjoy, Australia.

  8. I’m in Vietnam at the moment and travelling around. Yesterday we ran into some European backpackers and got to chatting. Recently they said they did some travelling in Australia and stayed in Sydney, they were telling me how Sydney was so disappointing. They said how expensive it was and congested, the people rude and the place had no culture, like it was just thrown together and had conflicting views of itself.

    It was a bit of a depressing situation because in the past when I would travel and other travellers would speak enthusiastically about Australia, however now it seems the gloss has wore off and now we are just one big disappointment.

    We also talked about university education and it appears Australian universities are the laughing stock of Europe from their comments.

    • wasabinatorMEMBER

      Sydney’s “culture” begins and ends at the Merivale chain of superficial bars…

      I think it was a pretty nice city up to the 2000 olympics, then it just became way too full of itself.

      • Yes winning the Sydney Olympics was the beginning of the end, it all went down rapidly after that moment.

      • Yeah, in retrospect the 2000 Olympics do seem to mark a change in the city, a lot of money that could have gone into infrastructure was largely squandered on facilities for that event and it roughly coincides with the start of Howards massive ramping up of the immigration intake that has been maintained ever since. We’ve expanded the population of the city a good 20% in those 16 years since greatly worsening what was already an infrastructure deficit.

      • Wow thats what i have been saying for years. The 2000 Olympics was the turning point. Sydney afterwards became a mediocre over-rated shithole. The real Sydney died long ago back in the late 1990s.

    • and yet we pay a fortune to live here – nuts

      be careful crossing the roads, don’t stop moving!

    • I met an Indian guy a few years ago and he said “AUS is great because it is sparsely populated and has a lot of land/resources”.

      Amazing that the ALP and Greens are hell bent on destroying it.

  9. The auditor-general answers to NSW parliament, of course she’s not going to blame the clusterfuck that is the population ponzi.

    • So the auditor general of India has more integrity?

      Given that he concluded “the government was I totally utterly stupid/corrupt in handing out coal mines instead of auctioning them”

      Maybe she is a landlord and loves the ponzi.

      • Merely pointing out that, even when government corruption and incompetence is on plain display, other components of the public service tend to not call them on it (even when that’s ostensibly their role/s). We’ve all seen it.

        Birds of a feather f#ck together?

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      I think it’s well known nowadays that bicycles were invented by the early communists! And I’m sure there’s old photos of Karl Marx atop a penny farthing!!

    • Bicycle requires culture of a specific type and smaller cities/towns spread fairly close.
      Colonial life is different.
      Imagine cycling from Penrith to CBD to see your uncle or Campbelltown to Hornsby to see your grandpa.

      To sum up, 10k in Europe is like 100k in Australia

  10. “… why persist with a mass immigration program?” Well, we all know the answer to that.

    The thing is that the overwhelming majority don’t want a mass immigration program but we get told it’s good for us, despite evidence to the contrary, and if we don’t like it, then we must be racists, so that shuts down any sort of discussion.

  11. hi, i’m a guy in his twenties who feels like there’s nothing left in this failed country for him. i live in a rural area and can never afford to live in the big cities and even the rural areas arent cheap real estate wise. where can i go, how can i get out of here?

    • What are your skills?

      If not much, try this, get a license to transport explosive materials. Learn to drill…. learn to tolerate living in a caravan.

      Try your hand up in the Pilbara, these are the skills for “powder monkeys” who are notoriously drunk, unreliable and need locums to replace them. Lack of experience has reasonable odds of becoming experienced. These are skills that are used even in production, not just exploration or development.

      Pay is good, if hard work. Then after you get some experience, then E3 it to the US, Caeser Augustus Trumpus will likely mean plenty of work.

      When you’re 35, buy in property in Montana, learn to speak Ukranian, pick up a bride fleeing a shit life (make sure she’s young 20’s, you want them healthy ovums.. and don’t tech her English, buy Ukrainian satellite TV) and pop out 5-8 kids.


    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      Get yourself to some property seminars and do some courses. It’s knowledge that will not only get you a prestigious job in your town’s premier estate agency, it will help you build your wealth via property and also get you increased relations (all depending on how good looking you are of course).

    • robert2013MEMBER

      For a quick exit, if you have a degree, get a TESOL qualification and go and teach English. Many jobs all over the world.

    • If you are thinking of uni, and will get good marks, Come to Germany. Google hochschule Rhein-waal. Do an undergrad degree at a Uni of applied sciences, includes an internship, for the cost of about 300 Euro per year you will have a German degree, no debt, and will have spent 3 years in Europe and end up speaking half decent Deutsch. Good value.

  12. The difference between Melbourne-Sydney and Mumbai is:people in Mumbai do not have access to credit.
    Once people in Melbourne-Sydney run out of credit, they will be like people in Mumbai.

  13. We have 2.4 million (1.9 million temporary visa) 85k overstayer & at least 400k tourist (5% of 8 million tourist multiple stay etc) on pretext visa most working illegally.

    The 457 & backpacker category is fractional.
    Take the 1.9 milllion temporary Visa subset.
    This report shows that over 90% are not 457, are unskilled and most of third world country of original origin.

    June 2016 visa type & country origin stats.
1.85 million at 8% growth rate so 1.9 milllion now…



    We have 1 million third world migrant guestworkers EACH in both Sydney & Melbourne.
1 in 5 people – third world, low skilled, non contributing, here on a visa alibi to work.

That’s the problem.
There is the impact to our housing , jobs, buses, trains, education, cost of living, quality of life, standard of living, housing demand, social & crime issues – etc – all of massively impacted & degraded by over 1 million largely unskilled mostly illegally working third world migrant guestworkers in each city.
=> It is much bigger issue than just 457 & backpackers – it’s 10 x bigger in the scale of migrant guestworker numbers & impact.

    That is why we need a Royal Commission into the entire scope of the Temporary & Tourist Visa rackets.