Carmageddon awaits unless work from home continues

With social distancing likely to be the norm over the next two years, the notion of sardine-packing residents into trains, buses and trams is obviously no longer viable if Australia is to contain outbreaks of COVID-19.

Indeed, a new Roy Morgan survey suggests Australia faces a dilemma: “continue working from home or return to work in the office with potentially millions of other Australians?”

Over 12 million Australians aged 14+ (58%) use public transport in an average three months. Trains are the most popular form of public transport used by 9.2 million (44%) ahead of buses used by 8 million (38%) and trams used by 3.4 million (16%).

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in recent months has raised new questions about the safety of mass transit systems as Australians start returning to a more normal work-life experience as restrictions are gradually eased.

Many have suggested the public transport systems in Australia’s largest cities are already over-loaded and usage of public transport does correlate to population size.

Nearly 3.4 million Sydneysiders use public transport, equal to 76% of the city’s population, and over 3 million Melburnians (71% of the population) use public transport.

After these two large cities there is a substantial drop-off in public transport usage to Brisbane – 1.2 million (59%), Perth – 1 million (60%) and Adelaide – 660,000 (59%). Only 100,000 residents of Hobart use public transport representing just over half (52%) of the city’s population.

Analysis by generation shows a clear correlation between age and how likely someone is to use public transport with 3.4 million Australians in the youngest generation, Gen Z* (72%), using public transport…

“Over 12 million Australians use public transport in an average three months – and this includes over 3 million in both Sydney and Melbourne. The packed nature of public transport in peak hour is well-known to anyone who has been used to catching trains, trams and buses to work.

“It is practically impossible to follow social distancing guidelines on peak hour public transport and this raises the question of alternatives such as continuing to work from home, companies staggering working hours for different employees or finding a safer means of transport such as driving into work.

Sydney’s and Melbourne’s transport systems were already operating at breaking point before COVID-19, thanks to 15 years of extreme immigration-driven population growth. Clearly, they will not be able to cope with a sudden surge of travelers on roads.

The only solution is for a large chunk of the population to continue working from home.

Leith van Onselen


  1. but if working from home continues it is going to create a CBDgedon –
    commercial property is going to trigger property market avalanche

    • DominicMEMBER

      Wouldn’t that be a shame.

      Still, it won’t sit comfortably with the Property PM, who will no doubt be spraying taxpayer money around in some other lame attempt to save it all.

  2. Mining BoganMEMBER

    Chairman Dan said on the wireless this morning that he only wants 15% utilisation of PT otherwise we be virustown again, hence his directive to stay at home you suit wearing nerds otherwise gridlock.

    15%. Currently at 18% apparently. That wouldn’t make a lot of money. Wouldn’t even cover costs. Can public transport go broke?

    • It’s an interesting question. We’ll be allowed to reopen thepool on Mondaybut we all got an email yesterday saying were still trying to figure out how to make this work and remain in conversation with the council about how to measure the benefits to community, staff and the business. I took that as meaning the council is probably a bit strapped for cash. I’m guessing we won’t reopen until thegym can but boy oh boy will the council be losing money from us for a long time (which will be an unpleasant change as we were one off thefew centres who actually made a small profit)

      • The Traveling Wilbur

        Hey, Poppy, know how to save money and time on getting a pool in and going?

        Find a contractor you don’t like and give them 10k.

        Then go to Bunnings, buy a shovel and spend two months digging a hole in your backyard yourself.

  3. If it’s working for you and your employer, then why stop it ?

    The CBD and centralisation of white-collar knowledge workplaces just makes no sense.

    Unless you’re a vested interest facing a write down in the value of your assets, or have been in a coma since the 19th century

    But that’s progress

    Allowing a quarter of the workforce to work from home, and providing more flexibility to the remainder will have an immense positive environmental and social impact

    Those wanting a return to “normal” are fighting a losing battle. The new norm is here. Get used to it, and make the most of it.

  4. I see Wilson parking have dropped their usual highway robbery rates to something reasonable to encourage people flow into cbd. They must be terrified at wfh. Couldnt think of a better bunch to be crunched by karma bus. Agree with Leith … wfh will be in until virus beaten and population SAFELY vaccinated. With vaccine known to have no even slightly serious side effects.


      It’s plenty entertaining to just pull into and then head out of a Wilson’s and say you changed your mind about parking and hand back the ticket that’s already clocked $30.00.If the attendent is obnoxious and demands payment, just advise you have no money. If you’re lucky those behind may begin to blast thier horns impatiently and the boom will be raised.

  5. Partner and two best mates workplaces are returning Tues 9 June after the long weekend. Anyone else?

    The day to watch!!

  6. TheRedEconomistMEMBER

    i started a new gig and want to ride to work but the showers and end of trip facilities are shut.

    kind of defeats the purpose of getting staff to avoid public transport.

    • And this is why I’ll continue to WFH, not that my productivity has dropped, in actual fact it’s increased because the time saved travelling I’m getting more work done. The WFH experience for me has gotten even better since my NBN FTTC install, 5ms ping to work, it’s like I’m there at my desk with that sort of latency.