What we need to get commuters back on public transport

RACQ has renewed calls for an integrated public transport authority to find solutions to attract people back to public transport, after it was revealed patronage was still down 40 percent on pre-COVID levels.

The Brisbane Times reported passenger numbers were down across buses, ferries, trains and trams as many office workers and students were still working or learning from home.

RACQ Head of Public Policy Rebecca Michael said Club research showed 15 percent of those surveyed said they would use public transport less after the pandemic.

“People told us they had health and social distancing concerns, were worried about the lack of services and seating, and didn’t need to travel as regularly anymore,” Dr Michael said. 

“Building trust in public transport reliability and performance is critical to encouraging drivers to shift to public transport and reduce congestion.

“We need improved service frequency, reliability, efficiency and value for money to incentivise people to make the switch from their cars.

“Currently we have too many bodies looking after our public transport, that’s why we’ve been calling for politicians to commit to establishing one organisation which can deliver Queenslanders the seamless services they deserve.”

Dr Michael said traffic was returning to pre-COVID levels but public transport was lagging behind. 

“The data shows people are more willing to travel by car than catch a train, bus or ferry,” she said. 

“We are at crossroads now because people are changing the way they work and travel and even with reduced COVID-19 risk, unless we act now, we may not see people return to public transport in the same levels as before.

“We don’t want workers to continue the habit of driving into the city, as that will only increase congestion on our roads, so we need to do everything we can to encourage more sustainable transport practices like public transport, walking or cycling.”