Road usage in Greater Sydney fell by a third during April 2020. This steadily recovered and by early June was approaching levels comparable with the same time last year. During June, July and August, road usage has stabilised at around five to 10 per cent fewer vehicle movements compared to the same day in 201967, similar to what it is like to be on the road during school holidays.
Rebalancing travel demand across the day
Public transport patronage dropped to 20 per cent during the initial lockdown and reverted to around 45 per cent in August 2020 compared to August 201968. This aligned with efforts to discourage non-essential travel so that customer safety and travel by essential workers could be prioritised. Commuters are also exercising more discretion about what time of day they travel and are encouraged to avoid the busiest times.
Reduced demand during the traditional morning and afternoon peaks has helped to manage demand, and is making it easier to avoid service delays at busy CBD stations and improve on-time running. It has also helped to reduce congestion and improve the efficiency of the overall transport network.
Flexible working arrangements have the potential to spread the working day and reduce pressure on peak road and public transport usage. This creates the prospect of actively shaping travel demand across the day, which could reduce congestion and improve productivity of Greater Sydney as a whole.