Private car to remain king for "a generation or more"

27 March 2019
The majority of Australians remain wedded to private cars despite the heavy promotion of public transport, according to a recent survey by the University of Sydney Business School.

The survey, conducted by the Business School’s internationally respected Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS), also found that car-sharing and bike-sharing remained of limited appeal to the travelling public.

In the wake of the survey the Director of the ITLS, Professor David Hensher, has predicted that “it may be another generation or more before we see a noticeable willingness to shed the private car and move to a mobility sharing culture”.

We continue to face a gargantuan challenge in getting people out of their cars.
Professor David Hensher

When asked about transport modes used in the last month, more than 82 percent of survey respondents said they had travelled by private car, while only 36 percent had taken a bus and 33 percent had caught a local suburban train.

Nearly half of the car users travel exclusively by private motor vehicle while the remaining half also use other forms of transport. Ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft were used by 20 percent of respondents ahead of taxis which were used by 15 percent.

Commenting on the findings Professor Hensher said, “we continue to face a gargantuan challenge in getting people out of their cars”.

Of those car users who also caught public transport, Victorians preferred local train/tram over bus (31 percent vs 21 percent) while Queenslanders preferred bus over train (30 percent vs. 21 percent). NSW car users also used trains and buses at the same rate (around 28 percent each).

The survey also looked the way that business travellers used their time during long train or air journeys and found that three-quarter spend less than 40 percent of their time engaged in productive work. Only one in four use 40 percent or more of their long-haul travel time to work.

The TOPS index of transport confidence which measures public confidence in transport infrastructure and services provided by local and national authorities, has improved since a major fall in 2015.

The short-term transport confidence index for local transport is now at 78, up from 44 in September 2015 but down from 85 recorded in September last year. The long-term confidence index in Australian transport increased to 77 from 74 in the first quarter of last year, yet decreased from 83 in the last year third quarter.

TOPS is the only regular national survey (commencing in 2010) to measure public opinion on transport-related issues. The first-quarter 2019 report is available at:

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