Light rail vehicle in Sydney on an overcast day

Rising prices hurt public confidence in transport

5 April 2023
National survey also reveals economy, housing now bigger concerns than health
Public confidence in transport has dropped significantly in the first quarter of 2023 to the lowest levels in five years, according to the latest report from the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) at the University of Sydney Business School.
Professor David Hensher

Professor David Hensher

Issues including poor road conditions, infrastructure damage and worsening public transport services are on the list of gripes for Australians hit by price hikes coming from fuel, gas, electricity, airfares, bad weather, and rising interest rates.

“Australians believe transport in their local areas is worsening, and many deem economic and financial issues the highest priority for transport in Australia,” said Professor David Hensher, Director of ITLS.

“Drivers are coping with soaring petrol costs while public transport commuters braced for chaos amid industrial actions and network disruptions in the last few months.

“Travellers have experienced sky-high airfares and flight cancellations. Supply chain problems and bad weather have caused a lack of essential goods in stores and supermarkets.”

The survey found public confidence in local transport dropped from 94 index points in September 2022 down to 76 in March 2023.

In a sign of the economic times, the economy and housing bumped health from the top spot as Australians’ highest-priority national issues.

Working from home settled, online shopping slumped

Conducted biannually since 2010, the ITLS Transport Opinion Survey is the only regular national survey to measure public opinion on transport-related issues.

The March 2023 survey was conducted between March 1-9, collecting responses from 1,029 adults on topics including their income, expenses, public and private transport use, and transport infrastructure.

The survey revealed a hybrid working from home pattern is widely accepted and stabilised in Australia, with average weekly working hours and work arrangements in March 2023 almost identical to those in September 2022. 

Graph comparing rates of working from home over time across Australia

The proportion of time Australians spend working from home has reduced and stabilished since researchers started asking the question in early 2022.

Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane workers spend more time working from home than their counterparts in other capital cities or regional areas.

“These findings align with what looks like the 'new normal' in terms of hybrid working, with one to two days a week working from home and three to four days from the office,” said Professor Hensher.

The survey also found fewer Australians shopped online compared to September 2022, a decline from 76 percent down to 70 percent.

The average monthly online spending was $370, with grocery shopping the largest category accounting for about 30 percent of total online spending.

Australians did 33 percent of their total grocery spending online.

Grocery shopping was followed by fashion/apparel (19 percent), hobbies and recreational goods (12 percent), health and beauty products (9 percent) and home and garden products (8 percent).

The preferred delivery method for online shopping varies by product, with 75 percent of online shoppers choosing home delivery for fashion and hobbies products, while 40 to 45 percent choose click-and-collect for groceries, specialty food and liquors, and variety stores.

About the Transport Opinion Survey

The Transport Opinion Survey is the only regular national survey to measure public opinion on transport-related issues.

The March 2023 survey was conducted between the 1-9 March 2023, with completed responses from 1,029 Australians aged over 18 years. The sample is representative of Australia's population distribution and demographic characteristics.

The Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies has been conducting the survey biannually since 2010.

Professor Hensher is available for interviews and the March 2023 report is available at

Media contact

Harrison Vesey

Media Advisor (Business)