Public transport ridership hits post-pandemic peak
More Queenslanders are choosing public transport as their mode of travel, with commuter numbers hitting the highest level since the start of the pandemic.
Translink data shows 527,048 journeys were made on the South East Queensland network on Tuesday August 9, which marked the highest daily ridership figure since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of trips on August 9 surpassed the previous record of 521,343 trips made on March 10, 2021.
Public transport ridership for the week ending August 14, 2022 is 73% higher than pre-pandemic travel by bus, ferry, light rail and heavy rail combined.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the increase in commuter numbers was encouraging and reflected strong confidence in the public transport network.
“The positive rise shows Queenslanders are choosing public transport more often,” Mr Bailey said.
“Our priority now is to continue to encourage the use of public transport and support this growth by planning for a reliable, safe and accessible Queensland passenger transport system across the state.
“From the numbers we can see that light rail on the Gold Coast continues to perform very well, with customers returning to the G at higher fares than other modes of transport.
“We continue to invest in public transport at record levels, to provide people with easy and convenient access to public transport.”
Mr Bailey said the new Cross River Rail stations would increase the attractiveness of public transport because of their location.
“Having new CBD stations and a station at the Gabba’s doorstep will open up the transport network to so many new people who might not have had a station nearby,” he said.
“We are not just building Cross River Rail, we are building a new network.
“Our SEQ Rail Connect document outlines a pipeline of investments and opportunities.
“There are also over thirty stations on the network, either in the planning, procurement or delivery phase, which will be fully compliant with disability standards, including stations associated with Cross River Rail, Transport Oriented Developments and the program Queensland Rail Station Accessibility Upgrade.”
Translink has launched a number of initiatives to encourage customers to use the network, including increased cleaning, additional train and bus services, monitoring of service capacity and the possibility of taking bicycles and electric scooters on trains during rush hour.
The Palaszczuk government also offers fare discounts, including off-peak hours, concessions, and the “eight and a half fare” program offered under the Fairer Fares initiative.
“Fairer Fares has saved Queenslanders more than $241 million since 2016 and we will continue to support saving initiatives like this to make public transport more attractive,” Mr Bailey said.
In the early months of the pandemic, attendance dropped as much as 20% from pre-COVID levels. Patronage fell to this low level again in January and February during the Omicron wave.
In stark contrast, Ekka Bank Holiday footfall was around 80.6% of pre-COVID levels as people took advantage of the day to get around the network. The highest ridership figure was Gold Coast light rail, where ridership exceeded 94.5% of pre-COVID levels.
“It has been a difficult time for everyone and we recognize that there has been a change in the way they travel. However, Translink continues to adapt to meet the public transport needs of Queenslanders,” Mr Bailey said.
“It’s important to remember that COVID-19 remains prevalent in the community and wearing a mask on public transport is a crucial defense against it.”
Highlights from Translink figures:
- The 527,048 trips recorded on August 9, 2022 were the highest since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The previous record for most trips since the pandemic was 521,343 on March 10, 2021.
- Passenger travel is above 73% of pre-pandemic levels for the week ending the 14thAugust 2022.
- Patronage on the Ekka holiday was around 80.6% compared to before COVID-19. Light rail ridership reached 94.5%.