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AURIN Flow Graphic

A comprehensive new set of SNAMUTS data for Australia’s five largest capital cities in 2011 and 2016 was released through the AURIN portal today.

The data show that public transport accessibility has improved between 2011 and 2016 in all five cities, and most markedly so in Perth and Sydney.

All five cities opened rail and/or light rail extensions between 2011 and 2016. All cities except Perth also improved daytime service frequencies on their rail systems, with Brisbane and Sydney recording the greatest impact of better rail services on public transport accessibility.

Bus service frequencies were improved in all cities except (with some minor exceptions) in Sydney. Perth stands out as the city with the most comprehensive bus system revamp between 2011 and 2016.

In Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, the number of trains and buses in service grew faster than population between 2011 and 2016. In contrast, in Melbourne and Sydney service levels struggled to keep up with population growth.

Despite still not offering full fare integration between modes, Sydney has the most transfer-dependent public transport system in Australia, a characteristic that was further accentuated between 2011 and 2016.

Geographical coverage of public transport at a full-time, medium-to-high frequency standard has improved between 2011 and 2016 in all five cities. However, it remains at a tangibly lower level in Brisbane and Perth than in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

The resilience of public transport systems – ie. how they are positioned to absorb more passenger growth and expand into new markets – has deteriorated in all cities except Adelaide (the slowest-growing among the five). In Brisbane, the bus system is nearing the ceiling of its capacity. In Melbourne, severe congestion is mounting on several radial rail lines. In Sydney, the CBD area in particular is struggling with limited infrastructure, public transport road space allocation and urban intensification.

Sydney and Melbourne offer better conditions for public transport-oriented living and working than Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, and this gap has widened between 2011 and 2016. In concert, public transport patronage has grown strongly in Melbourne and Sydney but stagnated or (on a per-capita-basis) dropped in Brisbane and Perth.