Half a million Sydneysiders return to public transport after lockdown

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More than half a million Sydneysiders returned to public transport in the first two weeks after Delta’s lockdown, returning to the network three times faster than after the 2020 shutdown.

Patronage has increased nearly 200% since the deepest lockdown in July, according to Transport for NSW data, with an average of 825,000 trips taken each day last week as students returned to school and workers began to enter the offices.

Patronage on Sydney’s public transport system exploded in the two weeks following the lockdown.Credit:Nick moir

“In the first two weeks after the lockdown restrictions eased, we saw over 500,000 customers come back to the network. After the April 2020 lockdown, it took the network six weeks to see that kind of comeback, ”said a spokeswoman for Transport for NSW.

Despite the recent increase, ridership remains 65% below pre-COVID levels, while road traffic has almost returned to normal, with people opting for their cars over trains and buses, with roads being recorded at 91% of 2019 levels.

University of Sydney senior lecturer in transport management Geoffrey Clifton said many commuters have chosen to drive during the pandemic to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19, with the habit likely to continue after locking.

“The pandemic has created the perception that passenger cars are healthier than public transport. Many people who have switched to the car will continue to drive even if we open up, ”said Dr Clifton.

He added that it could be years before Sydney’s public transport returns to pre-pandemic levels given the work-from-home boom.

“We will see more people returning to public transport next year as more offices and universities open, but it will be many years before public transport overcrowding returns to previous levels. COVID, “said Dr Clifton.

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