Public transport patronage surges to post-pandemic high

Published Monday, 22 August, 2022 at 01:00 PM

Minister for Transport and Main Roads
The Honourable Mark Bailey

More Queenslanders are choosing public transport as their mode of travel with commuter figures hitting the highest level since the pandemic began.

Translink data shows 527,048 trips were made on the South East Queensland network on Tuesday 9 August, which marked the peak daily patronage figure since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.

The number of trips on 9 August surpassed the previous high of 521,343 trips completed on 10 March 2021.

Public transport patronage for the week ending 14 August 2022 is above 73 per cent compared to pre-pandemic travel across bus, ferry, light rail and heavy rail combined.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the increasing commuter figures were encouraging and reflected strong confidence in the public transport network.

"The positive uptick shows Queenslanders are choosing public transport more often," Mr Bailey said.

"Our priority now is to continue encouraging public transport use and sustaining this growth by planning a reliable, safe, and accessible Queensland passenger transport system right across the state.

“From the figures, we can see that light rail on the Gold Coast continues to be a strong performer, which customers returning to the G at higher rates than other modes of transport.

“We are continuing to invest in public transport at record amounts, to provide people with easy and convenient public transport access.”

Mr Bailey said new Cross River Rail stations would increase attraction to public transport due to their location.

“Having new CBD stations, and a station at the doorstep of the Gabba will open up the transport network to so many new people who may not have had a station near them,” he said.

“We’re not just building Cross River Rail, we’re building a new network.

“Our SEQ Rail Connect document outlines a pipeline of investment and opportunity.

“There are also more than thirty stations across the network either in the planning, procurement or delivery phase that will be fully disability compliant including stations associated with Cross River Rail, Transport Oriented Developments and Queensland Rail’s Station Accessibility Upgrade Program.”

Translink has introduced a number of initiatives to encourage customers to the network including increased cleaning, additional train and bus services, a Service Capacity Tracker and the ability to take bicycles and e-scooters on peak trains.

The Palaszczuk Governemnt also provides fare discounts, including off-peak, concession and the ‘eight and half price’ scheme delivered as part of the Fairer Fares initiative.

“Fairer Fares has saved Queenslanders more than $241 million since 2016 and we will continue to back money saving initiatives like this to make public transport more attractive,” Mr Bailey said.

During the first months of the pandemic, patronage dropped as low as 20 per cent of pre-COVID levels. Patronage fell that low again this January and February during the Omicron wave.

In stark contrast, patronage on the Ekka public holiday was around 80.6 per cent of pre-COVID levels as people took advantage of the day to get out and about across the network. The strongest patronage figure was the Gold Coast light rail where patronage topped 94.5 per cent of pre-COVID levels.

"It's been a challenging time for everyone and we recognise there has been a shift in how they travel. However, Translink is continuing 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 defence against it."

Fast Facts from Translink figures:

  1. The 527,048 trips recorded on August 9 2022 was the most since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
  2. The previous high for most trips since the pandemic was 521,343 on 10 March 2021.
  3. Passenger trips are above 73 per cent of pre pandemic levels for the week ending 14 August 2022.
  4. Patronage on the Ekka public holiday was around 80.6 per cent compared to before COVID-19. Light rail patronage hit 94.5 per cent.


MEDIA CONTACT: Courtney Thompson - 0433 585 570