Trends in journey to work mode shares in Australian cities to 2016 (second edition)

Tue 24 October, 2017

[Updated 17 November 2017 with place of enumeration data]

The ABS has now released all census data for the 2016 journey to work. This post takes a city-level view of mode share trends. It has been expanded and updated from a first edition that only looked at place of work data.

My preferred measure of mode share is by place of enumeration – ie how did you travel to work based on where you were on census night (see appendix for discussion on other measures).

I’m using Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA) geography for 2011 and 2016 and Statistical Divisions for earlier years. For Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart the GCCSAs are larger than the Statistical Divisions used for earlier years, but then those cities have also grown over time. See appendix 1 for more discussion.

Some of my data goes back to 1976 – I’ll show as much history as I have for each mode/modal combination.

Public transport mode share

Sydney continues to have the largest public transport mode share, and the largest shift of the big cities. Melbourne also saw significant positive mode shift, but Perth and particularly Brisbane had mode shift away from public transport.

There’s so much to unpack behind these trends, particularly around the changing distribution of jobs in cities that I’m going to save that lengthy discussion for another blog post.

But what about the…

Massive mode shift to “public transport” in Darwin?!?

[this section updated 26 Oct 2017]

Yes, I have triple-checked I downloaded the right data. “Public transport” mode share increased from 4.3% to 10.9%. The number of people reporting bus-only journeys went from 1648 in 2011 to 5661 in 2016, which is growth of 244%. There has also been a spike in the total number of journeys to work in 2011, 30% higher than in 2011, while population growth was 13%.

Initially I thought this might have been a data error, but I’ve since learnt that there is a large LNG gas project just outside Darwin, and up to 180 privately operated buses are being used to transport up to 4700 workers to the site. This massive commuter task is swamping the usage of public buses.

Here’s the percentage growth in selected journey types between 2011 and 2016:

Bus + car as driver grew from 74 to 866 journeys, which reflects the establishment of park and ride sites around Darwin for the special commuter buses. Bus only journeys increased from 1953 to 5744. So it looks like most workers are getting the bus from home and/or forgot to mention the car part of their journey (in previous censuses I’ve seen many people living kilometres from a train station saying they got to work by train and walking only).

So this new project has swamped organic trends, although it is quite plausible that some people have shifted from cycling/walking to local jobs to using buses to commute to the LNG project (which is outside urban Darwin). When I look at workplaces within the Darwin Significant Urban Area (2011 boundary), public transport mode share is 6.0%, in 2016, still an increase from 4.4% in 2011. More on that in a future post.


Sydney saw the fastest train mode share growth, followed by Melbourne, while Brisbane and Perth went backwards.


Darwin just overtook Sydney for top spot thanks to the LNG project. Otherwise only Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne saw growth in bus mode share. Melbourne’s figure remains very low, however it is important to keep in mind that trams provide most of the on-street inner suburban radial public transport function in Melbourne.

Train and bus

Sydney comes out on top, with a large increase in 2016 (although much of this is still concentrated around Bondi where there are high bus frequencies and no fare penalties for transfers – more on that in an upcoming post). Melbourne is seeing substantial growth (perhaps due to improvements in modal coordination), while Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane had declines in terms of mode share (Brisbane and Adelaide were also declines on raw counts, not just mode share). I’m sure some people will want to comment about degrees of modal integration in different cities.

Train and bicycle

Some cities are also trying to promote the bicycle and train combination as an efficient way to get around (they are the fastest motorised and (mostly)non-motorised surface modes because they can generally sail past congested traffic). The mode shares are still tiny however:

Sydney and Melbourne are growing but the other cities are in decline in terms of mode share.

As this modal combination is coming off an almost zero base, it’s also probably worth looking at the raw counts:

The downturns in Brisbane and Perth are not huge in raw numbers, and probably reflect the general mode shift away from public transport (which is probably more to do with changing job distributions than bicycle facilities at train stations).


I have a longer time-series of bicycle-only mode share, compared to “involving bicycle”, so two charts here:


  • Darwin lost top placing for cycling to work with a large decline in mode share (refer discussion above about the massive shift to bus).
  • Canberra took the lead with more strong growth.
  • Melbourne increased slightly between 2011 and 2016 (note: rain was forecast on census day which may have suppressed growth, more on that in a moment).
  • Hobart had a big increase in 2016, following rain in 2011.
  • Sydney remains at the bottom of the pack and declined in 2016.

Walking and cycling mode share is likely to be impacted by weather. Here’s a summary of recent census weather conditions for most cities (note: Canberra minimums were -3 in 2001, -7 in 2006, 0 in 2011 and -1 in 2016):

Perth had rain on all of the last four census days, while Adelaide had significant rain only in 2001 and 2011 (and indeed 2006 shows up with higher active transport mode share). Hobart had significant rain in 2011, which appears to have suppressed active transport mode share that year.

But perhaps equally important is the forecast weather as that could set people’s plans the night before. Here was the forecast for the 2016 census day,  from the BOM website the night before:

Note that it didn’t end up raining in Melbourne, Adelaide, or Hobart.

The census is conducted in winter – which is the best time to cycle in Darwin (dry season) and not a great time to cycle in other cities. However the icy weather in Canberra clearly hasn’t stopped it getting the highest and fastest growing cycling mode share of all cities!

Indeed here is a chart from VicRoads showing the seasonality of cycling in Melbourne at their bicycle counters:

And in case you are interested, here are the (small) mode shares of journeys involving bicycle and some other modes (other than walking):

Walking only

Canberra was the only city to have a big increase, while there were declines in Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Sydney.

The smaller cities had the highest walking share, perhaps as people are – on average – closer to their workplace, followed by Sydney – the densest city. But city size doesn’t seem to explain cycling mode shares.


The following chart shows the proportion of journeys to work made by car only (either as driver or passenger):

Sydney has the lowest car only mode share and it declined again in 2016. It was followed by Melbourne in 2016. Brisbane and Perth had large increases in car mode share in 2016 (in line with the PT decline mentioned above). Darwin also shows a big shift away from the car to public transport (although the total number of car trips still increased by 24%). Adelaide hit top spot, followed by Hobart and Perth.

Here is car as driver only:

And here is car as passenger only:

Car as passenger declined in all cities again in 2016, but was more common in the smaller cities, and least common in the bigger cities. I’m not sure why car as passenger declines paused for Perth and Sydney in 2006.

We can calculate an implied notional journey to work car occupancy by comparing car driver only and car passenger only journeys. This is not actual car occupancy, because it excludes people not travelling to work and excludes journeys that involved cars and other modes. However it does provide an indication of trends in car pooling for journeys to work.

There were further significant decreases in car commuter occupancy, in line with increasing car ownership and affordability.

Private transport

Here is a chart summing all modal combinations involving cars (driver or passenger), motorcycle/scooter, taxis, and trucks, but excluding any journeys that also include public transport.

The trends mirror what we have seen above, and are very similar to car-only travel.


Overall mode split

Here’s an overall split of journeys to work by “main mode” (click to enlarge):

Note: the 2001 data includes estimated splits of aggregated modes based on 2006 data.

I assigned a ‘main mode’ based on a hierarchy as follows:

  • Any journey involving train is counted with the main mode as train
  • Any other journey involving bus is counted with the main mode as bus
  • Any other journey involving tram and/or ferry is counted as “tram/ferry”
  • Any other journey involving car as driver, truck or motorbike/scooter is counted as “vehicle driver”
  • Any other journey involving car as passenger or taxi is counted as “vehicle passenger”
  • Any other journey involving walking or cycling only as “active”

How different are “place of work” and “place of enumeration” mode shares?

The first edition of this post reported only “place of work” data, as place of enumeration data wasn’t released until 11 November 2017. This second edition now focuses on place of enumeration – where people were on census night.

The differences are not huge, as most people who live in a city also work in that city, but there are still a number of people who leave or enter cities’ statistical boundaries to go to work. Here’s an animation showing the main mode split by place of work and enumeration so you can compare the differences (you’ll need to click to enlarge). The animation dwells longer on place of work data.

Public + active transport main mode shares are generally higher for larger cities with place of work data, and smaller for smaller cities.

Here’s a closer look at the 2016 public transport mode shares by the two measures:

See also a detailed comparison in Appendix 1 below for 2011 Melbourne data.

I’d like to acknowledge Dr John Stone for assistance with historical journey to work data.

Appendix 1 – How to measure journey to work mode share

Firstly, I exclude people who did not work, worked at home, or did not state how they worked. The first two categories generate no transport activity, and if the actual results for “not stated” were biased in any way we would have no way of knowing how.

I prefer to use “place of enumeration” data (ie where people were on census night). “Place of usual residence” data is also available, but is unfortunately contaminated by people who were away from home on census day. The other data source is “Place of work”.

Some people might prefer to measure mode shares on Urban Centres which excludes rural areas within the larger blobs that are Greater Capital City Statistical Areas and Statistical Divisions (use this ABS map page to compare boundaries). However, “place of work” data is not readily available for that geography, and this method also excludes satellite urban centres that might be detached from the main urban centre, but are very much part of the economic unit of the city.

Another option is “Significant Urban Area”, which includes more fringe areas, and some more satellite towns, and in Canberra’s case crosses the NSW border to capture Queanbeyan.

What difference does it make?

Here’s a comparison of public transport mode shares for the different methods for 2011.

If you look closely, you’ll notice:

  • The more than you remove non-urban areas, the higher your public transport mode share, which makes sense, as those non-urban areas are mostly not served by public transport.
  • Place of usual residence tends to increase public transport mode shares for smaller cities (people probably visiting larger cities) and depresses public transport mode share in larger cities (people visiting smaller cities and towns).
  • Place of work is only readily available for Greater Capital City Statistical Areas. For the bigger cities it tends to inflate PT mode share where people might be using good inter-urban public transport options, or driving to good public transport options on the edges of cities (eg trains). However it has the opposite impact in Darwin and Canberra, where driving into the city is probably easier.

But I think the main point is that for any time series trend analysis you should use the same measure if possible.

If you want to compare the two, I’ve created a Tableau Public visualisation that has a large number of mode shares by both place of work and place of enumeration.

Appendix 2 – Estimating pre-2006 mode shares from aggregated data

For 2006 onwards, ABS TableBuilder provides counts for every possible combination of up to three modes (other than walking, which is assumed to be part of every journey). For example, in Melbourne in 2006, 36 people went to work by taxi, car as driver, and car as passenger (or so they said!). Unfortunately for years before 2006 data is not readily available with a full breakdown.

The 2001 data includes only aggregated counts for the following categories:

  • train and other (excluding bus)
  • bus and other (excluding train)
  • other two modes (no train or bus)
  • train and two other modes
  • bus and two other modes (excluding train)
  • three other modes (no train or bus)

Together these accounted for 3.7% of journeys in Melbourne and 4.5% of journeys in Sydney.

However all but two of those aggregate categories definitely involve train and/or bus, so can be included in public transport mode share calculations.

Journeys in the aggregate categories “Other two modes” and “Other three modes” might involve tram and/or ferry trips (if such modes exist in a city), but we don’t know for sure.

I’ve used the complete modal data for 2006 to calculate the percentage of 2006 journeys that fit into these two categories that are by public transport. I’ve then assumed these same percentage apply in 2001 to estimate total public transport mode shares for 2001 (for want of a better method).

Here are the 2001 relevant stats for each city:

(note: totals do not add perfectly due to rounding)

The estimates add up to 0.2% to the total public transport mode shares in cities with significant modes beyond train and bus (namely ferry and tram in Sydney, tram in Melbourne, ferry in Brisbane, tram and Adelaide). This almost entirely comes from “other two modes” category while “other three modes” is tiny. For these categories, almost no journeys in Perth, Canberra and Hobart actually involved a public transport mode.

In the past I have knowingly ignored public transport journeys that might be part of these categories, which almost certainly means public transport mode share is underestimated (I suspect most other analysts have too). By including some assumed public transport journeys my estimate should be closer to the true value, which I think is better than an underestimate.

But are these reasonable estimates? Are the 2001 modal breakdowns for these categories likely to be the same as 2006? Maybe not exactly, but because we are multiplying small numbers by small numbers, the impact of slightly inaccurate estimates is unlikely to shift the total by more than 0.1%. I tested the methodology between 2006 and 2011 results (eg using 2011 full breakdown against created 2006 aggregate categories and vice versa) and the estimated total mode shares were almost always exactly the same as the perfectly calculated shares (at worst there was a difference of 0.1% when rounding to one decimal place).

In the first edition of this post I had to estimate 2016 place of work mode shares in a similar way for public and private transport, but I wasn’t confident enough to estimate mode share of journeys involving cycling.

I now have the final data and I promised to see how I went, so here’s a comparison:

If you round to one decimal place, the estimates were no different for public and private transport and out by up to 0.1% for cycling (which is relatively significant for the small cycling mode shares).

I’ve applied a similar approach to estimate several other mode share types, and these are marked on charts.


How commuters got to workplaces in Melbourne, 2006 and 2011

Sun 3 March, 2013

[Updated in July 2013 with higher resolution maps using Destination Zone data]

My earlier post about Melbourne journey to work 2011 focussed on where people live. This post focuses on where people work and what modes of transport they used to get there in 2006 and 2011. It also covers employment density and the home locations and associated mode shares for people travelling to the central city.

As per other posts, you will need to click on maps to see the detail/animation.

In this post you will see some maps at the SA2 level (approximately suburb size) and some at the destination zone level (the smallest resolution available):

  • For SA2 maps, I have mapped 2006 destination zones to (2011) SA2 areas based on the centroid of each 2006 destination zone (so not a perfect mapping – see here for a comparison map).
  • For destination zone maps, the boundaries of destination zones changed between 2006 and 2011, most commonly involving smaller destination zones in 2011, although the boundaries don’t always align. For both 2006 and 2011, I have only shown mode shares for destination zones where more than 100 people travelled with known mode(s) of transport. I don’t have destination zone level data for individual public transport (PT) modes for 2011.

See also an earliersimilar postcovering 2006 journey to work data for Melbourne, and a similar post covering journeys to workplaces in Brisbane.

Employment density

Firstly, what does the employment density of Melbourne look like?

Click on the following map to see an animation flipping between 2006 and 2011:

DZ employment density

While it looks like a lot of jobs have disappeared from Melbourne between 2006 and 2011, the difference in amount of shaded area is because 2011 has smaller destination zones than 2006. The destination zones from 2006 have been split into smaller zones, and often only one of those zones has significant employment.

You can see Melbourne’s second biggest jobs cluster – the Monash precinct – in the south-eastern suburbs near Clayton.

Here’s another look at the employment distribution (for people with a known travel destination) as well as people in the labour force:

jobs and labour force by distance from GPO

Note that this is a measure of employment in rings around Melbourne, and the outer rings have significantly more land area than the inner rings.

Between 2006 and 2011, significant employment growth occurred in the inner city, and at around 18 km from the CBD. That 18 km ring happens to include the significant employment precincts at Southland/Cheltenham, Monash, Nunawading, Burwood East, Greensborough, and Campbellfield.

While around 30% of the labour force did not travel to a known work location on census day, there’s still an imbalance between jobs and workers by distance from the city (many distance rings have twice as many people in the labour force and jobs), which of course leads to a lot of generally radial commuter travel.

Mode share by workplace location

So what are mode share like for different places of employment across Melbourne?

Public transport

Firstly a map showing mode share for destination zones (click to zoom in and animate):

PT mode share Melbourne

Please try not to be too distracted by the changing red and white areas on the fringe of Melbourne. The white areas are destination zones with less than 100 employees who travelled on census day. Because the destination zones were re-cut between 2006 and 2011, the location of zones with less than 100 employees changed significantly.

The inner city area shows a lot of change, so here is a zoomed-in animated map at destination zone level, with public transport mode share numbers overlaid (sorry the CBD is a bit hard to read as the destination zones were almost all halved in size in 2011).

PT mode share Melbourne inner

To perhaps enable a fairer comparison, the following animated map shows public transport mode share at SA2 level (2006 being a mapping of destination zones to SA2s):

Melb dest public

Public transport mode share was highest in the CBD, then for areas around the CBD and stretching a little more to the inner east. Box Hill stands out as a suburban location with a relatively high mode share (13% in 2011).

Here is a map that shows the mode shift to public transport for each SA2 (bearing in mind that there isn’t a perfect mapping from 2006 destination zones to 2011 SA2s):

Melb dest PT mode shift 06 to 11

The biggest mode shifts towards public transport were:

Docklands 10.5%
South Yarra – East 6.5%
South Yarra – West 6.0%
Fitzroy 5.8%
Richmond 4.8%
Collingwood 4.7%
Albert Park 4.4%
Watsonia 4.4%
North Melbourne 4.3%
Caulfield – North 4.3%
Mount Evelyn 4.1%
Springvale South 4.1%
Parkville 3.8%
Camberwell 3.8%
Prahran – Windsor 3.8%
Hawthorn 3.6%
Kensington 3.6%
Abbotsford 3.6%
Carnegie 3.6%
South Melbourne 3.3%

Most of the above are in the inner city, but there are exceptions of Watsonia, Mount Evelyn and Springvale South (all off a very small base in 2006).

Some interesting rises in the suburbs include:

  • Doncaster 5.5% to 8.3%, probably related to the introduction of several SmartBus services
  • Frankston North 2.6% to 5.0%, again probably influenced by the introduction of SmartBus services
  • Forest Hill 5.2% to 7.8% (not sure why)
  • Mill Park North 1.7% to 4.2% (note the South Morang rail extension was not open in 2011, but SmartBus services had been introduced by the 2011 census)
  • Box Hill 10.2% to 12.7%, possibly related to upgraded SmartBus services
  • Noble Park 3.0% to 5.4% (not sure why)

Some interesting declines include:

  • Montrose – there are boundary differences between 2006 and 2011 with many more jobs counted in 2011. It would appear there might be an employer around the western end of York Road with higher PT mode share.
  • Cairnlea 6.6% to 2.4% (almost certainly because Victoria University St Albans Campus is mapped to this SA2 in 2006 but not in 2011)
  • Carlton North – Princes Hill 13.1% to 10.4% (which also had an increase in walking and cycling)
  • Port Melbourne 14.7% to 12.6% (not sure why, perhaps more people walked to work from the increasingly dense local residential area)

As an aside, here are 2011 public transport mode shares for journeys to work at major Australian airports (where there is an “Airport” named SA2):

  • Sydney 13.9%
  • Melbourne 3.8% (up from 2.5% in 2006)
  • Brisbane 3.1%
  • Adelaide 2.6%
  • Perth 1.7%
  • Darwin 1.7%


Melb dest train

Train mode share was highest in the CBD and surrounding inner city areas. Notably, mode shares were relatively higher in the inner east and south-east (particularly Caulfield, Camberwell and Hawthorn) compared to other inner areas.

Here is the mode shift to trains between 2006 and 2011:

Melb dest train shift

The biggest rises were in Docklands (up 9.2%), South Yarra (up 5.6%) and then a few other inner suburban destinations.

In 2011, 47% of journeys to work in Greater Melbourne involving train were to the Melbourne CBD. This rises to 59% when adding Southbank and Docklands.


Unfortunately I do not have 2006 data for “any journey involving tram” below the SLA level, so here is the 2011 picture at SA2 level, with the tram network shown as green lines:

Melb dest tram 2011

I must say I was surprised by the CBD figure of only 14.9% (and I did double-check the data).

Tram mode share was highest in the SA2s of Albert Park and South Yarra West (which straddle the St Kilda Road office precinct which has very high tram frequencies). Other work destinations with higher tram mode shares included Parkville, Carlton, Fitzroy and South Melbourne.

Perhaps there was some under-reporting of tram journeys as a “secondary” mode in people’s journey to work? In Parkville (which includes the main University of Melbourne campus, the hospitals precinct and Royal Park), there were more people reporting only train (934) than train+tram (772) and train+bus (275). I would expect most of those jobs to be remote from Royal Park station, and the southern section of the SA2 is at least a 1 km walk from Melbourne Central train station. Another example is South Melbourne – all of which is more than 1.2 km from a train station, yet 1240 people reported only train in their journey to work, while 894 reported train+tram. While of course some people will walk longer distances from train stations to work, the numbers seem a little high to me.

37% of journeys to work in Greater Melbourne involving tram were to a destination in the Melbourne CBD. If you add in Southbank, Docklands, Parkville and South Melbourne the share goes to 56%.


Again, I do not have comparable data for 2006, so here is a 2011 map:

Melb dest bus 2011

Bus mode share was highest in Malvern East (which includes Chadstone Shopping Centre), followed by Doncaster, Maribyrnong (which includes Highpoint Shopping Centre), Carlton and the Melbourne CBD. Mount Evelyn is curiously high at 5.8%, with 45 people travelling by bus to workplaces there.

Only 21% (9905) of journeys to Greater Melbourne workplaces involving bus were to the CBD, with the next highest SA2 counts in Docklands (1175), Clayton (1160), Dandenong (1157), Southbank (1071) and Parkville (1046). This would suggest that growth in CBD employment is unlikely to be one of the major factors in bus patronage growth in Melbourne (unlike train and tram).


Due to the nature of the data I have for 2006, this analysis excludes journeys also involving public transport or trucks (yes, there were 39 people who said they travelled to work by truck and bicycle in Australia in 2011!). This is another animated map, so click to enlarge and see the changes.

Melb dest bicycle

Here’s an animated close up of the inner city area for destination zones (with a different scale):

bicycle mode share DZ Melbourne inner

Cycling to work boomed in inner Melbourne between 2006 and 2011, particularly to workplaces in the inner north. Princess Hill had the highest bike share of 14% in 2011 (possibly dominated by Princess Hill Secondary College employees), followed by a pocket of south-west Carlton that jumped from around 5% to 13%. Apart from the inner north, there were notable increases in Richmond, Balaclava, Yarraville and Southbank

Here’s a view of the mode shift to bicycle at SA2 level:

Melb dest bicycle shift

Relatively small mode shifts away from bicycle were observed in the outer eastern suburbs and around Aspendale to Carrum.

I should point out that the census is conducted in winter (August), and warmer weather bicycle mode shares of journeys to work are likely to be higher.

Variations in daily weather can also cause differences in behaviour between censuses, that don’t actually reflect longer term trends. On census day in 2006, Melbourne had a temperature range of 5.3 – 17.9 degrees and no reported rain. On census day in 2011 the temperature ranged from 7 to 12.6, and there was 0.2mm of rain reported. So 2011 weather was perhaps a little less favourable for cycling (and walking). I’m not sure what time of day that rain fell in 2011.

Other time series data on cycling in Melbourne is published by VicRoads.

Walking (only)

Here’s a look walk-only mode shares by destination zones:

Walk only mode share Melbourne

Click to see the animation, and again, please try not to be distracted by the changes in white areas.

Here’s walking mode share by SA2 2006 v 2011 (but with a different colour scale):

Melb dest walk only

Walking mode share is a mixed bag across the city. High walking mode shares are evident in Parkville, Carlton North/Princes Hill, around St Kilda, the Simpson Army Barracks (in Yallambie), but also some rural areas. In the Koo Wee Rup SA2, 8.7% of employees walked to work, 41% of whom were in the “Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing” industry.

The lowest walking-only mode shares were at the airports (Melbourne, Essendon and Moorabbin), some industrial areas and generally in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

Here is mode shift to walking:

Melb dest walk only shift

Mode shift to walking was more common in the northern suburbs and some outer eastern suburbs, but not so much in the inner city. Mode shift away from walking only to work was observed in many outer eastern and north-eastern suburbs. Again, daily weather variations might explain some of the changes that are not really trends.

Note: the neighbouring SA2s of Wheelers Hill and Glen Waverley East each showed mode shifts in opposite directions. This is almost certainly to do with the Police Academy being mapped into a different SA2 in 2006 due to the imperfect mapping between 2006 destination zones and 2011 SA2s.

Sustainable transport

I’ve defined sustainable transport here as any journey involving public transport, plus any journey that only involved walking and/or cycling.

Melb dest sustainable

Sustainable transport mode share was highest in the CBD and immediate surrounding areas. Sustainable transport was relatively higher for workplaces in the inner north, east and south-east compared to the inner west.

Melb dest sustainable shift

Mode shift to sustainable transport was most prevalent in the inner north and inner south.

Some interesting suburban mode shifts to sustainable transport include:

  • Upwey – Tecoma (mainly walking)
  • Dandenong North (mostly a mix of walking and public transport)
  • Gladstone Park – Westmeadows 3.1% (most of which was public transport mode shift, possibly relating to the introduction of SmartBus services),
  • Altona Meadows (mostly public transport, probably relating to the City West waste purification plant being mapped into this SA2 only in 2006)
  • Watsonia (possibly a result of destination zone to SA2 mapping issues)

Commuting to the central city, 2011

The central city is an important destination as it has the highest employment density and is where public transport is best-placed to compete against the car. For analysis in this section I am using the combination of the Melbourne CBD, Southbank, Docklands, Carlton, North Melbourne and East Melbourne SA2s as my definition of the “central city” (which is different to other posts on this blog – I am deliberately choosing a larger area to get a better sense of origins and mode shares).

Here’s a map showing the proportion (%) of commuters who had a destination of central Melbourne in 2011 (by place of usual residence at SA1 geography):

Melb 2011 share to central city v2

The prevalence of the CBD as a work destination is almost directly proportional to the distance people live from the CBD, although rates are relatively higher around train lines.

Notable outliers include:

  • Point Cook, Tarneit, Caroline Springs in the western suburbs with a higher central city share, possibly reflecting a workers-to-jobs imbalance in the outer western suburbs, particularly for white-collar workers (I might explore that more in a future post)
  • East Doncaster, which has a relatively high central city share, possibly as a result of frequent express bus services to the city
  • A pocket of St Kilda East and Caulfield North between the Sandringham and Caulfield rail lines that has a low share despite being relatively close to the city (not sure why that might be)

The next map shows the share of central city commuters who used public transport in their journey to work (by home location). I’ve only shaded SA1s with 20 or more central city commuters (which I admit is quite small for calculating mode shares).

Note: I have not filtered SA1s by density on the following maps (unlike others), so some low density SA1s are included.

Melb 2011 PT share to central city

Here’s a similar map showing mode shares at SA2 level (SA2s with less than 100 central city workers not shown), which overcomes the problem of low densities of central city workers in the outer suburbs:

Melb 2011 PT share to central SA2

Public transport mode share was particularly high for those in middle to outer suburbs around the rail lines, although less so along the Sandringham, Sydenham and Werribee lines.

It was lowest around:

  • the city centre itself (more on that in a moment)
  • Western Kew in the inner east (a relatively wealthy area)
  • Sanctuary Lakes in the south-western suburbs (largely remote from public transport in 2011)
  • Pockets of Caroline Springs
  • Areas of Templestowe, Donvale, Research and North Warrandyte in the east-north-eastern suburbs (but not central Doncaster where there is a high frequency freeway bus service to the CBD)
  • Areas around Keilor East and Avondale Heights (like Kew, close to the CBD but remote from train lines)
  • Greenvale (a relatively wealthy area)
  • Brighton and Toorak (very wealthy areas)

Here’s the share of people who only used private motorised transport to commute to the CBD (as SA1 level):

Melb 2011 Private share to central city

This map is largely the inverse of the previous SA1 map, except for areas near the inner city, suggesting active transport is being used by residents of the central city to get to work in the central city, as you might expect.

Finally, here is a map showing the density of people who work in the central city:

Melb 2011 density of central city workers

This map effectively combines population density with the proportion of workers travelling to the central city. The density falls away with distance from the city (quite markedly south of Elwood), but there are outliers in pockets of Carnegie, Point Cook, East Doncaster, Deer Park, Mitcham, Bundoora, and Heatherton (not all of which are connected to the city by high quality public transport).

A similar analysis could be conducted to other employment centres, although numbers per SA1 will be much smaller, and it would be time-consuming.

If you spot any other interesting changes and/or have explanations for them, I would welcome comments.

The journey to work and the city centre (Australian cities 2001-2011)

Sat 16 February, 2013

The city centre is a traditional market for public transport, and certainly where public transport mode shares are the highest. Recent strong growth in city centre employment is likely to be the cause of public transport patronage growth in some cities. So I thought it would be interesting to look at public transport mode shares and mode shifts to workplaces within and outside Australian city centres.

Definition of city centres

First up, its important to understand what data I’m analysing. In 2011 the ABS restructured their geography for census and other data. While this change brings many benefits, it creates some challenges when comparing data from previous years. In the analysis I generally compare Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) with Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) geography, but sometimes I’m just comparing Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Here are the areas I have used as the “central city” for each of the five large Australian cities:


The “Sydney – Haymarket – The Rocks” SA2 which is very similar (but not entirely identical) to the “Sydney (C) – inner” SLA. There are only minor variations on the fringe of this area. On the following maps, the dark green area is included in all years, the red areas are only included in 2011, and the blue areas are only included in 2001 and 2006.


The “Melbourne” SA2 and the “Melbourne (C) – Inner” SLA, the former being larger as it includes a triangle of land between Peel/William Street, Victoria Street and Latrobe Street. City of Melbourne CLUE data from 2010 suggests 7.6% of jobs in the SA2 are in this triangle (and not included in the SLA). A previous post found that 2006 journey to work public transport mode shares in this triangle were around 56-61% whereas most of the CBD was around 60-70%. So this study is likely to understate increases in public transport mode share for central Melbourne.


As Southbank and Docklands include significant employment density, I have created a second definition of central Melbourne that includes these areas, and labelled it “Melbourne+”. Note this area also gains the triangle north of the CBD for 2011 due to boundary changes. While arguably I should also include East Melbourne, data is not available at that resolution for 2001 and 2006, which would mean I would need to expand to include all of the City of Melbourne which is starting to be a lot more than the central city core.

The following map shows the Melbourne and Melbourne+ areas: the green area is included for all years, the red area is only included in 2011, and the yellow area is Southbank/Docklands, that is included in all years for Melbourne+ only.


The “Brisbane City” SA2, which precisely covers the “City – inner” and “City – remainder” SLAs combined. In 2006, “City – inner” accounted for 62% of the entire SA2 employment population, but the public transport mode share of the overall combined area was only about 1% lower than “City – inner”.

This Brisbane SA2 area is shown in green on the following map (the area in yellow represents Fortitude Valley and South Brisbane, referred to later in this post).


The City of Adelaide LGA (which includes North Adelaide). The new SA2 geography splits central Adelaide and North Adelaide, but historical data is not available at smaller resolution than the entire LGA. This area is shown in green in the following map:


The City of Perth LGA. While there are smaller SLAs and SA2s, there is weak correspondence between the old and new geographies so I had to use local government boundaries instead. This area is shown in green on the following map:

As these central city areas are not consistently defined, comparisons between cities need to be made with caution. That said, the high employment density core of the city is likely to dominate any geography that includes the CBD. For example, of the 94,764 people who travelled to the City of Adelaide, only 7501 travelled to North Adelaide, with the remainder travelling to central Adelaide. Thus, central Adelaide is likely to dominate the results for the City of Adelaide area.

Mode shares for journeys to work in city centres

Previous posts have looked at public transport mode share overall for cities, and journey to work by work location for some cities (Brisbane 2006 and 2011, Sydney 2006Melbourne 2006 with more to come). Here’s a look at the mode split for city centre areas (as defined above).

Mode split to city centres v2


  • as discussed above the central areas for Melbourne and Melbourne+ in 2011 are larger that for in 2001 and 2006
  • Adelaide “2011i” refers to central Adelaide excluding North Adelaide.

The chart shows public and active transport mode share increasing in all cities, with the exception of Sydney where there was an increase in private transport use between 2001 and 2006. Public transport dominates in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with Perth now roughly evenly split between private and public transport, and private transport still being in the majority in central Adelaide. Active transport (walk/cycle) has posted significant gains in all city centres, with Melbourne having the highest share (9.0% in 2011) followed by Sydney (7.9%) and Brisbane (7.8%), with Perth the lowest (6.4%).

mode shift to PT

The above chart shows central Perth has having the strongest mode shift to public transport (in no small part due to the opening of the Mandurah rail line in late 2007), followed by Brisbane, and (perhaps surprisingly) then Melbourne (although Melbourne’s poorer performance may be related to the change in geographic boundaries as discussed above). Adelaide and Sydney were the laggards of public transport mode shift between 2006 and 2011.

mode shift from Private

Again, Perth is the stand-out in mode shift away from private transport in 2011.

Here is another look on the above mode split data with a little more detail, assigning each journey a “main mode” (precedence given to train, bus, any other public transport, vehicle driver, vehicle passengers, bicycle, in that order).

Mode split to city centres detailed

This chart shows trains accounting for around half of all journeys to work in central Sydney and Melbourne and buses being a significant mode in all cities except Melbourne where trams have a significant share. Notably Melbourne’s tram mode share is smaller than all the other cities’ bus mode shares. I note that Sydney is now moving to light rail to try to alleviate CBD bus congestion. Trains delivered less than 10% of central Adelaide commuters to work.

Vehicle passenger journeys are much more common in Adelaide (8.2%) and least common in Sydney, but are in decline in all cities, suggesting a move away from car pooling.

Central Melbourne is the leader in cycling with 3.3% of journeys primarily by bicycle, with Sydney the lowest bicycle share (1.4%).

Number of car journeys to city centres

The following chart shows the absolute change in the number of people whose primary method of journey to work was vehicle driver.

change in vehicle drivers to city centres

*Caution should be applied for Melbourne, as the 2011 geographic area included additional area that in 2006 (and that areas had a lower public transport mode share in 2006).

The stand-out result is Melbourne+, which indicates a lot more vehicle driver commuter trips generated as Docklands and Southbank employment centres expand. Public transport’s mode share for Southbank and Docklands combined increased from 39.4% in 2006 to 46.8% in 2011, but this was not enough to stop an increase in the overall number of vehicle driver trips. My understanding is that parking costs are generally cheaper in Southbank and Docklands compared to the CBD core.

There was a decline in city centre commuter car parking requirements in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth between 2006 and 2011, while central Adelaide had a substantial increase in vehicle driver commuters (despite some mode shift to public transport), no doubt putting pressure on traffic congestion.

Share of jobs in city centres

Are jobs within metropolitan areas concentrating within city centres? The following chart shows the percentage of metropolitan jobs located within the city centre areas defined above, as well as a wider city centre definition for Brisbane.

city centre share of jobs

Comparing cities is dangerous as there is not a consistent definition of city centre. What the data does show is that central Perth is reducing its share of metropolitan jobs, central Adelaide’s share seems relatively static, central Sydney’s share is growing, and for Melbourne and Brisbane, the central city share is growing but only if you also include nearby employment-focussed areas (Southbank and Docklands for Melbourne, South Brisbane and Fortitude Valley for Brisbane).

In the above analysis I have used my own definitions for metropolitan areas, as ABS have changed from using Statistical Divisions to sometimes larger Greater Capital City Statistical Areas for metropolitan areas. See the appendix at the end of this post for how I have defined metropolitan regions.

Comparing journeys to work inside and outside city centres

Here is a chart comparing 2011 public transport mode shares for journeys to work inside city centres, outside city centres, and for each city overall:

PT mode share in out of city centre

The differences are very stark, but as you might expect as it is generally easier to drive and cheaper to park at workplaces outside the city centre (plus public transport service quality is often lower). Note that many city fringe areas are included in the “outside city centre” figures, and public transport mode shares are generally higher in these areas, and lower further out. You can see the mode share for trips to workplaces outside “Melbourne+” (Melbourne + Southbank + Docklands) is only 9%.

Here’s the trend for public transport mode share to destinations outside city centres, showing increases between 2006 and 2011 for all cities except Adelaide.

PT mode share to outside city centre

The following chart shows that mode shifts to public transport have been much higher in central city areas for Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, but not Sydney (low mode shift to both city centre and elsewhere) and Melbourne. Mode shift to public transport outside the “Melbourne+” city centre was just over 1%.

mode shift to PT by in out city centre

Growth in public transport for journeys to work versus all purposes

The following chart compares the growth in the absolute number of people choosing public transport to get to work (between census 2006 and 2011), versus overall growth in public transport patronage (comparing financial years 2010-11 to 2005-06).

JTW versus overall PT growth v2

Note: For Brisbane, the overall patronage growth figure refers to all of South East Queensland (SEQ).

In all cities except Melbourne, the number of public transport journeys to work increased faster than overall patronage, suggesting growth in public transport use for other trip purposes was weaker.

Do city centres dominate journeys to work by public transport?

We think of city centres as the main workplace location where people would use public transport to get to work. But is this accurate?

central city share of PT JTW

The answer is yes in the smaller cities, no in Sydney, and in Melbourne it depends on whether you include Southbank and Docklands.


We have seen that:

  • Public transport is the dominant mode of journeys to work in city centres in the larger cities, but a minority mode in central Adelaide
  • Perth has shown the greatest shift to public transport for travel to the central city
  • Melbourne has shown the greatest shift to public transport for journeys to work overall
  • Melbourne has the highest active transport (and bicycle-only) mode share for journeys to city centres
  • In Brisbane, Perth and probably the Melbourne CBD, there was a net decline in private vehicles being driven to city centres for work between 2001 and 2011
  • Public transport’s share of journeys to workplaces outside city centres is much lower in all cities
  • Mode shift to public transport for journeys to work was higher for city centres except Sydney and Melbourne
  • Growth in public transport use for journeys to work was higher than overall public transport patronage growth in all cities except Melbourne
  • The central city share of all metropolitan jobs is increasing in Sydney, Melbourne (when Southbank and Docklands are included), and to a lessor extent Adelaide. Central Perth and Brisbane are declining in their share of metropolitan jobs.
  • Most public transport journeys to work in the smaller cities are to the city centre, but this is not the case for Sydney and Melbourne (without Southbank and Docklands)

Appendix: Common definitions of city metropolitan regions 2001-2011

The change in ABS geography makes it difficult to have a fair time series estimate of the total number of jobs in each metropolitan area. To try for maximum consistency across the change, I have calculated the number of jobs in each city as follows:

Melbourne: Melbourne Statistical Division, plus Shire of Yarra Ranges – Part B (ie includes all of the Shire of Yarra Ranges)

Perth: Perth Statistical Division plus the City of Mandurah (which was incorporated into the Greater Perth definition in 2011)

Brisbane: The Greater Brisbane Capital City Geographic Area, which for 2006 was approximated by the Brisbane Statistical Division plus the SLAs of Beaudesert Part C, Beenleigh, Bethania-Waterford, Boonah, Eagleby, Edens Landing-Holmview, Esk, Kilcoy, Laidley, Mt Warren Park and Wolfdene-Bahrs Scrub.

Sydney: there are very few differences between the Sydney Statistical Division and Greater Sydney, so I assumed equivalence.

Adelaide: All LGAs in the Adelaide Statistical Division, including all parts of the Adelaide Hills Council.

Spatial changes in Sydney journey to work 2006-2011

Sun 25 November, 2012

How have mode shares of journeys to work from different home locations in Sydney changed between 2006 and 2011? What has the impact been of the new T-Ways and the Epping-Chatswood railway?

In my recent post on city level mode share changes we saw that Sydney had a 2.1% mode shift to public transport between 2006 and 2011. This post will uncover which areas shifted the most. For more analysis of patterns in the 2006 journey to work, see an earlier post.

The following animations show various mode shares for journeys to work from Census Collection Districts for 2006 and Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1) for 2011, with a minimum density of 3 workers travelled per hectare. These are the smallest geographies available for each census. All the data is by place of usual residence. I’ve animated each image to alternate between 2006 and 2011, so you can gaze at them and spot the changes. You’ll need to click on them to enlarge and see the animation.

Public transport

A shift to public transport is particularly evident in the north-western suburbs between Blacktown, Castle Hill and Epping. This is like to be a result of the new T-Ways (busways) between Parramatta, Blacktown and Rouse Hill, and express bus services from the area to the city along bus lanes on the M2 motorway.

There is also some evidence of mode shift along the Cronulla rail line.

Many new patches of green appear in the 2011 map which were blank in the 2006 map. I’m not sure if these are a result of the changed ABS geography (CD to SA1), or new transit orientated developments (I suspect mostly the former).

Sustainable transport (only)

This map excludes those who used private transport to reach public transport.

As well as the above public transport shifts, shifts to sustainable transport are evident around Turramurra and Forestville in the northern suburbs.


Areas with a noticeable shift to train include Hornsby, Quakers Hill and Epping.

There is little change evident around the new Epping-Chatswood rail line, other than for a small residential pocket near Macquarie University station. Most of the stations on the new line are surrounded by non-residential land uses and show up as white. There has been quite a substantial impact on the public transport share of journeys to workplaces along the new line, which you’ll see in an upcoming post.


A shift to bus is most evident in the region between Parramatta and Castle Hill (as mentioned above).


(ferry wharves are shown as blue dots)

Shifts to ferry are most evident around Manly, Balmain, and Watsons Bay (which is a little odd as it does not have peak period services).

Train and bus

43,815 people in Greater Sydney travelled to work by train and bus (and no other modes except walking) in 2011, up from 34,377 in 2006.

Journeys involving train and bus remain most heavily concentrated around Bondi Beach, where special cheap integrated train/bus link tickets are available. Areas with some shift to train and bus travel include Epping, south of Blacktown, Bossley and St Johns Park (served by the Liverpool-Parramatta T-way), and North Parramatta.

Multiple public transport modes

Here is a summary over the Greater Sydney area of journeys using single and multiple public transport modes (using place of enumeration data and thus losing journeys with ferry + non PT modes):

Sydney’s public transport mode share went backwards between 2001 and 2006, particularly for multi-modal public transport trips. There was a strong shift towards public transport between 2006 and 2011, with roughly equal growth in single mode and multi-mode public transport journeys. The data doesn’t tell us whether this represents a shift from single mode to multi-modal journeys (following the change to the fare system in April 2010).

Mode shift to public transport overall

Here’s a map showing the overall mode share to public transport in Statistical Local Areas (SLAs), the smallest geography where data is available for both 2006 and 2011 (you’ll need to click to enlarge).

The biggest mode shifts are in different locations when aggregated at the SLA level. The biggest shifts were in Hornsby south, Concord, Manly, Parramatta north west and Baulkham Hills. I suspect the large mode shift in Hornsby south is a result of the new train line connecting this area to the major employment areas around Macquarie Park.

Campbelltown south was the only SLA to record a mode shift away from public transport.

Walking only

I cannot spot any significant shifts between 2006 and 2011.


There were quite noticeable shifts to cycling in the inner south and around Manly. The total number of people cycling as part of their journey to workplaces in Sydney went from 12,128 in 2006 to 17,838 in 2011.

Here is an enlargement of the inner suburban areas:


Cycling’s mode share peaked at 21% in a pocket of Redfern between Telopea Street and Phillip Street, closely followed by a pocket of Dulwich Hill around Kintore Street at 20%.

I’m sure other people will find more patterns in these maps – please comment on any interesting finds.

How commuters got to workplaces in Brisbane, 2006 and 2011

Sat 17 November, 2012

My last post about Brisbane journey to work focussed on where people live. This post focuses on where people work and what modes of transport they use to get there. It covers employment density, mode shares by work locations, and mode shares for people travelling to the CBD.

ABS data about mode shares at work place locations is available for Statistical Local Areas (SLA) in 2006, and for Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) geography in 2011. These are the smallest available areas in each year, and unfortunately SLA level data was not available at the time of posting for 2011 (to enable a direct comparison on the same areas).

Fortunately for Brisbane, there is a lot of similarity between the two sets of boundaries (some SLAs split, some combined, some restructured).

The following maps alternate between 2006 and 2011 using the slightly different boundaries. You will need to click on them to enlarge and see the animation.

Caution is needed when making inferences when the geographies change as different areas will have different numbers of employees. For example: If two SLAs with 2% and 10% mode shares (in 2006) were combined into a new (2011) SA2 area with 11% mode share (in 2011), it doesn’t mean that mode share actually changed from 2% to 11% in the first of the SLAs. It may be that many more people were employed in the SLA with 10% mode share and actually very little changed overall.

Employment density

Firstly, what does the employment density of Brisbane look like? If I had the travel zone data available (as per Sydney), I’d be able to draw a much higher resolution picture, but for now I will have to suffice with SLA/SA2 employment density:

A lot of the differences you can see between 2006 and 2011 are to do with the change in boundaries, not necessarily changes on the ground. For example, there are many more SA2s than SLAs in the Ipswich area, which has meant the 2011 data shows a slightly dense area in the centre of Ipswich.

Some places where the SLA and SA2s are the same and a change in employment density is evident include reductions in New Farm, West End, Mitchelton, Wynnum, and Chermside West, and an increase in Enoggara.

Mode share by workplace location

I’ve zoomed in on the inner parts of Brisbane so you can see the inner city details for mode shares (apologies for the lack of place names – I figured the numbers showing the mode shares might be more interesting).

First up, public transport mode share:

Public transport mode share was highest in the CBD, then for areas around the CBD and stretching to a little more to the inner south-west. Curiously, public transport mode share was relatively high in suburban Carindale (the patch of yellow turned green in the “middle” eastern suburbs) and Nundah in the middle northern suburbs.

Significant rises in PT mode share were evident in the following places:

  • Fairfield/Dutton Park – which went from 7%/9% to 23%, which is probably related to the Boggo Road busway and green bridge and route 196 BUZ route.
  • Chelmer (6% to 12%) – perhaps related to train frequency upgrades on the line to Darra
  • Teneriffe (10% to 20%) – although it was absorbed into Newstead-Bowen Hills in 2011 the two SLAs combined into one SA2 had a similar number of employees in 2006. In 2011 Teneriffe was served by a new CityCat ferry terminal, and bus services were upgraded (including the CityGlider bus).
  • Kelvin Road – Herston, which went from 14%/16% to 21% (including the growing Kelvin Grove Urban Village and bolstered by the northern busway)

Next is active transport:

There was very little change in active transport mode share by destination. The exceptions were St Lucia (including University of Queensland) which increased from 13% to 16%, and Highgate Hill which went from 9% to 13%. These areas are connected by the new green bridge (buses, walkers and cyclists only) which would have made it easier to reach these places by active transport.

Enoggera records 13% in both 2006 and 2011, which is explained by the existence of a major army barracks there. I’m not sure why the Anstead area had a 15% mode share in 2006 (it was blended out in 2011 with the change of geography).

Finally, here is sustainable transport mode share (public transport + active only transport):

Suburban destinations with high sustainable transport mode share include:

  • Robertson (which includes Griffith University went from 13% to 17%)
  • Carindale (eastern suburbs, 14% to 17%)
  • Taigum/Fitzgibbon (north suburbs, steady 12%)
  • Mount Ommaney (south-western suburbs, 13% in 2006 but unclear in 2011 due to larger SA2)

The significant rises are covered by the discussion above.

Commuting to the CBD

The Central Business District (CBD) is an important destination as it has the highest employment density, and public transport is probably best placed to compete against the car. For this analysis I am defining the “CBD” as the Brisbane City SA2, which is bounded by Hale Street in the west, Wickham Terrace in the north, Boundary Street in the north-east, and the Brisbane River (here is a map). That’s probably bigger than what you might call the core CBD, but unfortunately I cannot obtain 2011 data at a smaller geography.

Brisbane’s CBD accounted for 15.5% of Greater Brisbane journey to work destinations in 2011, and 14.1% of Brisbane Statistical Division destinations in 2006 (Greater Brisbane is slightly larger than the Brisbane Statistical Division). There were 9.5% more journey to work destinations in the CBD in 2011 compared to 2006.

Here’s a map showing the proportion of commuters who had a destination of the Brisbane CBD in 2011 (by home location at SA1 geography):

The prevalence of the CBD as a work destination is almost directly proportional to the distance people live from the CBD, with the notable exception of Springfield in the southern suburbs.

The next map shows the portion of CBD commuters who used public transport in their journey to work (by home location). I’ve only shaded SA1s with 20 or more CBD commuters, which is quite small for calculating mode shares.

Note: I have not filtered SA1s by density on these maps (unlike others), so some low density SA1s to the south-west of the CBD are included in the following maps.

Public transport mode share was particularly high for those further from the CBD (where such a long drive would probably not be fun or cheap). It was lowest around the CBD itself (presumably the locals just walked to work), a few scattered suburban locations, and around the wealthy and low density Pullenvale area to the south-west (served only infrequently by public transport but not that far from the CBD).

Here’s the share of people who only used private motorised transport to commute to the CBD:

Pockets of high private motorised transport mode share include:

  • Hamilton/Albion
  • Bardon
  • Kenmore
  • Fig Tree Pocket
  • Capalaba
  • Gumdale
  • Tingalpa
  • Yeronga
  • Indooroopilly
  • Pullenvale

I understand that many of these are relatively wealthy areas.

Mode shift in journeys to the CBD

How have mode shares changed for journeys to work in the CBD?

Public and active transport increased their mode shares considerably over the 10 years. In fact, the Brisbane CBD had the second highest mode shift to public transport (in percentage terms) of major Australian CBDs (behind Perth, more on that in a future post).

The absolute number of car driver trips fell from 26,397 in 2001 to 23,244 in 2011, while the number of public transport trips shot up from 47,208 in 2001 to 65,570 in 2011 – a 39% increase (a very similar increase to Melbourne and Adelaide). In the same time, South East Queensland public transport patronage grew by 59%.

The vast majority of people who used public transport to commute to the CBD only used one mode of public transport. However, the percentage of people using multiple public transport modes rose from 2.7% in 2001 to 2.9% in 2006 and 3.6% in 2011, suggesting integrated ticketing may be influencing public transport travel behaviour. That said, Brisbane’s CBD still had the lowest rate of multiple public transport mode journeys to work of the CBDs of Australia’s five biggest cities (more on that soon).


I’d like to acknowledge Jane Hornibrook for assistance with this post.

Spatial changes in Brisbane journey to work 2006-2011

Sun 4 November, 2012

How have mode shares of journeys to work from different home locations changed in Brisbane? What impact have recent bus service level improvements had?

In my post on city level mode share changes we saw that Brisbane had a 1.2% mode shift to public transport between 2006 and 2011. This post will uncover which areas shifted the most.

The following animations show various mode shares for journeys to work from census collection districts for 2006 and Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1) for 2011. These are the smallest geographies available for each census. All the data is by place of usual residence.

I’ve animated each image to alternate between 2006 and 2011, so you can gaze at them and spot the changes. You’ll need to click on them to enlarge and see the animation.

Public transport

You can mode shift in the inner suburbs, The Gap, the Albany Creek area, around Shorncliffe, the middle southern suburbs (between Yeerongpilly and Woodridge), and the strip towards Shailer Park. Much less mode shift is evident in the outer suburbs, particularly Ipswitch, Victoria Point, Cleveland, and Redcliffe. The Springfield growth area shows higher mode shares than average for urban fringe areas without heavy rail.

Sustainable transport (only)

This map excludes those who used private transport to reach public transport. In most outer suburbs of Brisbane, it seems the vast majority of people are using private motorised transport as part of their journey to work, including to get to train or busway stations.


Significant mode shift can be seen along the Ferny Grove line, the Shorncliffe line, and the line towards Darra. I can see little mode shift on other lines.

There was modest mode shift towards train in the Inala area (near the Richlands rail line that opened in early 2011). Perhaps it will take some time for commuting patterns to change to take advantage of the rail line?

Note that a significant share of people in Springfield used trains. They will be getting a train closer to home when the rail line extension from Richlands to Springfield opens in 2014. It appears that only a few of them got to the train by feeder bus, as the next map shows.


There was significant shift to bus use in the southern suburbs, particularly around the South East Busway (shown in purple). This busway opened in 2001, but it seems mode shift has continued. There was also strong shift in South Brisbane and the West End (where the high frequency CityGlider bus was introduced), out to The Gap, to the inner south-west, the inner northern suburbs between the train lines, and south through Calamvale (north of Browns Plains, now served by high service “BUZ” bus routes using the South East Busway). There was little shift to using buses in the outer suburbs, other than in the Browns Plains area which is now serviced by BUZ routes.


There are some significant changes, particularly around the West End (south-west of the CBD) where ferry mode share collapsed (perhaps due to increased bus service levels and disruptions to ferries following the 2011 floods). Ferry mode share also dropped in the St Lucia area, and for students on the University of Queensland campus. I suspect this might be to do with increased bus service levels.

There was strong growth in ferry mode share in Bulimba (north-east of the CBD), following the reopening of the Apollo Road Ferry Wharf in 2008 (which on these maps seems to have been a success) (Apollo Road wharf is the furthest downstream ferry wharf on the south bank).

Train and bus

Train and bus journeys increased share in many areas around Brisbane (note the different scale). Notable areas include around Ferny Grove, North Lakes, along the Beenleigh rail line, along the rail line to Darra, and in Springfield. However these are all very small mode shares.

Multiple public transport modes

Multiple public transport mode journey origins tend to be fairly scattered, so here is a summary over the Greater Brisbane area (using place of enumeration data and thus losing journeys with ferry + non PT modes):

Integrated fares were introduced in 2004/05 eliminating the fare penalty for changing modes. There was a slight drop in multi-modal public transport mode share in 2006 (compared to 2001), but then a substantial rise by 2011 (faster than growth in single mode journeys). I want to explore multi-modality in journey to work data some more soon. Stay tuned.

Mode shift to public transport overall

Here’s a map showing the overall mode share to public transport in Statistical Local Areas (SLAs), the smallest geography where data is available for both 2006 and 2011 (you’ll need to click to enlarge, and unfortunately my GIS software doesn’t give every SLA a label ).

The biggest mode shifts to public transport on this map are in Pallara – Heathwood – Larapinta (mostly sparsely populated), around Darra-Richlands (where the new train line opened), Calamvale (new BUZ routes presumably), and around the end of the South East Busway.

Pinjarra Hills has a shift but only 139 people travelled to work from this SLA in 2011, so it only takes a few people to register a larger mode shift. And before you get excited about the airport area (Pinenba-Eagle Farm), only 144 people travelled from there to work in 2011. I’ll look at mode share by work location in a later post.

The biggest shift away from public transport was in Yeerongpilly, whilst other SLAs with significant drops include Fairfield, Geebung, Holland Park, and Highgate Hill. Not sure what the reasons might be in those places.

Walking only

There was a slight shift to walking in the inner city areas, notably around Woolloongabba, Paddington, and Wilston. Walking mode share was highest around the CBD, Fortitude Valley, and around St Lucia/University of Queensland (UQ).


Cycling has grown rapidly (off a small base), particularly in the inner suburbs include around St Lucia/UQ and West End.

I’m sure other people will find more patterns – please comment on any interesting finds.

Spatial changes in Perth journey to work 2006-2011

Fri 2 November, 2012

How have mode shares of journeys to work from different home locations changed in Perth? What impact has the new Mandurah rail line had?

In my post on city level mode share changes we saw that Perth had a 2.1% mode shift to public transport between 2006 and 2011. This post will uncover which areas shifted the most.

The following animations show various mode shares for journeys to work from census collection districts for 2006 and Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1) for 2011. These are the smallest geographies available for each census. All the data is by place of usual residence.

I’ve animated each image to alternate between 2006 and 2011, so you can gaze at them and spot the changes. You’ll need to click on them to enlarge and see the animation.

(I’ve used a slightly faster flip speed compared to my equivalent Melbourne post. Is this better? Please let me know).

Public transport

You can see dramatic increases in public transport mode share in the southern suburbs, most strikingly around Kwinana, Rockingham, and Atwell/Success/Hammond Park/Aubin Grove (south of Cockburn Central). You would have to say the new Mandurah rail line is fairly transformational public transport infrastructure.

You can also see people moved in near Clarkson train station (south-east corner of the urban block labelled “Clarkson” in the far north) and 29% of commuters nearest the station caught public transport to work (most on the fast train service to the Perth CBD). If Clarkson is supposed to be a transit orientated development with high public transport use, it seems to have been successful. The public transport mode share is extraordinarily high for such an outer suburban area. Note that Clarkson station opened in 2004.

Areas of Perth with little discernible shift to public transport include Ellenbrook, the Forrestfield/Kalamunda area to the east, and Ballajura (north-east of Mirrabooka). These outer suburbs do have bus routes linking them to the centre of Perth, but they don’t exactly get a high-speed run into the city.

Sustainable transport (only)

This map excludes those who used private transport to reach public transport. In the outer suburbs of Perth, it seems the vast majority of people are using private motorised transport as part of their journey to work, including to get to train stations.

[minor corrections to map made 5 Nov 2012]


As you would expect, there is a huge change in the southern suburbs around the new Mandurah rail line.

It is also interesting to see that train mode share was much higher north of Warwick than it is south of Warwick. In fact for the inner suburbs significant train mode shares only showed up in the immediate area around stations. Those further from the train line were a little less likely to use public transport, and were more likely to use buses, as the next map shows.


There’s not a lot of change across Perth. In particular, there isn’t much change in the middle southern suburbs (between Fremantle and Cannington). That might suggest the net increase in public transport mode share in this area came from people getting to train stations by modes other than feeder bus.


I’ve added ferries for completeness. I’m not sure what conclusions you can draw, especially with the change in geographies between 2006 and 2011. Certainly ferries did get used by a group of commuters in the South Perth area to get across to the Perth CBD (note there is no train station in South Perth).

Train and bus

You can see the middle southern suburbs used feeder bus services in significant numbers, though not as strongly around Kwinana and Rockingham (perhaps parking at the station is easier?). Train + bus commuting also grew somewhat in the northern suburbs between Warwick and Joondalup, and west of Stirling.

Mode shift to public transport overall

Here’s a map showing the mode shift towards public transport by Statistical Local Area (SLA), the smallest geography for which results are available for both the 2006 and 2011 censuses.

The biggest mode shift was in Kwinana, followed by Perth – remainder (areas of the City of Perth excluding the CBD core), Cockburn, Canning and Melville – all around the new Mandurah rail line. Just off the map is the City of Mandurah area, which had a 5.7% mode shift to public transport (from 3.2% to 8.9%). Nowhere in Perth did public transport mode share go down, although in Kalamunda it was stagnant at 6.7%.

And before you get excited about Rottnest Island showing a mode shift to public transport, it is simply part of the Cockburn SLA. For the record, only 73 people on Rottnest travelled to work in 2011, 21% by bicycle and 64% by walking only (none by ferry or other public transport).

Walking only

The biggest change was in the CBD, where there is now a significant density of workers living (and thus making it onto the map). Walking to work was largely confined to the Perth CBD, around the University of Western Australia (UWA, east of Claremont), Fremantle, Joondalup, and Claremont


Cycling has grown rapidly (off a small base), particularly in the inner northern and western suburbs, south of Fremantle, and around UWA.

I’m sure other people will find more patterns – please comment on any interesting finds.