An RAA survey shows commuters are reluctant to use public transport, prompting a raft of recommendations from the state’s largest member organisation to improve services and boost patronage.
These include a digital ticketing option, cleaner buses, greater passenger safety, indented bus stops, more frequent and faster services, and better services to non-CBD locations.
Public transport patronage was hit hard by the Covid crisis, falling from 19.2 million a quarter in 2019 to 12.5 million in the June quarter this year – or 35 per cent – according to SA Government figures.
RAA CEO Nick Reade said there was an urgent need to boost public patronage as the number of vehicles on our roads increase.
“Adelaide traditionally had the lowest public transport patronage in the nation, and the impact of Covid has put further pressure on finding ways to increase the network’s use,’’ he said.
RAA’s survey of 1300 commuters found 73% would reduce or maintain their use of public transport during the next 12 months, in part due to fear of catching Covid or other illnesses and as a result of working from home.
That has created a challenge for government, which in the 2022-23 State Budget set a target to increase public transport boardings by 62% over 12 months, generating an additional $45.4 million revenue from Metroticket sales.
Mr Reade said the survey showed the price of fuel influenced 42% of respondents’ decision to take public transport rather than drive, and a majority (54%) believe public transport tickets were not expensive.
“With fuel prices at relatively high levels, many commuters may be tempted to switch to public transport,’’ he said.
Mr Reade strongly supported the government’s decisions to make public transport free for Seniors Card holders and install “smart validators” allowing users to pay with Visa, MasterCard or smartphones on all public transport.
“Embracing this technology is a first step in improving the customer experience and help infrequent users and tourists use public transport more often,’’ he said.
“We also believe the government should provide a digital public transport ticket option for commuters to purchase and validate through apps, which would especially appeal to students and concession holders.
“Our survey revealed that commuters strongly support a digital ticketing option. It found 64 per cent of respondents indicated that they would use an app that allowed them to pay for public transport trips.’’
He added that more needed to be done to drive public transport patronage, including the following recommendations:
Mr Reade said RAA was looking forward to discussing these proposals at today’s Select Committee on Public and Active Transport, inquiring into the availability and quality of public transport.
RAA is helping to support the uptake of public transport by introducing the sale of MetroCARD tickets at all of its seven metropolitan shops and Mt Barker outlet from last month.