Changes in travel demand in Melbourne – is it time for a new paradigm?

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - demand


Before 2004, travel behaviour and public transport patronage growth in Melbourne were predictable. Trip rates and mode shares were constant, and demand changes were closely linked to population growth. Since 2004, however, there has been a dramatic increase in patronage on sustainable modes of travel, most evident in the surge in public transport patronage.

Understanding the reasons for such growth and how these trends in mode choice might be reflected in the future is critical in forecasting future patronage levels. Metlink and DOT have undertaken significant research to attempt to answer these questions, both before and during the Global Financial Crisis and in all Australian mainland state capital cities.

This research reveals a number of key drivers, most notably a potential new market segment that has emerged that is driven by lifestyle choices around the environment and health & fitness issues, that makes them heavily pre-disposed to public transport and other sustainable transport modes. Other factors have also clearly been a key part of the story, and themselves are difficult to forecast future trends. The early conclusion from this research is that it might be time to proclaim a new paradigm of travel choices in Melbourne which has significant implications for future patronage forecasting.