The Paradox of Public Transport Peak Spreading: Universities and Travel Demand Management

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, place - universities, planning - travel demand management


peak spreading, public transport, travel demand management, travel planning


The characteristics which make public transport attractive and contribute to high public transport use by specific market segments create the paradox in which encouragement of peak spreading of public transport services may lead to lower overall use of public transport. As an example of this potential paradox, the challenges of spreading peak demand for public transport for a large inner city trip generator, the University of Sydney in inner Sydney NSW, Australia are investigated, from both the demand side and supply side. While there is a range of university and government initiatives which would reduce peak use and encourage peak spreading such as class scheduling, provision of student housing, travel planning, and changes to public transport supply and pricing, they may not achieve either a reduction in peak use or a spread of public transport demand to other times of the day. Education users are the most dedicated users of public transport and, for a peak spreading campaign to be successful, finely balanced messages are required to encourage peak public transport users such as students to shift to the off-peak, and for peak car drivers such as staff not to replace these users on peak public transport services.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.