Metrobuses in Sydney: How high capacity and high frequency services are benefiting the Metropolitan fringe

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, mode - bus, mode - car, ridership - commuting, ridership - demand, ridership - mode choice, policy - social exclusion, policy - environment, technology - geographic information systems


Bus network planning evaluation, Metrobus, Vehicle km elasticities, Bus reform, Operator interaction


Metrobuses, branded high capacity and high frequency bus services, have gradually been added to the network in the Sydney metropolitan area since 2008 to link key employment and growth centres across Sydney. The routes have generally overlaid the existing bus network as part of the bus reform package, implemented in Sydney from 2005.

This paper analyses the performance of Metrobuses by looking at time series data to analyse the impacts of the 13 Metrobus routes and their interactions with the existing bus network and to test whether these services have increased public transport use along the corridors they serve.

The methodology captures the routes of the pre-existing network within the catchment area of each Metrobus route using GIS and compares supply and demand for these routes with the Metrobus routes. The results show Metrobuses boost patronage in fringe areas but not in the inner areas where the public transport networks are denser. Metrobus services appear to take at least six months to ramp up patronage to a steady state and then the boardings per supplied km of Metrobuses serving the inner areas are lower than those of the pre-existing routes on the same corridor with the reverse being true for the metropolitan fringe.

These results suggest that quality bus services are more necessary to fringe areas with less access to direct routes than in the inner Sydney with policy implications for social inclusion – access to services and jobs – and for environmental benefits if Metrobuses can promote mode switch to public transport in areas dominated by car use.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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