Exploring the impact of public transport strikes on travel behavior and traffic congestion

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail, place - australasia, place - urban, mode - car, planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour, ridership - mode choice


Congestion, network-wide, personnel strikes, public transport, transport model, withdrawal


Public transport (PT) disruption can occur due to various factors such as malfunctions and breakdowns of vehicles, power outages, and personnel strikes. This paper explores the network-wide impacts of PT strikes (train, tram, and bus strikes) on traffic congestion in Melbourne, Australia using a network modeling approach. A primary survey aimed to investigate the mode shift of users when each public transport mode ceases was conducted with 648 public transport users in May 2016. Findings show that train withdrawal was expected to result in 43% of users shifting to car. Smaller yet significant shifts to car was also expected with bus withdrawal (34%) and tram withdrawal (17%). Based on the survey results and the use of a four-step transport model, train withdrawal was expected to increase the number of severely congested road links by 130% and reduce the average travel speed from 48 km/h to 39 km/h (20% decrease). Bus and tram withdrawal was also found to increase congestion although the result was less severe. Future research should investigate the switching behavior in actual withdrawal events and explore the long-term effects of public transport withdrawal.


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