Future transport: moving forward with purpose

Why should travel demand management be considered for cities and regions in a post-COVID world?

The arrival of 2020 brought with it unprecedented scenarios. Our way of life and that of our urban and regional transport systems has been impacted in ways we never expected.

The speed with which these impacts were felt by the transport sector was significant, with road, rail and bus systems experiencing free-fall declines in customer numbers almost overnight.

The resulting slow down or shut down of operations thrust these transport systems into unchartered territory.

However, the transition out of the pandemic offers unique opportunities to operate our existing transport systems more effectively, assisted by using travel demand management measures.

Why should travel demand management be considered for cities in a post-COVID world?

Moving forward with purpose

By leveraging the collective experience and expertise of Aurecon’s urban mobility teams in Australia and New Zealand, we have collated a series of ideas for how travel demand management measures applied to our mobility networks can bring completely new experiences for transport operators, managers and those who depend on them.

Watch this video and explore our insights below to discover how we can move people and goods more effectively in a post-COVID-19 world.

Play video Future transport-moving forward with purpose
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Transport: the great enabler

Transport enables the movement of massive volumes of people as we balance the complex and integrated nature of our lives now and into the future. The application of travel demand management measures allows a city to better manage and balance the demand for existing transport infrastructure.

From Aurecon’s perspective, mobility in an ideal world is a blend of public transport (mass transit), cycling, walking, micro-mobility, carpooling or ridesharing, private vehicles, shifting travel times, and working from home.

Travel demand management needs to be considered for cities in order to manage congestion, lower carbon emissions, and enable the movement of people and goods.

This report has been developed for cities, providing insights on the travel demand management measures to introduce for different transport system groups. These insights may assist cities to re-plan and re-invent mobility in a post-COVID world.

The three groups we consider are:

We look through the lens of each group to see how travel demand management measures could positively influence their planning, management, and use of transport systems.

Federal and local government

Transport system managers

Managers may include:

  • State and federal government representative under pressure to reduce congestion and carbon emissions
  • Local government representative trying to balance road maintenance costs, business needs for customer parking and community expectations around pedestrian-oriented town centres
Bus drivers

Transport system operators

Operators may include:

  • Ridesharing/taxi operator managing social distancing and health safety restrictions
  • Public transport operator accommodating social distance and congestion while moving people, all with reduced earnings
Families and business owners

Transport system dependents / users

Individual dependents may include:

  • Parent driving children to school or care before taking public transport to work
  • Older Australian living in the outer suburbs with the closest rail station a 15 minute drive, so instead chooses to drive to their inner city place of work
  • Young professional using public transport to attend work

Business dependents may include:

  • Business owner needing foot traffic but roadways/footpaths becoming less appealing as congestion increases
  • Business owner relying on goods and services in a timely manner
  • Business owner travelling to their place of work

Transport system managers

The COVID-19 pandemic offers a good opportunity to develop and implement transport policies and interventions that might not have been considered in the past.

Changes in policy decisions

Policy decisions made during this crisis may provide more innovation and improvements around public and active transport, but it’s not automatic. It is a matter of design and action by governments, planners, companies, engineers and individuals, and we all have a role in guiding this change.

Once COVID-19 is under control, if we are going to exit this current economic downturn, we need to boost productivity and economic activity. Activity on city roads does indicate that people have jobs to go to, and that’s a good thing. However, above a certain threshold, congestion inflicts high economic and productivity costs as well as emotional costs.

The coronavirus pandemic offers a good opportunity to develop and implement transport policies and interventions that might not have been considered in the past.

Re-thinking transport investment

Re-thinking transport investment priorities is not just possible, it’s vital, as public funding may be diverted to health and resilience in the future. Moreover, the assumption of continued growth in travel demand must certainly be reviewed and considered in the context of what people want.

What we knew before COVID-19 was that people looked for convenience when it came to making transport decisions. In a 2019 Aurecon report, 2035 How we move people and goods, 1300 survey respondents from industry and the public in Australia were drawn to transport that saved them time.

Policy decisions made now could unveil great innovation and improvements in mobility

Travel demand management measures can assist transport system managers to plan a more balanced and convenient transport network in a post-COVID world. These include:

  • Re-allocation of street parking bays for active transport routes. Higher parking fees for remaining car parks.
  • Congestion tax, or time/ distance/ place road pricing to provide a disincentive for people driving into congested areas. This is often considered controversial but is used in various locations around the world.
  • Expansion of local centres as demand shifts away from the traditional CBD routes. Leads to state and local governments gaining community support for their concept of 20-minute neighbourhoods.
  • Implement travel behaviour change campaigns to encourage more sustainable modes of transport.
  • Grant and stimulus programs made available to local governments to implement more tactical travel demand management initiatives.
  • Promote staggered start and finish times for businesses, retail centres and schools.

Forecasting changes in travel demand

Forecasting travel demand in any set of conditions is a challenging task for transport system managers. However, the opportunity exists right now to embrace this uncertainty, refresh our experience with scenario planning and seek to identify interventions that can be adapted to a changing future while offering added resilience for the next disruption.

To explore this, Aurecon asked more than 800 of its Australia and New Zealand staff to consider which factors will shape their travel choices in a post-COVID world. We wanted to begin to understand how employees might like to work and travel in the future.

Factors shaping participants’ travel choices in a post-COVID world

Aurecon asked more than 800 of its Australia and New Zealand staff to consider which factors will shape their travel choices in a post-COVID world.

Note: Many participants selected more than one consideration – the graph shows the total number of responses for each consideration. Specific ‘other’ considerations were not captured.

People look for convenience when it comes to their transport decisions

Travel demand management measures can assist transport system managers to make transport more convenient for users.

1

New businesses in local town centres as more people shop local, boosting micro-economies.

2

Improved air quality through the reduction in carbon emissions with less cars on the road.

3

Boosting people’s mental health as working from home frees up commute hours to do the things they enjoy the most.

4

When commuting to the office, people split their journey with cycling/walking and public transport, or ridesharing/carpooling.

5

Less road congestion enables better access to local town centres, and easier city access by bus, tram, train or ridesharing, making suburban areas more attractive to live in.

6

Transport travellers change their movement habits with a better balance of travel mode options.

New businesses in local town centres as more people shop local, boosting micro-economies. Improved air quality through the reduction in carbon emissions with less cars on the road. Boosting people’s mental health as working from home frees up commute hours to do the things they enjoy the most. When commuting to the office, people split their journey with cycling/walking and public transport, or ridesharing/carpooling. Less road congestion enables better access to local town centres, and easier city access by bus, tram, train or ridesharing, making suburban areas more attractive to live in. Transport travellers change their movement habits with a better balance of travel mode options.

Tap on the numbers to reveal the benefits of travel demand management.

New businesses in local town centres as more people shop local, boosting micro-economies.

Improved air quality through the reduction in carbon emissions with less cars on the road.

Boosting people’s mental health as working from home frees up commute hours to do the things they enjoy the most.

When commuting to the office, people split their journey with cycling/walking and public transport, or ridesharing/carpooling.

Less road congestion enables better access to local town centres, and easier city access by bus, tram, train or ridesharing, making suburban areas more attractive to live in.

Transport travellers change their movement habits with a better balance of travel mode options.

The benefits of travel demand management

Travel demand management measures can assist transport system managers to make transport more convenient for users.

This includes a mix of more working from home, local travel and balancing public transport loading between peak and off-peak periods.

Hover over the numbers to reveal the benefits of travel demand management.

Transport system operators

In conversations with our transport system operator clients, it’s evident that this pandemic can offer opportunities to reshape transit systems and revive cities.

  • Less cars on the roads provides health benefits for people and less carbon emissions
  • Infection-proofing public transport might begin at home
  • Better balance of multi-mode transport options to reduce congestion, carbon emissions and infrastructure costs

Our staff survey indicates that people, particularly from our Australian-based offices, may now consider driving to the office rather than using public transport. The main reason is the perceived possibility that contracting the virus is more likely to occur on public transport than in their personal vehicle, and increased congestion due to social distancing.

In conversations with our transport system operator clients, it’s evident that this pandemic can offer opportunities to reshape transit systems and revive cities.
Pre-COVID19 vs Post-COVID19: modes of transport to work Pre-COVID19 vs Post-COVID19: modes of transport to work

Participants’ expected work commuting modes compared pre- and post-COVID-19

When COVID-19 restrictions ease:

  • 30 participants said they would not travel to work
  • Walking and cycling to work is likely to increase
  • Public transport use such as bus, train and tram is likely to decline
  • Driving to work is likely to increase

Note: [1] Many participants selected more than one mode of transport – the graph shows the total number of responses for each mode. [2] Only main forms of transport were included. It is assumed that walking to another transport is not the primary mode of transport in a participant’s trip, therefore been omitted. [3] Other includes taxi, rideshare, carpool, park n’ ride and kiss n’ ride, ferry, motorcycle, scooter.

Long term, we want to preserve public and active transport and not loose commuters back to their cars. Public and active transport is important for balancing the demand on the transport system, keeping air pollution down, and has positive impacts on environment and human health.

There are travel demand management measures that transport operators can implement to keep commuters keen on active and public modes of transport.

1

Intelligent transport systems

Intelligent transport systems to provide transport operators and their customers with real time information on how their network is performing. Instant system adjustments and travel decisions can then be made.

2

Intelligent transport systems

A pre-booking system for seats/spaces on certain buses, trams or trains.

3

Intelligent transport systems

Bus tracking and passenger flow monitoring technology to quickly reroute some buses when demand changes.

4

Intelligent transport systems

Automated passenger-counters or weight sensors that provide information about train-car capacity through an app or display screens at stations, so commuters can spread out by picking the least crowded carriage.

5

Road space reallocation

Road space rationing to encourage modes other than private vehicles.

6

Road space reallocation

Sustainable transport incentives to encourage people to walk and cycle instead of taking public transport or driving.

7

Road space reallocation

Maintaining the community spirit built during the pandemic lockdown to arrange neighbourhood carpooling to work.

8

Flexible working arrangements

Peak load spreading on public transport through time-of-day pricing.

Intelligent transport systems to provide transport operators and their customers with real time information on how their network is performing. Instant system adjustments and travel decisions can then be made. A pre-booking system for seats/spaces on certain buses, trams or trains. Bus tracking and passenger flow monitoring technology to quickly reroute some buses when demand changes. Automated passenger-counters or weight sensors that provide information about train-car capacity through an app or display screens at stations, so commuters can spread out by picking the least crowded carriage. Road space rationing to encourage modes other than private vehicles. Sustainable transport incentives to encourage people to walk and cycle instead of taking public transport or driving. Maintaining the community spirit built during the pandemic lockdown to arrange neighbourhood carpooling to work. Peak load spreading on public transport through time-of-day pricing.

Tap on the numbers to reveal the benefits of travel demand management.

Intelligent transport systems

Intelligent transport systems to provide transport operators and their customers with real time information on how their network is performing. Instant system adjustments and travel decisions can then be made.

Intelligent transport systems

A pre-booking system for seats/spaces on certain buses, trams or trains.

Intelligent transport systems

Bus tracking and passenger flow monitoring technology to quickly reroute some buses when demand changes.

Intelligent transport systems

Automated passenger-counters or weight sensors that provide information about train-car capacity through an app or display screens at stations, so commuters can spread out by picking the least crowded carriage.

Road space reallocation

Road space rationing to encourage modes other than private vehicles.

Road space reallocation

Sustainable transport incentives to encourage people to walk and cycle instead of taking public transport or driving.

Road space reallocation

Maintaining the community spirit built during the pandemic lockdown to arrange neighbourhood carpooling to work.

Flexible working arrangements

Peak load spreading on public transport through time-of-day pricing.

What can we do to make active and public modes of transport more attractive for commuters?

There are travel demand management measures that transport operators can implement to keep commuters keen on active and public modes of transport.

Some of the measures mean that COVID-conscious commuting begins in the home. These measures include:

  • Intelligent transport systems
  • Road space reallocation
  • Flexible working arrangements

Hover over the numbers to reveal the benefits of these travel management measures.

For some people, the future of commuting might be no commuting at all. This kind of societal shift would further reduce the demand and likelihood of crowding situations on the public transport system.

Still, maintaining strong public transport systems is a key component of vibrant cities. Buses, trains, and other modes of public transport are vital for bringing people together and moving our population in major cities.

Transport system dependents (individuals and businesses)

A crucial part of any travel demand management measure lies in knowing what people want when it comes to moving themselves around.

For the Aurecon staff surveyed, the three most highly rated factors for influencing travel mode choice in the transition out COVID-19 was safety, travel time and convenience.

In addition, close to 35 per cent of staff prefer to work from the office only 50 per cent of the time once travel and social distancing restrictions ease.

Percentage of time participants prefer to work from the office

Percentage of time participants prefer to work from the office following COVID-19 | Aurecon
A crucial part of any travel demand management measure lies in knowing what people want when it comes to moving themselves around.

What impact will this have on our city centres? After all, many aspects of our life were designed for commuting, not working from home.

With these trends in mind, future investment in roads, public transport, energy and telecommunications will need to consider the likelihood of more people working from home.

Areas outside city centres will require more attention, as working from home creates a need for more evenly distributed transport networks. Such a trend could support the long-term decentralisation plans of state governments.

In this section, we consider which travel demand management measures have the greatest positive impact on the two sub-groups of transport system dependents – individuals and businesses.

Safety, travel time and convenience are the most common considerations for travel choice in a post-COVID world

A crucial part of any travel demand management measure lies in knowing what people want when it comes to moving themselves around.

1

Segregation of traffic to support more walking or cycling.

2

20-minute neighbourhood initiatives rolled out – giving people the ability to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute walk from home.

3

Information made available about train-car capacity through an app or display screens at stations, so commuters can spread out by picking the least crowded carriage.

4

Car parking levies, and supply limits, discourage private car journeys to local town centres. Perceptions on the benefit of this could be conflicting.

5

Offer motorists the opportunity to cash out their apartment’s free parking allocation to reduce car travel.

6

Leverage the community spirit built during the pandemic lockdown to build the use of carpooling.

Segregation of traffic to support more walking or cycling. 20-minute neighbourhood initiatives rolled out – giving people the ability to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute walk from home. Information made available about train-car capacity through an app or display screens at stations, so commuters can spread out by picking the least crowded carriage. Car parking levies, and supply limits, discourage private car journeys to local town centres. Perceptions on the benefit of this could be conflicting. Offer motorists the opportunity to cash out their apartment’s free parking allocation to reduce car travel. Leverage the community spirit built during the pandemic lockdown to build the use of carpooling.

Tap on the numbers to reveal the benefits of travel demand management.

Segregation of traffic to support more walking or cycling.

20-minute neighbourhood initiatives rolled out – giving people the ability to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute walk from home.

Information made available about train-car capacity through an app or display screens at stations, so commuters can spread out by picking the least crowded carriage.

Car parking levies, and supply limits, discourage private car journeys to local town centres. Perceptions on the benefit of this could be conflicting.

Offer motorists the opportunity to cash out their apartment’s free parking allocation to reduce car travel.

Leverage the community spirit built during the pandemic lockdown to build the use of carpooling.

Benefits for individuals

There is an opportunity to harness the community spirit developed during COVID-19, combined with the data we now have on travel behaviour, to reduce congestion and create more equitable and sustainable travel options.

These could include:

  • More information made available to commuters through apps and information screens
  • Increased use of carpooling
  • Improved opportunities for walking and cycling

Hover over the numbers to reveal the benefits of these travel management measures.

A crucial part of any travel demand management measure lies in knowing what people want when it comes to moving themselves around.

1

Provide local business centres for people to use as office space close to home.

2

Convert street parking to active transport routes or cycle parking, bringing more people to local businesses by bike or on foot.

3

Prioritise short stay parking where appropriate, and measures for protecting town centre areas from spill-over of commuter parking or road traffic congestion.

4

Provide a greater mix of businesses within town centres to better serves people’s daily needs, to encourage less trips to the CBD.

Provide local business centres for people to use as office space close to home. Convert street parking to active transport routes or cycle parking, bringing more people to local businesses by bike or on foot. Prioritise short stay parking where appropriate, and measures for protecting town centre areas from spill-over of commuter parking or road traffic congestion. Provide a greater mix of businesses within town centres to better serves people’s daily needs, to encourage less trips to the CBD.

Tap on the numbers to reveal the benefits of travel demand management.

Provide local business centres for people to use as office space close to home.

Convert street parking to active transport routes or cycle parking, bringing more people to local businesses by bike or on foot.

Prioritise short stay parking where appropriate, and measures for protecting town centre areas from spill-over of commuter parking or road traffic congestion.

Provide a greater mix of businesses within town centres to better serves people’s daily needs, to encourage less trips to the CBD.

Business measures

Local and regional businesses could benefit from a move towards 20-minute neighbourhoods where people may work in the suburb in which they live and will rely more on local amenities.

Local governments will need to consider:

  • Creating business hubs to allow people to work close to home
  • Providing more active transport options to make it easier for people to move around their neighbourhood
  • Prioritising short stay parking

Hover over the numbers to reveal the benefits of these travel management measures.

Convenience culture is still king

Transport system dependents want more choice on how and when they travel or receive goods and services. This choice depends on a variety of convenient ways to travel being available. As some companies support more working from home, people’s need to travel long distances to work will reduce.

For professionals in a new flexible work arrangement, they will split their time between home and the office. For the times they need to go into the office, they might cycle if the weather is nice, or book a seat on public transport if it is not. If they want to get away from the house for a day, they might cycle to a local business centre and work the day from there. At the same time, buying lunch and products from local businesses.

This provides people with increased levels of physical activity and associated health benefits, reduced household transport costs and exposure to vehicle pollutant. It provides local businesses with increased community interaction, greater exposure to gain customers, and faster access to supplies and services.

The introduction of travel demand management measures will move transport system dependents in and around cities (and local areas) much easier, facing less congestion and potentially with more financially viable travel options.

Aurecon: Why should travel demand management be considered for cities and regions in a post-COVID world? Aurecon: Why should travel demand management be considered for cities and regions in a post-COVID world?

How can Aurecon's integrated transport team help you?

Travel demand management measures are about initiating choice; giving people the available choices and incentives needed to satisfy different journey purposes in a way that benefits the transport system as a whole.

For those people who are choosing their cars over public or active transport at the moment, we need to understand, and act on, their underlying needs, and support them to find suitable alternatives where possible. Acting on these needs will prevent our roads becoming car parks and slowing our return to economic stability.

For the people who have transitioned to active transport during the pandemic, we have to understand and respond to their needs so that they stick with it, and contribute to making our transport network a more resilient, equitable, and seamless experience for everyone.

Reach out to us at Aurecon if you’re planning, or seeking funding, to implement travel demand management measures. This is an opportunity like we’ve never had before, and together we can reshape transport networks.

Traffic lights with drones
Antony Johnstone

Antony Johnstone

Integrated Transport & Mobility Capability Leader
+61 8 61459443
Kim Diep, Aurecon

Kim Diep

Civil Engineer, Transport
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