COVID and Working from Home: How has it impacted transport?
Project partners: Transport for NSW, Department of Transport and Main Roads (Queensland), Department of Transport WA, University of Sydney
Our Working from Home: Revising metro strategic transport models project began in the very early days of the COVID pandemic in Australia. The project ran for three years and took in COVID ramifications mainly on the transport systems in NSW and Queensland. The research is now complete, and the final report is downloadable at the bottom of this article.
The report summarises the main findings and policy implications to understand the impacts of COVID-19 and particularly its impact on Working From Home (WFH), in relation to the transport network.
Data collection began in the early days of the pandemic in early 2020, and was compiled and analysed up until the end of 2022, and included a total of seven survey questionnaires.
The surveys were conducted online using the Pure Profile customer panel. Amongst the questions asked of the participants were:
- level of employment prior to the COVID-19 outbreak as well as after
- their ability to, and instances of, WFH
- the household’s weekly travel activity, and if/how it had changed
- level of car use
- level of comfort with using public transport given new biosecurity concerns
- experiences with grocery shopping
- attitudinal questions about the threat of COVID-19 and the response of governments, businesses, and people in general
Supplemental to the survey questions was data telling the story of what was happening in the urban areas being investigated, including public transport patronage, traffic counts on major roads, employer views on WFH, the ways in which travel time ‘savings’ from reduced commuting is reallocated to other work and leisure activities, and “what WFH means for wellbeing and general satisfaction with life”, and the what an ongoing WFH scenario means for future transport and land use planning and investment.
To say that this project, and its 721-page final report was broad would be understating things. The impact of the pandemic has been far-reaching, and the actions and reactions of the public and governments to rapid change in the transport system is reflected in the huge amount of data gathered in this research.
Using all of this data obtained over the seven waves of data collection, and a literature review, the investigation covered changes ranging from individual to societal. Questions and investigations derived from this work include:
- How has the incidence of WFH changed?
- What do commuters do with the time saved from reduced commuting?
- Does WFH and reduced commuting have a positive benefit on wellbeing?
- What is the evidence on productivity implications of WFH?
- How might WFH impact on the days of the week commuting?
- What was the impact of the pandemic on public transport use by commuters
- How might WFH impact on non-commuting travel activity?
- Has the pandemic and WFH had an influence in office space?
- Public transport and the importance of transport decarbonisation
- The shape of cities and the Central Business District
- Impacts on retail and supply chains
Download the report
This long-running project is an important piece of work in outlining the massive changes to transport that has occurred due to the influence of the pandemic. Things that were tossed around as ideas for many years were put into practice. And quickly.
The result? We now know that people and business adapted to change. We know that communication technology has matured, and its adoption is so widespread, so as to allow productivity to be maintained in a WFH scenario.
Download your copy of the final report, Working from Home (WFH) and Implications for Revision of Metropolitan Strategic Transport Models, by clicking the button below.DOWNLOAD THE FINAL REPORT