In this month’s edition of the View from Canberra, we ask the question if it is too early to make a call on the ‘new norm’ for bus businesses in a post-covid environment. There can be no doubt that the public transport sector saw a significant shift in patronage in different periods of covid outbreaks and consequent lock downs. The question is – will Australian’s continue to choose a work from home option (if able to) and will alternative commutes that were taken up during outbreaks (ie. the bike and car) continue?
According to Infrastructure Australia, public transport useage in most Australian cities fell to 10-30% of normal levels in the initial lockdown in 2020 but settled at a ‘new norm’ of ~60-70% in the second half of the year. Some regions are seeing a local boom of regional tourism and population, and are experiencing less severe Covid-19 impacts. There is also a shift in residential movements from major city centres to cheaper outer urban and regional centres. It falls upon the public transport sector to advise governments on bus investments and bus services requirements to avoid congestion problems and to provide safe and/or trusted alternatives to self-drive. This edition of the View also takes a look at what is happening in the tourism sector for bus business. There is some social commentary that international flight travel is not a sustainable practice with climate change being such a pressing issue. According to the OECD, sustainability and environmentally friendly travel will become more of a priority for travellers. Visiting natural areas, regional and local destinations with shorter travel distances may see our coach tourism sector recognised as having a low environmental footprint.