David A. Hensher , Matthew J. Beck , Camila Balbontín
COVID-19 has delivered an unintended positive consequence through working from home (WFH). While it may be some time until we are able to indicate, with some confidence, the impact that WFH will have on traffic congestion and crowding on public transport, there is a sense already that it is a game changer, and indeed is one of the most effective policy levers that the transport sector has had for many years in ‘managing’ the performance of the transport network. This paper draws on multiple ways of survey data that have been collected since March 2020 when the pandemic first resulted in severe restrictions in Australia. We present the evidence up to December 2021 on the incidence of WFH in two geographical jurisdiction – the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area (GSMA) and South-East Queensland (SEQ) – and how it has been received by employees and employers from the height of restrictions up to a period when restrictions were relaxed, followed by further lockdowns throughout Australia. We show what this might mean for work productivity, lifestyle, and the changing preferences for passenger modes. With a growing preference, within some occupation classes, to WFH 1–2 days a week, and a good spread through the weekdays, we discuss what this means for the way we analyse the impact of transport initiatives on the performance of the transport network with a particular emphasis on the growth in suburbanisation of transport improvements, less costly service and infrastructure improvements, and the changing role of public transport.