Moving Australia


Transport Opinion Survey

TOPS is commissioned and distributed by the Institute of Transport & Logistics Studies, University of Sydney. 

TOPS is a quarterly survey of 1,000 adults aged 18 years and over across Australia. The sample is representative of Australia’s population distribution and demographic characteristics. Interviews are conducted by telephone by Taverner Research using trained interviewers.

Do Australians think transport is getting better in their local area? How confident are Australians that transport will improve in the short-term and long-term in Australia? What is the highest priority issue in transport for Australians? Is the state or federal government considered most responsible for transport? Should the private sector be more involved in the provision of public transport? TOPS tracks changes in Australians' confidence and sentiment about transport every quarter, and compares NSW with other states.

TOPS Results

  • 19% of Australians nominated infrastructure as one of the two highest priority issues in Australia today, slightly up from 17% in March 2018. In the March 2019 quarter, 10% of Australians nominated transport as one of the two highest priority issues in Australia today, slightly up from 9% in March 2018. 
  • 31% of Australians said that the highest priority issue for transport in Australia is public transport improvements, down from 38% in March 2018. This is followed by other issues (27%) and road improvements (21%).
  • 59% of Australians said that transport in their local areas is the same now as one year ago, slightly up from 55% in the March 2018 quarter.
  • 14% of Australians said that transport in their local area will be better in one year’s time, slightly up from 12% in the March 2019 quarter.
  • 17% of Australians think that transport in Australia will be better in one year’s time, slightly up from 15% in the March 2018 quarter.
  • 30% of Australians think that transport in Australia will be better in five years, the same as in the March 2018 quarter and down from 34% in the September 2018.
  • Compared to the launch of TOPS in March 2010, in March 2019 Australians are less confident about transport in their local area (Confidence index: down from 100 to 78), and across Australia in one-year time (Confidence index: down from 100 to 75), and in five years (Confidence index: down from 100 to 77).
  • One in ten Australians said that their work-related travelling is 40% or greater of the total time. About six out of ten Australian respondents revealed that they have never travelled for business purposes.
  • 82% of Australians use private car, followed by bus and metropolitan train/tram with 36% and 33%, respectively. Ride share such as Uber, Lyft slightly exceeds taxi among Australians.
  • A majority of Australians would like to see existing road usage charges, such as fuel excises and vehicle registration fees, replaced with charges more directly linked to the distance and time of day that they travel.  
  • Seven out of ten Australians support the replacement of existing fuel excises with a charge based on distance driven.
  • Six in ten people surveyed said they would be willing to pay five cents for every kilometre they drive in capital cities during the weekday peak periods in return for removal of registration fees.
  • An end to registration fees was supported by 70 percent of Victorians, while the number was 63 percent in Queensland and South Australia, and 55 percent in New South Wales.
  • Australians are now more confident about the future provision of transport infrastructure and services by local and national authorities than they were in 2015.
  • The short-term transport confidence index for local transport is now at 85, compared to 63 in March 2018 and 44 in September 2015.
  • The long-term confidence index for Australian transport also increases to 83 from 74 in the first quarter of this year.
  • Car sharing services such as GoGet Oneway and Car2Share are growing in popularity amongst travellers at the expense of taxi and ride sharing services such as Uber. 
  • Support for one-way car share services was strongest amongst TOPS participants in South Australia (68 percent), followed by Queensland (67 percent) and Western Australia (64 percent).
  • When asked about the possibility of using a car-share scheme instead of a taxi or Uber service for a one-way trip, well over half (59 percent) of TOPS participants had a greater preference for car sharing.
  • When asked about their view of car-based taxi like services, 39 percent said they preferred regular taxis over Uber type services (22 percent) while the remaining 39 percent of participants said that their preference depended on the circumstances.
  • When it comes to choosing between a taxi and an Uber type services, more than half of those surveyed (54 percent) said that their decision would be based on price while 27 percent indicated that service quality was the most important factor.
  • Vehicle quality was the deciding factor for just 19 percent of respondents.
  • The TOPS six monthly index of attitudes towards the state of local transport services in the short-term deteriorated to 68 from 80 last September while the long term outlook remained unchanged at 74.
  • Australians are looking forward to self-driving cars but are unlikely to share their vehicles with other travellers contrary to predictions made by transport experts and the motor industry.
  • Road congestion in our major cities is unlikely to ease with the arrival of self-drive cars and could be worse than it is today.
  • One in four survey participants said they would buy a self-drive car for family use if they were available but only one-third of these adopters would lease their vehicles to other travellers when it was not in use.
  • Forty percent of participants said that they would probably use their cars more as travelling became easier while more than thirty percent said they would use their car rather than use some public transport.
  • No survey participants expected their daily travel to remain the same in the driver-less era.
  • Australians have steadily regained confidence in their local transport services but this is still a long way from the high recorded in September 2013.


  • Fewer than half of Australian travellers believe that the nation’s roads are “relatively safe” while a declining number of people have confidence in transport in their local area. 
  • Around 60 percent of participants said that at least one major accident occurred on their regular routes every three months.
  • Nearly 20 percent of West Australians said that up to three accidents occurred on their regular travel routes per month while at the other end of the scale, only 11 percent of South Australians reported up to three accidents per month.
  • Only 15 percent of New South Wales residents believe that transport in their local area will be better in a year from now while 39 percent of Victorian residents expect an improvement over the next 12 months.
  • The public’s transport expectations continues to decline. From a starting point of 100 in 2010, the index in relation to expectations of an improvement in transport over the next year now stands at 66 while the five year outlook stands at 71.
  • In a question related to toll payments, the TOPS survey found that in nearly 80 percent of cases the charge is met by the driver. In around 15 per cent of cases the cost is shared by the driver and a passenger while the driver’s employer picks up the tab less than five percent of the time.
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