Skip to main content

The future network

Future Transport Strategy

Optimising the network

Network optimisation through travel demand management initiatives, such as behaviour change, new technology, more responsive services, and road space reallocation, can improve connectivity, sustainability, safety and place making for the people of NSW. These initiatives are also less expensive than delivering new infrastructure and are flexible to changes in urban form, society and technology. 

A major focus when planning the network is mitigating the costs and impacts of congestion. Congestion and crowding occur when demand for travel reaches or exceeds capacity, resulting in increased travel times, reduced reliability and a poorer customer experience.

While congestion is a major driver of new investment, particularly in metropolitan and outer metropolitan areas, its concentration in relatively short peak periods conceals significant capacity and underuse in off-peak hours, or in the counter-peak direction. 

Optimising the network means maximising the benefit derived from the assets we have. 
At times this may require adding infrastructure or services, but alternatives could include allocating space differently to prioritise modes with higher carrying capacities. For example, a standard bus carrying 60 passengers uses one-twentieth of the road space of the cars needed to carry the same number of people. A double decker bus increases efficiency even further by carrying 90 passengers in the same road space.

Other measures may include changing the way the network is used throughout the day based on demand or dynamically adjusting signal settings as modal priorities change. Another approach could be introducing initiatives to change customer behaviour, for example by travelling outside peak periods, so that network demand does not exceed capacity. 

Some regional areas set mode share targets that represent the extent to which they hope to see shifts in customer behaviours, moving towards a greater share of walking and cycling, or public transport use. Newcastle, for example, has a mode share target of 17 per cent walking and cycling, and 7.55 per cent for public transport by 2056.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many challenges, the need to limit travel and provide sufficient capacity for social distancing on the transport network has provided a number of insights on how we could manage the network in the future to avoid congestion, based on the success of our immediate responses. Potential initiatives may include further encouraging customers to travel outside the peak, providing ‘pop-up’ cycleways to encourage mode shift, providing customers with real-time information on service capacity, and supporting a more flexible workforce through a 24-hour network.

The NSW Government is currently addressing road congestion through a number of programs, including:

  • Travel Choices – a tool to help people avoid delays when navigating the network by choosing the most efficient transport modes, routes and travel times.
  • The Intelligent Congestion Management Program – a program that integrates business processes and systems that support data gathering, analysis, decision support and information exchange around congestion management.
  • Easing Sydney’s Congestion Program – a program to deliver improvements to tackle congestion in Sydney, incorporating several initiatives relating to bus priority, pinch points, ‘smart motorways’ and clearways. 
  • Introducing more all-day networks – this includes adding more than 2,000 additional weekly bus services in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and Lower North Shore in December 2020, including overnight B-Line services for the first time.
  • Opal off-peak fares – providing discounted fares for travel outside of peak times on the Opal network to spread travel demand throughout the day.

Transport for NSW has also adopted the Travel Demand Management (TDM) framework for new projects.
TDM is the application of a focused, data-led strategy to change demand on transport networks by redistributing journeys to other modes, times of the day or routes, or removing the journey altogether where the task can be done remotely, such as working from home or accessing eHealth services. 

TDM targets behaviour change strategies and the provision of design and/or infrastructure elements that encourage desirable transport outcomes, such as pedestrian amenity or accessibility, real-time public transport information, cycling infrastructure, end-of-trip facilitates and bicycle parking. Depending on the project, consideration could also be given to whether service changes or capacity creation on public transport may be required to meet or influence demand.

Transport has also developed a road user space allocation policy, which considers how physical and temporal road user space is allocated safely and equitably to support the movement of people and goods and place objectives.


Future directions to investigate

  • Continue Travel Choices Program, the Transport for NSW travel demand management behaviour change program, to encourage large and medium employers and universities develop travel plans that support sustainable travel behaviour, workplaces and education campuses. 
  • Continue the Transport for NSW Travel Demand Program to deliver precinct-based travel demand strategies, in partnership with large employers, educational institutions, local governments and NSW Government agencies, to support sustainable travel behaviour within the community.
  • Develop a concept of operations for the Sydney road network that identifies priority users of the transport network (including pedestrians and bike riders) by time of day and day of week, allowing for better customer outcomes and better places. 
  • Enhance our capability for dynamic, real-time management of the network to improve performance and reduce the impact of incidents, events and planned maintenance.
  • Provide new walking, cycling and public transport networks and services to meet customer needs and reduce car dependency, not only to major centres, but to more dispersed locations.
  • Plan and manage transport networks for the best use and optimum movement of people and goods along and across transport corridors and within precincts, while creating better places and amenity for communities.
  • Progressively review road space allocation to achieve better customer outcomes and better places, activating a rapid bus network to support fast, frequent and reliable bus services across Sydney. 
  • Encourage customers to use the transport system differently, by shifting to walking, cycling or public transport through increased investment and use of travel demand management techniques to reduce congestion in peak periods; to improve network efficiency and deliver long-term sustainable travel behaviour change.
  • Continue to manage private vehicle congestion in high-demand areas through appropriate policy measures, such as the parking space levy.
  • Preserve corridors for strategically important infrastructure early in the planning process, to avoid cost overruns, delays and community disruption during the project delivery phase.
  • Work with planning authorities to ensure developments encourage trips to be made by sustainable modes of transport.
  • Investigate the opportunity to provide more all day and night public transport services across the network.

Six principles for Future Transport

The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is focused on six key principles for the future of mobility in the state, which together aim to positively impact the economy, communities and environment of NSW.

Read more