A Monash University study surveying the transportation habits of Melbourne commuters has revealed possible methods to increase public transport adoption amongst first-time parents.
Respondents who had become parents in the past year cited a lack of off-peak frequencies, dedicated caregiver station parking and suburban reach as issues preventing their increased use of public transport.
The study found that among the 758 new parents surveyed, many were increasingly turning to cars to support their needs, with the volume of people using public transport regularly dropping from 30 per cent of respondents in the year prior to becoming parents to just 14 per cent a year after the birth of their children.
In addition, the number of respondents who said they rarely or never used a car decreased from one-third to less than one per cent in the same timeframe.
“A number of studies have shown that households with children are more car-dependent than other households groups,” said Laura McCarthy, a PhD researcher from Monash University’s Public Transport Research Group.
“Our study identifies different groups of transport users. By doing this, we found that, while car use did increase for most groups, other groups displayed more sustainable travel patterns following parenthood.
Monash split its findings into five distinct transport categories: Transit Leavers, Consistent Drivers, Committed Multimodals, Transit Faithfuls and Devoted Cyclists.
The Devoted Cyclists group showed one of the biggest post-parenthood drops, from 46 per cent to just one per cent.
McCarthy suggested that modest changes could be made to better accommodate families with young children using public transport.
“Each of the five groups shared different characteristics and attitudes towards travel modes,” she said. “This suggests a one-size-fits-all policymaking approach may need to be abandoned in favour of a more nuanced consideration of the public transport needs of new parents.”