Australia: High-Tech Draws New Generation to Trains

Generation Ys now represent more than one-third of all local train and bus commuters, with numbers expected to reflect worldwide trends and continue to soar.

New 2011 figures released by the Public Transport Authority show that commuters aged between 18 and 25 make up 35 percent of all train users and 40 per cent of all bus users up from 30 and 38 percent on last year.

The increase is partly attributed to new communication technologies and the desire by young people to stay connected.

Previous generations found freedom and flexibility through the car, Curtin University's Professor Peter Newman said.

But Generation Ys find their freedom and flexibility by staying connected to their friends, family and workplaces through the various information devices like their laptops, or iPhones.

They can stay connected on a bus or a train. They can bring the office with them. They can bring their study with them. They can bring their friends with them. They can't if they're driving.

University of WA arts student Rebecca Sullivan, 18, uses the train to travel from Success every day.

She finds the commute an ideal time for studying.

Using my laptop, I'm able to access all my study material something I wouldn't be able to do if I drove to uni, she said.

Manning man Matthew Pearce, 21, said public transport was a lot more convenient, and cheaper, than a car.

I'm always using the train and it's good because I'm able to use my Galaxy Tab to keep in contact with my friends, he said.

The PTA has recognised that more and more commuters are using communication technologies while travelling and have created a variety of social network tools to provide easy access to timetables and the latest service information.

There are also plans to fit trains with bluetooth wireless technology during the construction of the Perth City Link project to allow messages to be conveyed to commuters quickly.

The growing popularity of public transport among younger people is expected to challenge existing growth projections.

PTA chief executive Reece Waldock said public transport use in Perth was expected to increase 120 per cent over the next 20 years.

The State Government's long-awaited 20-year public transport plan is expected to be released early next month.

Copyright 2008 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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