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      Slowly coming out of COVID-19 restrictions in Australia: Implications for working from home and commuting trips by car and public transport


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          With the onset of COVID-19 restrictions and the slow relaxing of many restrictions, it is imperative that we understand what this means for the performance of the transport network. In going from almost no commuting, except for essential workers, to a slow increase in travel activity with working from home (WFH) continuing to be both popular and preferred, this paper draws on two surveys, one in late March at the height of restrictions and one in late May as restrictions are starting to be partially relaxed, to develop models for WFH and weekly one-way commuting travel by car and public transport. We compare the findings as one way to inform us of the extent to which a sample of Australian residents have responded through changes in WFH and commuting. While it is early days to claim any sense of a new stable pattern of commuting activity, this paper sets the context for ongoing monitoring of adjustments in travel activity and WFH, which can inform changes required in the revision of strategic metropolitan transport models as well as more general perspectives on future transport and land use policy and planning.


          • Two wave study examining work from home (WFH) and commute behaviour through COVID-19 pandemic.

          • New models for WFH and impact on commuting activity.

          • Evidence of changes WFH and commuting from immediately after restrictions to their initial easing

          • Small decreases in WFH and increases in car-based commuting starting to occur.

          • WFH has been a positive experience and many would to WFH more than before COVID-19, if they have an appropriate space.

          • Policy makers should encourage employer support for working from home and help identify and reduce barriers to doing so.

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          Most cited references23

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          Insights into the impact of COVID-19 on household travel and activities in Australia – The early days under restrictions

          When 2020 began, we had no idea what was to unfold globally as we learnt about the Novel-Coronavirus in Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China. As this virus spread rapidly, it became a matter of time before many countries began to implement measures to try and contain the spread of the disease. COVID-19 as it is referred to, resulted in two main approaches to fighting the viral pandemic, either through a progressive set of measures to slow down the number of identified cases designed to ‘flatten the curve’ over time (anticipated to be at least six months), or to attack it by the severest of measures including a total lock-down and/or herding exposure to fast track ‘immunisation’ while we await a vaccine. The paper reports the findings from the first phase of an ongoing survey designed to identify the changing patterns in travel activity of Australian residents as a result of the stage 2 restrictions imposed by the Australian government. The main restrictions, in addition to social distancing of at least 1.5 m, are closure of entry to Australia (except residents returning), and closure of non-essential venues such as night clubs, restaurants, mass attendee sporting events, churches, weddings, and all social gatherings in any circumstance. With some employers encouraging working from home and others requiring it, in addition to job losses, and many children attending school online from home, the implications on travel activity is extreme. We identify the initial impacts associated with the first month of stricter social distancing measures introduced in Australia.
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            Dual‐earner Parent Couples’ Work and Care during COVID‐19

            COVID‐19 and the associated lockdowns meant many working parents were faced with doing paid work and family care at home simultaneously. To investigate how they managed, this paper draws a subsample of parents in dual earner couples (n=1,536) from a national survey of 2,722 Australian men and women conducted during lockdown in May 2020. It asked how much time respondents spent in paid and unpaid labour, including both active and supervisory care, and about their satisfaction with work‐family balance and how their partner shared the load. Overall, paid work time was slightly lower, and unpaid work time was very much higher, during lockdown than before it. These time changes were most for mothers, but gender gaps somewhat narrowed because the relative increase in childcare was higher for fathers. More mothers than fathers were dissatisfied with their work‐family balance and partner's share before COVID‐19. For some the pandemic improved satisfaction levels, but for most they became worse. Again, some gender differences narrowed, mainly because more fathers also felt negatively during lockdown than they had before.
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              Regression Models with Ordinal Variables


                Author and article information

                J Transp Geogr
                J Transp Geogr
                Journal of Transport Geography
                Elsevier Ltd.
                2 September 2020
                October 2020
                2 September 2020
                : 88
                : 102846
                Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS), The University of Sydney Business School, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author.
                S0966-6923(20)30712-2 102846
                © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                : 7 July 2020
                : 14 August 2020
                : 17 August 2020

                coronavirus,covid-19,travel activity,working from home (wfh),ordered logit wfh model,frequency of modal commuting,poisson regression,household surveys,australian evidence


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