Compared with car travel, public transport (PT) reduces carbon emissions, air pollution and may promote physical activity (PA) through active transport (AT; e.g. walking/cycling to stations/stops) thus contributing to meeting PA guidelines. However, car travel remains dominant in Australian cities. This study aimed to examine perceptions and use of PT and PT-related AT by gender, among those residing close to a metropolitan railway.
Participants of this cross-sectional study were 297 adults (59% female) who worked/studied outside home, residing within 1 km of a railway in Melbourne, Australia in 2012. They self-reported perceptions of PT, travel mode(s) to/from work/study, distance to work/study, frequency of PT trips, duration of PT-related AT, and demographics. Chi-square analyses examined perceptions of PT by gender. Linear regression analyses, stratified by gender, examined these perceptions as predictors of frequency of PT trips/week.
Overall, 46% of men and 39% of women commuted by PT at least once/week. There were no significant differences by gender in PT trip frequency or duration of PT-related AT per week. Women using PT, on average, accrued at least two-thirds of recommended PA/week through PT-related AT (mean 107.3 (SD 96.8) minutes). Significantly higher (p < 0.001) proportions of women agreed they felt unsafe on PT overall (39% women; 20% men) and at night (70% women; 44% men). Men made more PT trips/week if they considered PT to be safe at night (B = 0.93, 95%CI 0.19, 1.68). For women, convenience (B = 0.67, 95%CI 0.17, 1.18), being too crowded (B = 0.90, 95%CI 0.35, 1.44), taking too long to travel (B = ─0.83, 95%CI ─1.36, ─0.31), and cost-effectiveness (B = 0.87, 95%CI 0.24, 1.50) were significantly associated (p < 0.05) with frequency of PT trips/week.
Interventions are warranted to encourage PT travel and AT among women, in particular. Frequent services are required for convenience; fare structures should render PT cost-effective for women.