Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Household Travel Survey (HTS)?

This survey is the only source of information on the day-to-day travel of people living in the Sydney Greater Metropolitan Area (GMA). This area covers Sydney and surrounds, including the Central Coast and Blue Mountains, and extends to the Hunter region in the north and Illawarra in the south.

The survey collects information about people's day-to-day travel, such as where they go, when they travel, purpose of the trip, modes of transport used, and costs associated with the trip. This is used to generate aggregated data on travel patterns of particular segments of the population.

Why is this survey needed?

The data collected in the survey is essential to gain a complete picture of travel patterns in the Sydney GMA and how they change over time. This information is used extensively in planning decisions including for future infrastructure needs, place design and use of the existing Transport network.

What if I don't travel on the Travel Day?

We are interested in understanding the travel behaviour of everyone selected to take part in the survey. While some people will make a lot of trips, it is just as important for us to know about those who don't travel much, or at all.

We are interested in all types of travel – cars, buses, trains, light rail, planes, taxi, ridesharing, trucks, motorbikes, bicycles and walking.

So, on your travel day, it does not matter whether:

  • you do not go anywhere at all;
  • you only leave the house once or twice; or
  • you make lots of trips.

Please record what actually happened on your travel day, even if this is different to your typical daily routine.

Who is conducting the survey?

Transport for NSW, the state government agency responsible for transport planning for whole of NSW is the owner of the survey and it is conducted by Ipsos on behalf of TfNSW.

How is the survey being run?

The survey is undertaken through in home face-to-face interviews as well as through supplied GPS devices. Everyone in your household will be asked to complete a short survey describing their travel on a single day.  Everyone aged 16 years and over will also be asked to carry a GPS device for 7 days. The GPS device will be provided by the interviewer when you agree to participate in the survey and will be collected by the interviewer at the end of your travel week. Together, the survey interview and GPS provide a representative view of how people’s travel times, routes and activities vary from day-to-day.

Households that are invited to participate in the survey are visited by the field staff from the survey company Ipsos, on behalf of TfNSW, to explain the survey and organise a suitable date and time for the survey interviews to take place.

What will be done with the information that is collected?

The information that is collected from households will be summarised statistically to describe a variety of travel patterns. For example, how many trips are made on average by different types of people, where these trips start and finish, the methods of transport used on these trips, and the time of day the trips are made.

Click here to go to the visualisations section to see how we report the information collected through the survey.

Is the survey compulsory?

The survey is not compulsory, but most households appreciate the opportunity to participate and help us better understand travel patterns from a wider range of people. We rely on your participation to inform future transport infrastructure and services and the additional information on demographics helps us to deliver outcomes that meet specific population needs.

What about the privacy and confidentiality of the data?

All information collected during the survey is confidential and will remain confidential.

Transport for NSW is committed to protecting the privacy of your personal information in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002

Information collected from households is treated with absolute confidentiality, and is merged with information collected from other households, for analysis. No data that allows identification of survey participants will be released.

View the Privacy Notice for the Household Travel Survey (PDF, 128.7 KB). (PDF, 124.53 KB)

You can read here about how Transport for NSW protects your privacy and manages personal information we collect.

How was my household selected for the survey?

Households are selected based on their street addresses. The survey company selects street addresses through a randomisation process, from the Geocoded National Address File (G-NAF), which is a publicly available database of street addresses. Households residing at the selected addresses become prospective survey participants and a letter introducing them to the survey is delivered to them by the field staff. 

What sort of questions will be asked in the survey?

Since this is a travel survey, it will primarily collect travel related information for each household member. This will cover information such as:

  • departure / arrival times for trips you made
  • addresses of the locations you went to (these are needed to determine travel distances)
  • what you did there (this helps us understand travel purpose such as work, education, recreation, etc.)
  • how you travelled, i.e., car, walking, bus, train etc.

The interviewer will also collect generic information about yourself and other household members such as age, gender, work status, type of household, vehicles owned etc. This information helps us understand the demographics of the sample population so we can monitor that we are collecting data from all types of households in the population.  

Go to the next question “Why do you need details of everyone in my household?”

Why do you need details of everyone in my household?

Different people travel in different ways, even within the same household. To get a good picture of the travel by people in your area, the survey needs to get answers from all types of households and people within the household.

This is why, in addition to asking about your travel, we also ask questions about age, gender, occupation, household type and income to make sure we have included all types of people and households in our sample. This information is then combined with those from all other households in the survey to give a complete picture of the day-to-day travel and activities of all people in the community.

The demographic composition of the survey sample is also compared with the results from the Census to ensure that our survey respondents are representative of the broader population.

Why do you want to interview all household members individually?

While household members may have a general idea of regular travel that other members made on their Travel Day, they may not have all the specific details of the trips unless they travelled together throughout the day. For example, you may know that on the Travel Day your partner or spouse went to work and back but may not necessarily know if they stopped for a coffee on their way or about work meetings or other trips they may have made throughout the day. For this reason, it is best that we collect travel details from each household member individually as they are best placed to provide us accurate details. 

Why do you collect information on children?

We know that travel patterns of households can be impacted by commitments around children in the family such as pick up or drop off trips to/from school or childcare, sporting and other academic or extra-curricular activities. 

HTS is currently the only reliable source of travel data for those under 18 years of age. This data is essential to gain a complete picture of travel patterns across different demographics to inform our planning decisions.

Why do you insist on a specific Travel Day?

Each household is assigned a specific Travel Day by the survey team. This ensures we collect data for all days of the week across every area. Travel Days are assigned in the randomisation process and ensures there is no bias in the day of week assigned to households. 

The household is asked to report all travel on this specific day, even if they feel that this day is not "normal" for them (for example, if the trips taken on the assigned Travel Day are more than you would typically take or you didn't travel at all). By having each household report about their specific Travel Day a good average of all the travel days is obtained. 

Why do you ask questions about the vehicles in my household?

We ask a number of questions about the vehicles in your household (including any company or government cars that are parked at your household on the night before your Travel Day) so that we can get an idea of how these vehicles are used. It is important to know what type of vehicles you are using so that we can then estimate things such as the fuel consumption and Greenhouse Gas emissions caused by daily travel patterns.

Why do you want details about my employer and work address?

Individual’s transport needs are linked to where they work and the kind of work they do. The street address of your workplace is collected so we can accurately determine the distances people travel for work. Workplace addresses are converted into geospatial coordinates to calculate distances between work and other destinations and identify trip purposes (if required). We acknowledge that after COVID-19 you may only be working in the office on some days of the week, so if you travelled to work on your travel day, please provide us your work address so we can accurately determine your trip distance. 

Why do you want details of my child’s school/childcare address?

School or childcare addresses are collected so we can accurately determine the distances people travel for education or childcare. 

School or childcare addresses are converted into geospatial coordinates to calculate distances between school and other destinations. 

This information is important to transport planning since travel for education is undertaken regularly and the data will help us determine the transport needs of school children and children who attend childcare. This information is also used to understand the distances that parents travel to pick/drop their children at their place of education/childcare.

How does the GPS device work?

The GPS device is a passive personal activity logger. This means it stores the travel information on the device and sends it to us periodically. It uses the Global Positioning System to record location and enables us to see travel patterns of the person carrying the device.

The GPS device:    

  • does not send data in real time like GPS navigators used in vehicles meaning that the individual cannot be tracked
  • does not store any personal information about the individual carrying the device.

Carrying the GPS device will be taken as consent to receive and store the GPS location information from the device. This information will be kept completely confidential. Please see below question ”How will my GPS data be handled?”

How will my GPS data be handled?

Nobody will have access to your GPS data in real time – data will only be uploaded from your local device once it is plugged into a power source and is not moving. 

All information will be kept strictly confidential and any personally identifiable information (name, address, contact details etc.) will be removed from the published data (including GPS traces) to comply with the Privacy Act and the National Privacy Principles.

Answers to survey questions and your GPS data will not be shared with other household members and the contact details you provide will be used ONLY for the purposes of sending reminders, making follow-up calls and booking appointments for this specific study; it will not be used for any other purpose. 

Transport for NSW and other users will have access to the data ONLY after personally identifiable information is removed.

What if my device gets damaged or lost?

The GPS devices are valuable, and we know that you’ll take good care of them. If they are damaged or lost, don’t worry.

Please contact the Ipsos survey team on 1800 330 225 (free call) or email as soon as possible if you lose or damage a device.