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, the purpose of the trip, the modes of transport used and the costs associated with the trip.
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 in planning decisions for future transport infrastructure.
Why are you collecting travel data during COVID-19?
Transport for NSW is aware, and acknowledges, that travel patterns have undergone a change for a vast majority of the population over the past few months due to COVID-19.
For this reason, the Household Travel Survey was suspended during lockdown periods announced by NSW Government. Data collection resumed when the restrictions were eased.
The current survey includes a dedicated section to collect information on the impact of COVID-19 on peoples’ work and travel routines. This information will help us understand changes in travel behaviours and establishment of new travel patterns.
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 also 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 EY Sweeney on behalf of Transport for NSW.
How is the survey being run?
In response to the COVID-19 safety protocols, the survey method for the HTS was changed from face-to-face interviews to telephone interviews from 2020. Households in the Sydney Greater Metropolitan Area are randomly selected by matching street addresses to a telephone database. Selected households are then notified by post that they have been chosen to participate and that an interviewer will phone the household to explain the survey and collect the information via phone interviews with all household members.
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 do these trips come from and go to, what methods of transport are used on these trips, and at what time of day are the trips made.
View 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 and greatly appreciate the information you provide to help inform transport infrastructure and services planning.
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 other households for analysis.
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. Addresses are selected randomly from a list of street addresses obtained from the Global National Address File (GNAF).
Street addresses are then matched to an externally sourced telephone database to ensure the households can be contacted for telephone interviews.
Households residing at these addresses then become prospective survey participants and are sent a letter informing them of the same.
What sort of questions will be asked?
During the first phone call, the interviewer will collect some basic information about your household, such as the type of household and how many people live there. The interviewer will also inform you of your allocated Travel Day and explain how to fill out the Memory Jogger (paper travel diary) on the allocated Travel Day. The interviewer will then arrange a mutually suitable time for the next phone call a few days after your household’s Travel Day to conduct the detailed travel survey with each household member.
During this second phone call the interviewer will collect travel related information for each household member. This will cover information such as:
- depart/arrive times for trips you made
- addresses of the locations you went to (these are needed to determine travel distances)
- what did you do 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 other generic information about you and other household members. 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 child care, 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 garaged 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 work place is collected so we can accurately determine the distances people travel for work. Workplace addresses are converted into geospatial coordinates to compute distances. This information is important to transport planning as a majority of people regularly travel for work.
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. School or childcare addresses are converted into geospatial coordinates to compute distances. 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.