EVs in Australia

The Daily Mail posts an article with this needlessly antagonistic headline: How Australian taxpayers will need to spend BILLIONS to transition from petrol and diesel to electric cars (which start at $47k for a VERY basic model) – as the ACT pushes ahead with a BAN on combustion engines by 2035 .

Contra the headline, the article itself is not bad.

My quotes:

Professor Levinson estimated the current infrastructure should be able to handle a market share above 20 per cent, given most cars will be charged at home.

‘This is not going to be a sudden crisis,’ he said. 

Professor David Levinson, an American civil engineer and transportation analyst at the University of Sydney, said the federal government’s lack of commitment to the electric vehicle market was ‘disappointing’.

‘Given the potential abundance of renewables in Australia, this is disappointing, but the government has made few efforts to accelerate EV uptake with tax breaks or higher fuel or petrol car purchase taxes, and the previous government was talking down EVs as recently as the 2019 campaign,’ he said of Mr Morrison’s tenure.  


Professor Levinson said he expects lower cost EVs to enter the Australian market in the coming years.

‘As the price of batteries drop, we would expect lower cost car-sized EVs to enter the market in Australia as they have in other countries. That will naturally increase market uptake,’ he said.

‘Inflation will raise the cost of everything, but the relative higher price of EVs should diminish, and Bloomberg expects a crossover point in a few years when EVs are less expensive that petrol cars.’ 

Professor Levinson believes Australia need to do more to combat the country’s ‘large share of carbon emissions’ and commit to electrifying its roads. 

‘Converting new cars purchases to electric takes out tailpipe emissions. But old cars will remain on the road for years,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘It will take about 20 years to turn over nearly the entire fleet from the point that almost all new cars are EVs (around 2030), without government incentives or mandates.’

Some additional points:

  1. Australia is slow in EV uptake compared to peer nations. Almost all of Norway’s new cars are EVs now (https://cleantechnica.com/2022/05/04/norways-april-ev-market-share-at-84-fleet-share-at-23/).
  2. There are 2600 petrol stations in New South Wales (https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/~/media/EPA/Corporate%20Site/resources/clm/2008552ServStations.ashx) So long as electric vehicle range is similar to petrol vehicle range, we would expect that public charging stations should have a similar number. But EVs have the advantage that they can slow charge at many people’s houses, so there might not need to be quite as many. 
  3. EVs should be defined to include e-bikes, small golf cart sized vehicles, as well as replacements for people’s cars and Utes. So there is already a wide range in price, but yes, as the price of batteries drop, we would expect lower cost car-sized EVs to enter the market in Australia as they have in other countries. (The Kia Soul EV is available in Norway, e.g., though still more expensive than the petrol version in Australia )  And that will naturally increase market uptake. (Inflation will raise the cost of everything, but the relative higher price of EVs should diminish, and Bloomberg expects a crossover point in a few years when EVs are less expensive that petrol cars).
  4. The infrastructure should be able to handle a market share above 20% EVs, most EVs will charge at home, most EV homes will have rooftop solar, and most houses will have batteries. Particularly as more storage for renewables comes online (for example, Snowy 2 begins to come online in 2025), this is not going to be a sudden crisis.
  5. The transition to EVs which will happen despite government policies not because of them. (Though government could make this easier or harder). As the transition continues demand for fuel will drop, so there should be plenty of market supply available, but a government serious about Net Zero would tax fuel at a higher rate than present to lower demand. 

Equilibrium or Imbalance? Rail Transit and Land Use Mix in Station Areas

Recently published:

  • Wang, Yuning, Lu, D, and Levinson, D. (2022) Equilibrium or Imbalance? Rail Transit and Land Use Mix in Station Areas. Transportation. [doi]


Although it is widely reported that rail transit has the potential to encourage higher density development, it remains unclear whether rail transit leads to more mixed urban development across station areas. This article provides rare quantitative analysis of changes in land use mix around the rail transit system in Tianjin, China through an investigation into the spatial effects of a rail transit line which cuts across both highly developed and lessdeveloped areas. By using longitudinal data over a twelve-year period (2004–2016) and by comparing the entropy-based land-use mix index, the study shows that with the operation of rail transit, land use mix has increased in formerly low-mixed station catchments, but the change is not obvious for already highly diverse areas. It also shows that a more balanced development occurs in station areas with higher land use dominance, while the leading functions are intensified in station areas with lower land use dominance. By presenting a clear picture of the spatial distribution and patterns of land use mix changes over time, this article concludes that rail transit leads to more balanced development across different station areas in the context of China’s rapid urbanization. The outcome provides a base for further exploring how the planning of rail transit stations may help tackle the differentiated development in cities.

Keywords Rail transit · Land use mix · Spatial variations · Tianjin

Fig. 3 The land use of M1 in 2016
Fig. 3 The land use of M1 in 2016

Dr. Bahman Lahoorpoor

Bahman Lahoorpoor

Congratulations to Dr. Bahman Lahoorpoor for “satisfying the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney.”

Thesis Title:  “Terraces, Towers, Trams, and Trains : Examining the Growth of Sydney using Empirical Models and Agent-based Simulation

Lead Supervisor: Professor David Levinson.

Abstract: Transport networks and land use are inter-dependent. This joint co-development process of infrastructure and building location is often theorised to be a positive feedback cycle: transport infrastructure produces accessibility that induces land development, which induces transport demand and increases accessibility, increasing the production of transport networks (i.e. inducing supply) and further intensifying land development. In Chapter 2 we investigate the critical elements of this dual connection between land use and transit. Sydney as a good example of a rapidly developing city, had public railway transport services beginning in the 1850s, which facilitated and responded to the development of suburbs. Chapter 3 explains how the historical railway network, including trams and trains, and historical population data are collected and digitised. A series of network characteristic measures and a metric for characterising the population distribution are also presented. In Chapter 4 we test whether trams expanded accessibility relative to buses by comparing the services provided by historical trams, the replaced bus services, and the remaining train and light rail networks. We compare 1925, when the tram system was at its peak, and 2020. In Chapter 5 we investigate the theory of interaction between land use and the transit network. We investigate the direct and indirect links between land development and transit investments using the concept of accessibility. We develop an empirical model to capture the Greater Sydney area’s historical evolution of land use and public transit networks. In Chapter 6 we develop a simulation framework to replicate the growth of railway networks by given exogenous historical evolution in land use. The framework is an iterative process that includes five consecutive components including environment loading, measuring access, locating stations, connecting stations, and evaluating connections.

Publications by Bahman Lahoorpoor include:

  • Lahoorpoor, B. and Levinson, D. (2022) In Search of Lost Trams: Comparing 1925 and 2020 Transit Isochrones in Sydney. Findings, March. [doi]
  • Lahoorpoor, B., Rayaprolu, H., Wu, H., and Levinson, D. (2022) Access-oriented design? Disentangling the effect of land use and transport network on accessibility. Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives. [doi]
  • Lahoorpoor, B., Rayaprolu, H., Wu, H., and Levinson, D. (2022) Prioritizing active transport network investment using locational accessibility. TeMA – Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment (in press)
  • Rayaprolu, H., Wu, H., Lahoorpoor, B., and Levinson, D. (2022) Maximizing Access in Transit Network Design. Journal of Public Transportation. 24. [doi]
  • Wang, Yingshuo, Lahoorpoor, B. and Levinson, D. (2022) The Spatio-temporal Evolution of Sydney’s Tram Network Using Network Econometrics. Geographical Analysis. [doi]
  • Lahoorpoor, Bahman and Levinson, D. (2020) Catchment if you can: The effect of station entrance and exit locations on accessibility. Journal of Transport Geography. 82, 102556. [doi] [full report]

Transportist: August 2022

August 1 is of course best known in the transport community as TRB submission day. I hope everyone got their Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting papers out the door (virtually) and uploaded to the online system with a minimum of fuss. My plan, viruses and governments willing, is to attend in January for the first time since 2020. Maybe I will see some of the 3000 of you there.


[I was more engaged drawing this than just about anything I’ve done recently, I became a transport planner because I thought we would actually get to draw lines on maps. I’m sad that’s hardly part of the job. ]

Sydney FAST 2030: A Proposal for Faster Accessible Surface Transport (FAST).
Sydney FAST 2030: A Proposal for Faster Accessible Surface Transport (FAST).

Compared to comparably-sized cities in North America, Sydney does very well on Public Transport (Transit), with a pre-Covid 26% transit commute share. Compared to cities in Europe or Asia, it does poorly, indicating significant room for improvement. 

Much of that difference has to do with wealth and space. Despite the complaints,  Sydney is rich (money doesn’t grow on trees, but it does grow in rocks), so most families have cars. Sydney is also far less concentrated than cities in Europe or Asia, so distances are more amenable to the automobile and less to public transport, and the accessibility indicators show that.

Still, it’s clear more can be done.

There have been a forest of expired plans for public transport in Sydney. There are more plans still in the works. They almost entirely focus either on Trains (and especially Metros), or on specific lines that a particular party is pushing. But a detailed comprehensive look at the layer below the trains is missing.


See also:



  • Wang, Yingshuo, Lahoorpoor, B. and Levinson, D. (2022) The Spatio-temporal Evolution of Sydney’s Tram Network Using Network Econometrics. Geographical Analysis. [doi]This paper examines the evolution of Sydney trams using network econometrics approaches. Network econometrics extends spatial econometrics by developing weight matrices based onthe physical structure of the network, allowing for competing and complementary elementsto have distinct effects. This research establishes a digitized database of Sydney historical tramway network, providing a complete set of geo-referenced data of the opening and closing year and frequencies by time of day for every line. An autoregressive distributed lag model is specified and reveals that the combination of correlation strength and magnitude of lagged flow change on correlated links is a significant predictor of future tram service. The results indicate that complementary and competitive links play distinct roles in shaping the network structure. A link is more likely to undergo the same structural change highly complementary (upstream or downstream) links underwent previously, where the influence is measured by a combination of correlation strength and link importance, reflected by historical service levels.
  • Wang, Jiaoe, Huang, Jie, Yang, Haoran, and Levinson, D. (2022) Resilience and recovery of public transport use during COVID-19. npj Urban Sustainability 2(18) [doi]To better understand how public transport use varied during the first year of COVID-19, we define and measure travel behavior resilience. With trip records between November 2019 and September 2020 in Kunming, China, we identify people who relied on traveling by subway both before and after the first pandemic wave. We investigate whether and how travelers recover to their pre-pandemic mobility level. We find that public transport use recovered slowly, as urban mobility is a result of urban functionality, transport supply, social context, and inter-personal differences. In general, urban mobility represents a strengthened revisiting tendency during COVID-19, as individual’s trips occur within a more limited space. We confirm that travel behavior resilience differs by groups. Commuters recover travel frequency and length, while older people decrease frequency but retain activity space. The study suggests that policymakers take group heterogeneity and travel behavior resilience into account for transport management and city restoration.
  • When driving near a cycle lane, do you speed up or slow down? Where you’re from may influence your answer from The Conversation, based on: 
    • Loyola Borja, Miguel, Nelson, J., Clifton, G., and Levinson, D. (2022) The relation of visual perception of speed limits and the implementation of cycle lanes – a cross-country comparison. Accident Analysis and Prevention. Volume 174, September 2022, 106722. [doi]




I did a Poll series. My Twitter Followers responses below, and are collectively inconsistent in my view (how can you favor lockdowns and not border quarantines, surely limiting international travel is less restrictive and affects fewer people, with the benefit of keeping the bad stuff out, than restricting local travel) (my answers with asterisk). [Of course, maybe people are interpreting this differently than my mental model of what a lockdown and a border quarantine is.]

Knowing what we know now, covid-19 lockdowns were:

  • The right strategy 82.8%
  • The wrong strategy 17.2% * [Since people suffered so much, it will be hard for them to admit this was the wrong strategy, but given nearly everyone has gotten COVID anyway, I don’t know how we can think otherwise. Obviously some restrictions to slow the spread, etc., but that’s very different from a lockdown.][Yes it would be worse without vaccines, but not everyone is vaccinated now …]

Knowing what we knew then, covid-19 lockdowns were:

  • The right strategy 86.8% * 
  • The wrong strategy 13.2%

Knowing what we know now, covid-19 border quarantines were:

  • The right strategy 54% * 
  • The wrong strategy46%

Knowing what we knew then, covid-19 border quarantines were:

  • The right strategy 69.8% * 
  • The wrong strategy 30.2%

We should at this time have lockdowns to prevent or reduce the spread of covid-19 and influenza

  • Lockdowns now 14.8% 
  • No lockdowns now 85.2% * 

We should at this time close down borders (border quarantines) to prevent or reduce the spread of covid-19 and influenza

  • Border closures now 3.9% 
  • No border closures now 96.1% *


My Public Forum on Traffic Signals is available on the Ecotransit youtube: