Circular Quay Future Transport Requirements Study

Sydney, Australia

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AECOM was engaged by Transport for New South Wales for a Future Transport Requirements Study as part of the Circular Quay Precinct Renewal Program. The goal of the project was to define existing and future multimodal transportation access and pedestrian-movement requirements to help inform concept planning and design.

Circular Quay is widely recognised as an iconic destination — owing partly to its historical role as the place where the first British colony in Australia was founded, and partly to the presence of two world-famous landmarks, the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.  Circular Quay Station is also now the 10th-busiest station on the Sydney Trains network, whilst Circular Quay itself is the network hub for water transportation in Sydney — with seven major ferry routes, as well as multiple tourist and private cruises stopping there. In future, the precinct will be the northern terminus and interchange for Sydney Light Rail, another iconic AECOM project currently being delivered, and acts as a key attractor and thoroughfare for international and local visitors, creating a vibrant and — at peak times — congested pedestrian environment.

Our Transport Advisory team provided transportation-planning, demand-analysis and pedestrian-modelling services. Problem-solving and collaboration were vital to the project’s success, as Circular Quay is the only location in Sydney where heavy rail, buses, ferries, cruise ships and the future light rail converge to form a true multimodal transport interchange. Our team provided an excellent understanding of the precinct’s user groups, movement patterns and pinch points for a variety of time periods and for different times of year. Complex and dynamic pedestrian movements include commuters catching a ferry and transferring to rail, visitors taking photographs, people attending performances at the Sydney Opera House, and ocean cruise passengers walking with luggage. Our Transport Advisory team was faced with the challenge of modelling all of these uses and creating a holistic baseline of movements, and then forecasting future changes.

We used a range of survey techniques, including observational, video and count surveys, as well as identifying and bringing in a specialist sub-consultant to analyse mobile phone-movement data that provided enhanced intelligence on the nuances of movement patterns such as:

  • The average visit duration across the precinct and within specific sub-areas
  • Visitor flows, including tracking of key paths between origin and destination
  • Seasonal trends, such as the impact of public holidays and festivals
  • The impact of the weather, such as very hot weather and rain.

Using a range of data-capture techniques and mathematical models, we gained a holistic understanding of current patterns of movement and used this to develop spatial requirements across a range of infrastructure elements, including walkways, footpaths and promenades, ferry wharves, rail station platforms, gates and concourses.

This analysis was then used to project future activity, incorporating demographic analysis and forecasting, thereby providing evidence to future-proof the precinct’s master plan. This provided our client, the Government of New South Wales, with invaluable information to enhance Circular Quay not only as a must-visit destination for tourists to Sydney, but also as a vibrant, exciting and enjoyable space for Sydneysiders.