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Australia Covid live news update: Victoria reports 1,965 new cases and five deaths; Dominic Perrottet to give NSW update at 10.10am | Australia news

Australia’s aversion to public transport is expected to continue for a while yet despite the looming promise of a post-pandemic return to normality, AAP reports.

Sydney’s train, bus and ferry patronage plummeted to levels not seen in more than a century as Delta outbreak restrictions were launched in July.

In Melbourne, researchers believe public transport uptake might permanently struggle to exceed 80% of pre-Covid levels again.

While hardly good news for future commute times or the environment, the trend has been a boon for the parking industry or, at least, a niche within it.

Parkhound, a platform which connects 100,000 drivers with parking hosts Australia-wide, has enjoyed a 110% bookings increase this lockdown compared to those last year.

It has also signed on more than 200 new “commercial partner spaces”.

They include those offered by the Grand Hyatt Hotel Group in Melbourne’s CBD. With 550 rooms empty that would normally be full, the chain has decided to reduce overheads by listing its undercover car spots.

Mariners Court in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo would usually have 100% occupancy this time of year but is at 15%, prompting manager Donna Blackie to similarly rent out car spaces at $320 a pop and planning to list more.

Parkhound founder Michael Rosenbaum says interest is high in Brisbane and other cities too.

“Businesses operating in the city centres have been slammed – a lot are looking at what they can do to cut back on some of their costs,” he told AAP.

“An extra $5,000 or 10,000 a month can make a big difference. We’re also fielding a lot of enquiries from commuters renting out those parking spots.”

While workers in NSW and Victoria are beginning to figure out what at least a partial return to office life will look like, the reality is many will want to do so via the relative safety of their own vehicle.

Even in Queensland, the state government has had to resort to enticing commuters with “Golden Go Cards” as it tries to drive up public transport patronage.

The Australasian Railway Association says passenger numbers did grow in the first three months of the year compared to Q4 2020 but overall, remain 48% lower than before the pandemic.

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