NSW government statistics show that when it comes to inner Sydney commuters, the northern suburbs of Wollongong are the most densely packed in the region.
According to the NSW government’s Bureau of Transport Statistics, between Stanwell Park and Thirroul 10per cent of the working population travel to the Sydney central business district for work.
This is the same region hit hardest by the government’s new rail timetable, with most stations losing direct services in the morning and evening peaks.
Some stations, such as Austinmer, will see direct services slashed from five to just one, with commuters forced to catch a local service from Helensburgh.
The next highest concentration of inner Sydney commuters is the strip from Bulli to Bellambi, where 5per cent of working residents make the trip north.
Yet this is another area that will lose direct services when the timetable is introduced on Sunday.
Combined, these suburbs make up 37per cent of all inner Sydney commuters on the South Coast. Yet they are also the suburbs most disadvantaged by the new timetables, with other suburbs further south seeing more direct service or shorter travel times.
The percentage of workers travelling to Sydney declines the further south you go. The area from Tarrawanna to North Wollongong has 4per cent working in Sydney.
In the suburbs surrounding Wollongong station, 3per cent of workers travel to Sydney every day.
In the entire Port Kembla-Dapto area – including suburbs like West Dapto and Horsley – just 2per cent are Sydney workers and in Shellharbour-Kiama it’s a paltry 1per cent.
A look at the numbers is more surprising. The suburbs surrounding Wollongong station, often thought of as being popular with Sydney commuters, actually attract slightly fewer than the Stanwell Park-Thirroul area – 635 to 637.
Despite this, there are more services stopping at Wollongong in the morning peak and faster services in the evening, than in the region’s north.
Some readers have suggested the suburbs south of Wollongong contain the bulk of Sydney commuters.
Yet the entire Port Kembla-Dapto area contains just 28 more Sydney CBD commuters than those northern suburbs.
The new timetable has been a source of frustration for many, with a number of Illawarra commuters venting their frustrations on the Mercury’s website.
‘‘As a Woonona resident, its a disaster,’’ wrote Platform Boredom.
‘‘Waiting around at Thirroul seems to be the theme. What a joke. I don’t mind changing trains, but the huge wait is a massive backward step.
‘‘If I was a lecturer in transport planning for first year students and one of my students gave me this timetable as an assignment I would give them an ‘F’. The department has a lot to answer for on this one.’’
Olly, however, claimed the southern stations were more popular than those in the north.
‘‘On the 5.12pm train from Central we currently stop at Stanwell Park for about six passengers at most,’’ they wrote.
‘‘The same at Austinmer. There would be closer to 60 people get off the same train at Oak Flats let alone Unanderra and Dapto. It will not kill people at Austi to park at Thirroul if they don’t want to swap trains.’’
Unhappy Commuter bemoaned the loss of time spent with their family: ‘‘I will have to catch a train 15 minutes earlier and a train home two minutes later.’’