One in four Illawarra rail commuters to Sydney chose to stay home during last week's Catastrophic fire danger rating.
The pattern was similar in other regional areas, where plenty of people stayed away from the rail line.
The Rural Fire Service ranked Tuesday, November 12's fire danger as "catastrophic", with temperatures hitting around 35 degrees.
Data from Transport for NSW show the number of Opal trips made in the morning peak dropped dramatically compared to the previous Tuesday.
On that dangerous day, there were 548 fewer South Coast commuters on the train to Sydney - a drop of 24 per cent from 2225 to 1677.
Newcastle saw a higher drop of 36 per cent - from 3568 down to 2256.
The change on the Blue Mountain line was even more stark, with a whopping 49 per cent drop in commuters, from 1337 to 679.
Rural Fire Service Illawarra district officer Matt Reeves said part of the reason for this drop would have been parents staying home to look after children, following the closure of numerous schools.
But he said it was also a sign people were getting the message about planning around fire dangers.
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"We also talk to people about considering in their bushfire survival plan whether or not they'd be able to get home should a fire occur," Mr Reeves said.
"Obviously, with a lot of the rail line being through bushfire-prone areas, there's a risk on days like that of a fire starting and public transport being shut down.
"That makes it difficult or impossible for them to get back home to meet up with their kids or family.
"It lends itself to the fact that people are taking on board the advice from fire authorities."
Mr Reeves said people should include in their bushfire plan contingencies for what might happen if transport routes were cut off by fire while at work.
"That means they have to prepare for being separated from their family or not being able to get home and defend their property," he said.
"Think about what could happen and how they would deal with that if it did happen, 'if I can't get to school to pick up the kids, where can they go? Who can they spend the afternoon with?'
"'If I'm going to catch public transport to work in the city, do I take an overnight bag because I may not get home if a fire breaks out and I need to stay with friends in the city?'."