Waiting for the 3.16pm train from Towradgi, George Broadfoot was the exception that proved the rule.
The Wollongong High School teacher had sprung a flat on his bicycle riding home to Bulli, and made a diversion to Towradgi train station for the last leg home.
Normally, Mr Broadfoot would take the train once a fortnight, sometimes to get to Sydney, other times to take his students out on an excursion, but like the vast majority of workers in the Illawarra, uses a method other than public transport to get to work.
And nowhere is that more pronounced than at Towradgi.
Analysis of Transport for NSW Opal data, conducted by the Illawarra Mercury, has found the station only three stops from Wollongong is the most under-utilised station in the region.
Using ABS kilometre grid population data, Towradgi had the fewest number of tap-on and tap-offs relative to how many people live in the same square kilometre of the station.
This was followed by Cringila and Bellambi.
At the other end of the scale, Helensburgh, Unanderra and Coniston were all equally overused, compared to the number of people living in the same square kilometre, followed by Dapto and Kiama.
The data raises questions about the way that the Illawarra uses its transport spine, as drivers bear the brunt of overcrowded roads and fewer residents take public transport compared to prior to COVID.
Overall patronage was highest at those stations that are served by express services, namely Wollongong, North Wollongong and Thirroul.
Kiama and Dapto were the next most popular stations for Illawarra residents to begin and end their journey, beating out Helensburgh.
Austinmer, however, which is served by one Sydney bound express service in the morning and one Wollongong-bound express service in the evening, saw fewer passengers tap on and off than Bulli, Corrimal, Woonona and Fairy Meadow, even though those stations had no express services.
Prior to the pandemic, Austinmer had roughly the same number of tap-on and offs as Fairy Meadow, however by October this year had 1130 fewer patrons, indicating more workers in Austinmer were able to work from home or were otherwise able to avoid the train.
These figures may lead transport bureaucrats to rethink current timetables, which Illawarra Rail Fail executive member Harris Cheung said rated a 5/10.
"For example at Bulli, they have to go back one station to Thirroul or they have catch a six-station train to North Wollongong," he said.
"That just doesn't make sense."
South of Wollongong, the relative popularity of stations such as Dapto, Unanderra and Coniston, compared to the immediately surrounding population highlighted the importance of these hubs for commuters who drive to the station, or catch public transport to connect to the train service, and the strong demand for existing services.
Some of the least utilised train stations were on the Port Kembla spur line, but with BlueScope planning to turn its excess lands adjacent to these stations into employment hubs, this may change.
The importance of the train network during major events can also be seen in the tap on and off data for September 2022. During the month of UCI, patronage at Fairy Meadow spiked to unprecedented levels, along with similar jumps in Bulli, Corrimal and Woonona.
With planners targeting increasing density around existing stations, the relative underperformance of stations such as Towradgi and Bellambi shows that unless coupled with frequent, fast services, commuters are still likely to prefer other modes of transport.
"If we really want to have less private vehicles on the road, we need to target suburbs that currently have or are close to an express station," Mr Cheung said.
But if the experience of one of the only other travellers to get off at Towradgi station on Monday afternoon was anything to go by, perhaps those in the Illawarra should be thankful for what they have.
Deb Wood, travelling to Wollongong from Pambula and using the train for the first time in decades, gave the network a tick of approval.
"We only had the one trip, but it seems alright."
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