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‘The Infrastructure Boom Cometh.’  That was a headline appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald in early 2018.

The author pointed out the unprecedented investment in Australia in new transportation infrastructure in the face of rapid population growth and rising demand for services, and the fact that its largest state, New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, dominates this investment.

But for all of this, Sydney survey respondents seem to be displaying some impatience with the inevitable gaps between strongly increasing demand on transportation infrastructure and the ability to expand the necessary infrastructure quickly enough. This is a sentiment that is not out of line with other cities included in this report’s Index. The 10,750 people surveyed for the study are generally ‘not very satisfied’ with their cities’ management of infrastructure and related services.

Despite tens of billions of dollars being poured into expanding capacity, Sydney has the third-lowest Index score of the 10 cities, coming above only Chicago and Toronto.

In contrast, the highest score is found in Mumbai where, despite severe challenges,Mumbai rail bridge collapse strands thousands of commuters Mumbai to face power cuts for a week residents believe things are improving in various areas of infrastructure and service delivery.

As the overall index scores by city show, it is not all bad news for city leaders. The main issue is not necessarily the quality of the infrastructure or services provided, but rather cities’ perceived lack of engagement and openness to keeping residents informed and involved in infrastructure improvement projects.  

Overall, the survey respondents appear to be moderately satisfied in all 10 cities with the reliability — and even affordability — of infrastructure and related services.


Scores for satisfaction, engagement, innovation, and resilience are based on a 1–10 scale.

  • 10–7.6

    Very satisfied

  • 7.5–5.1

    Moderately satisfied

  • 5.0–2.6

    Not very satisfied

  • 2.5–1.0



Delivering daily life

When it comes to the services they use most often — electricity, water and public transportation — Hong Kong residents are the happiest of those in our sample. The vast majority in the territory deem their electricity supply, for example, to be reliable. Only 10 percent of respondents there have experienced a power outage more than once in the past year. Nearly two-thirds (63%) in Hong Kong say that the public transportation they use is ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ at getting them where they want to go. Fewer (35%) tell us the same about transport timeliness, but the vast majority (86%) state it is at least acceptable. Riyadh residents are the least positive in the survey on infrastructure quality, although they can still be described as ‘moderately satisfied.’

Reliability : Water electricity and public transportation reliability scores.

A Higher score indicates more favorable responses in terms of fewer reported water and electricity outages, and transport performance and reliability.

  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Transport

Public transportation is viewed as generally reliable in all 10 cities, but that does not make using it any easier for commuters. Whichever form of transportation residents may select, most believe that the experience of traveling on public transportation is growing more, not less, stressful. Within the survey, complaints are loudest about delays. Nearly four in 10 New Yorkers, for example (38%), and three in 10 Torontonians (30%) rate public transportation in their cities as ‘poor’ on timeliness. However, vast majorities in both (86% and 80%, respectively) say the same means of transportation are ‘acceptable’ or better at getting them where they want to go. In the survey overall, half of respondents give a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ grade to public transportation for getting them to their destinations, even if not always on time.

Relatively small numbers report a deterioration in the quality of transportation infrastructure during the past year. That figure is highest, though (28%), when it comes to roads and bridges. Roughly one-third of residents in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, London and Sydney say these infrastructure elements are getting worse, explaining why roads are viewed as the first or second priority for infrastructure improvements in all of these cities. City residents are broadly satisfied with the reliability of their water supply, as they are with their electricity supply. There are, however, significant differences between cities.

For example, water outages or restrictions are a rarity in Singapore, according to nine in 10 respondents there. They are more commonplace in Mumbai, where 67 percent of residents have experienced a restricted supply on three or more occasions in the past year. There are also stark differences in electricity supply. Whereas 91 percent of Singaporeans have experienced one or no outages in the past year, that figure is only 58 percent in Chicago, 52 percent in Los Angeles, 51 percent in Riyadh, 45 percent in Toronto, and 15 percent in Mumbai.

Squeezing household budgets

The cost of infrastructure, and the public services it supports, naturally has an impact on levels of public satisfaction. In all cities, more survey respondents find their public transportation fares to be affordable than unaffordable.

Hong Kong residents are the most likely in the survey to say their water and electricity bills are affordable. Citizens in Riyadh are least likely to say this, and as many as 75 percent of respondents there describe their regular electricity bills as ‘unaffordable.’

This disquiet with electricity tariffs extends more widely: 54 percent in Sydney and 42 percent in Toronto also say their monthly bills are unaffordable. When it comes to public transportation, London has the largest share of respondents (38%) saying that transport fares are unaffordable.

The average frequency in the last 12 months, where respondents have experienced water outages or restricted supply, or loss of electric power to their own neighbours residences

  • Water
  • Electricity
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Londoners want their say

60% agree that using public transport in London is becoming more stressful