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It’s taking longer for Canberrans to get to work, according to new data

Lachlan Roberts 30 July 2019 94

Move along: Canberrans spent 52 minutes travelling to and from work each day in 2017. File photo.

It’s taking longer for Canberrans to travel to and from their workplace as new data shows commute times have seen a staggering increase over the past decade.

According to the Melbourne Institute’s latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, Canberrans’ average weekly commuting time has increased by 20 minutes since 2002.

In 2002, it took ACT workers on average 31.3 minutes to commute to and from work each day. That figure has now increased to 51.5 minutes in 2017.

Sydney (71.1 minutes), Brisbane (66.7 minutes) Melbourne (65.4 minutes), Perth (59.3 minutes) and Adelaide (56.3 minutes) had longer commute times than the ACT in 2017.

Workers in the Northern Territory had the shortest commutes in 2017, averaging close to 34.7 minutes per day.

While travel time in the major capital cities only experienced about a 20 per cent increase over the past 15 years, the ACT has seen a staggering 64 per cent increase, the highest in the nation.

Work commute times in the ACT peaked in 2014 at 55.3 minutes but dropped 3.8 minutes over the next three years.

New Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel believes the increase in commute times reflects Canberra’s rapid growth over the past 15 years and said the data was recorded before the new public transport network.

“The figures from the HILDA survey show that commute times have been steady since about 2011 at about 50 minutes round trip between work and home,” Mr Steel said.

“Since this survey was undertaken several major road upgrades have been completed with an introduction of the light rail system. As our city grows, the Government is building a better public transport network to keep Canberra moving.

Mr Steel said the increase in commute times reflects Canberra’s rapid growth over the past 15 years. Photo: George Tsotsos.

“The ACT Government remains committed to delivering a mix of public transport and active travel initiatives that support Canberrans to make sustainable travel choices.

“The ACT Government is also committed to road improvements and upgrades that support those who need to commute by private vehicle.”

The ACT Government monitors journey times on the major road network in near real-time using a Bluetooth journey time system Addinsight, which Mr Steel said helps the Government to manage congestion to “ensure future commute times are reliable”.

Mr Steel said a number of current and recent duplication projects since the survey was completed will lower travel times, including the Cotter Road duplication, Ashley Drive duplication, stage one of Gundaroo Drive duplication, Horse Park Drive duplication and Coppins Crossing Road duplication.

Mr Steel also expects the ACT Government’s new road projects will also improve Canberrans’ commute times, including the new 6.4-kilometre corridor connecting Gungahlin and Belconnen duplication, which includes new on-road cycle lanes between Ginninderra Drive and the Barton Highway.

The Government also has plans for the duplication of Athllon Drive to add more lanes in each direction, replacing the bottleneck intersection on the Monaro Highway, as well upgrade intersections on Southern Cross Drive and Starke Street, Belconnen Way and Springvale Drive, Kent Street and Novar Street, and Launceston Street and Irving Street.

Daily commuting times have increased across Australia. Graph credit: The Conversation.

The survey, based on interviews with around 17,000 working Australians aged 15 years and older, analysed trends in commuting times in Australia over the 15 year period and the distance between a person’s place of residence and their place of work, including those who work from home.

Average daily commuting times across Australia have increased from 48.8 minutes in 2002 to 59.9 minutes in 2017.

The survey found that Australian workers averaged 3.7 hours’ commuting time per week in 2002, which increased to 4.5 hours by 2017, despite the fact that nearly 28 per cent of workers live and work in the same postcode and nearly 55 per cent of workers live within 10 kilometres of their place of work.

The survey found that though workers in cities may live relatively close to their workplace and may have more transport options, traffic congestion, urban expansion and poor public transport services would have influenced the increase in travel times.


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94 Responses to It’s taking longer for Canberrans to get to work, according to new data
noid noid 10:07 pm 03 Aug 19

The government were very clear in their priorities in regards to transport investment and private car transport is low on the list. Walking, cycling, bus, light rail and cars so not surprised.

Mick Bayley Mick Bayley 4:57 pm 03 Aug 19

Wayne Bayley Saban Petrovici

Traffic is bad up here

    Saban Petrovici Saban Petrovici 4:59 pm 03 Aug 19

    Mick Bayley I love the photo they put up also. I counted 30 cars! Crazy congestion.

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 10:43 am 02 Aug 19

“No large metropolitan areas have enough infrastructure to transport everyone who wants to move during peak hours simultaneously; nor do they have enough resources to build it. Hence some travellers must wait until others have moved. That waiting constitutes traffic congestion.” (Anthony Downs – Brookings Institute). Simply adding lanes for cars is like letting out your belt and calling this your weight-loss program.

Nell Feneck Nell Feneck 6:00 am 02 Aug 19

My commute is 25-30 minutes in peak times or in off peak times - beautiful views of the mountains as I’m driving - I love my commute

Shahzad Ahmed Shahzad Ahmed 1:27 am 02 Aug 19

Excessive population growth in Canberra and not enough infrastructure to keep up with the growth is the reason for all these. Gungahlin is the second fastest growing region in the country. Land is being released and new suburbs are being build rapidly, but infrastructure is the last thing to consider, only after a lot of revenue has been generated after selling all the land and through parking fees and parking tickets and taxes and after the daily sufferings of people for years.

Alyssa Dunn Alyssa Dunn 11:54 am 01 Aug 19

Zaen Alsweity.. how's your commute time feeling (cc: Finnegan)

greensareliars greensareliars 10:58 am 01 Aug 19

“The Government also has plans for the duplication of Athllon Drive to add more lanes in each direction”
What a huge waste of money. They are talking about duplicating Athlon Dr South of Sulwood Dr and claim this will shorten commuting times. The issue has always been the intersection and the cars travelling West of Sulwood meaning that people travelling North of Athlon have to wait for a break. It is 2 lane into the roundabout already and if it only allows (say) 2 cars every 4 seconds to travel through the roundabout, and the cars are arriving at 4 cars every 4 seconds there is going to be a queue. Making the road you wait on 2 lanes wide rather than 1 will only mean you wait next to someone, the time you have to wait till you can go through the roundabout is exactly the same.
All this money for congestion that lasts all of 15 minutes anyway………

Mark Shenton Mark Shenton 6:04 am 01 Aug 19

My job has very flexible hours so I never have to deal with peak hour traffic. Roos though...

Gillian Lefrancois Gillian Lefrancois 8:16 pm 31 Jul 19

we changed our business hours to open at 10am, and cut our commute time in half

Ches Boothman Ches Boothman 4:42 pm 31 Jul 19

Go live in Sydaney 🤪

carpediem carpediem 2:35 pm 31 Jul 19

While were on the subject; a good example of a perfectly fine road ruined by Roads ACt is Drake Brockman Drive at the back of Holt. It used to be a nice wide road with ample room to turn off without impacting the traffic; and it was also 80 kms where there are no adjacent driveways. But now they’ve improved it – its 60 kms the whole way (uncessesary in my opinion) and narrowed to 1 small lane that doesn’t allow overtaking of vehicles turning left or buses stopping frequently (which stops the entire line of traffic to a crawl most afternoons). A major value project with no obvious benefits.

    JC JC 6:14 pm 01 Aug 19

    Ever thought the reason they narrowed it and slowed it down was because of the frequently stopping buses?
    But intersections there was space to make dedicated turning lanes though.

rationalobserver rationalobserver 9:02 am 31 Jul 19

We moved to Canberra to get away from over population and congestion; seems like we just delayed it. Wonder how much time is wasted driving around looking for a car park in Civic? And before the cyclists start crowing, not everyone is able to ride or catch public transport.

    JC JC 11:58 am 31 Jul 19

    In all seriousness you (and everyone else who has moved here) are the reason why the commute times have increased! It is what happens when a city grows.

    New suburbs are built that a further out which increases average commute times. New suburbs further out also creates congestion on existing roads. I know many would say expand those roads but realistically that isn’t an option as a certain level of congestion is allowed for in road design and our main roads are nowhere near that point just yet even though they do get busier.

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 5:32 pm 31 Jul 19

    We moved here a long time ago, when peak hour was said to be when you were not in the front row at the traffic lights. Me thinks that altered bus timetables, road works for the toy train and light phasing to accommodate it, on road cycle paths, and more traffic lights have made a bigger difference than we have. Don’t forget it is ACT government policy to discourage personal motor vehicle use at every opportunity, and that comes at a cost of inconvenience and time.

    ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 10:45 am 02 Aug 19

    The car parks in the Canberra Centre are never full.

Phwoa Phwoa 8:28 am 31 Jul 19

There is no magic solution to allow people to commute one person per car.
Needs more incentive like increased parking costs, pay as you go rego and more transport options.
A lot of this problems can be fixed with more motorbikes or cyclists.
Everybody’s quick to blame the government but congestion falls right into the hands of the driver.

    BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 7:59 pm 01 Aug 19

    It could be argued that the increase in commute times is due to more people cycling. The cycling time is generally much greater than that for driving, but also the changes to road rules to accommodate them, such as dropping speed limits by 10 and 20 kph and removing or narrowing lanes etc has increased commute times for motorists.

    As a result traffic density has actually increased in greater proportion to any increase in population.

Harper Pirsig Harper Pirsig 7:12 am 31 Jul 19

Der, population growth which is uncontrolled!

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 2:04 pm 02 Aug 19

    Harper Pirsig worse than uncontrolled: the government actively encourages population growth.

Michael Roy Michael Roy 6:15 am 31 Jul 19

30 or 45 minutes for me depending on which bike I ride. If for some reason I can't ride the buses take 60 to 90 mins.

Cycling is the most consistent commute time you can get and only likely to decrease as fitness increases or as proper bike infrastructure is built (but my commute hasn't seen the later in many many years).

Chris Radnedge Chris Radnedge 12:08 am 31 Jul 19

People driving without an intact nervous system is part of the problem. Especially in gungahlin.

I didnt get the memo btw... that driving without lights on at night is now optional.

If you are in the right lane and people up your ass... stop being ‘that guy’ and actually move aside for people with better driving skills than you can get past you. I thought that was obvious... but apparently not.

David Lindsay David Lindsay 10:24 pm 30 Jul 19

It must be all the cyclists 🙄

Chris Kafer Chris Kafer 10:20 pm 30 Jul 19

More and more people doing the typical Canberra thing of staying in the right lane when driving above 80 and not over taking. I do 600ks a week to work and back, it's the main thing I see.

    Bek Clark Bek Clark 1:58 pm 31 Jul 19

    20 penalty units for that. Increasing your speed while being overtaken is also an offence - also 20 PU. That's quite the popular one among ACT drivers, especially on the Barton or the Clyde. I've never known a single driver ever to have been charged with either.

    Chris Kafer Chris Kafer 3:06 pm 31 Jul 19

    Bek Clark what's a penalty unit sorry? I drive the Barton to work each day. Drives me wild when people speed up, or caravanners don't pull over for a few minutes to let the stream of cars behind pass.

Jeffrey Brown Jeffrey Brown 9:59 pm 30 Jul 19

I wonder if the amount of road accidents that cause delays have been accounted for....🤔

Andrew Webber Andrew Webber 9:46 pm 30 Jul 19

"Traffic, you say? Cool story" said everyone who has ever lived in Melbourne.

    David Lindsay David Lindsay 10:23 pm 30 Jul 19

    Andrew Webber or Sydney...

    Scarlett Butler Scarlett Butler 11:14 pm 30 Jul 19

    Andrew Webber yep, used be a 2 hour drive to work in Sydney. Canberra is a breeze

    Harper Pirsig Harper Pirsig 7:17 am 31 Jul 19

    Andrew Webber why would we want Canberra to turn into a Melbourne or Sydney population swamp?

    Julie Maynard Julie Maynard 5:27 pm 31 Jul 19

    Andrew Webber shhh...stop telling everyone how good it is here! 😀

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