No tie between population, commutes: study

(Australian Associated Press)


Claims population growth in Australia’s major cities is leading to longer commute times are untrue, new research shows.

A Grattan Institute study found average commuting distances and times barely increased over the five years to 2016, even though the populations of Sydney and Melbourne grew by some of the highest rates in the developed world.

But congestion was a problem, leading to overcrowded public trains, buses and trams and delays for drivers using “bad” routes.

The research found migration had not brought cities to a standstill, despite calls for Australia’s intake to be cut to address congestion.

Cities have coped even though major new projects including Melbourne Metro, WestConnex in Sydney, and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail have not yet been completed.

“So far, the impact of rapid population growth on commuting distances and times has been remarkably benign, despite regular media coverage claiming the opposite,” the report says.

“The average commute distance barely increased over the five years to the most recent Census in 2016, and there has been little or no change in the duration of commutes.”

Grattan Institute transport program director Marion Terrill said state governments should follow the ACT’s lead in phasing out stamp duty, which is a barrier to people moving house.

She called for Sydney and Melbourne to introduce congestion charges to encourage drivers who don’t need to travel at peak times to stay off the worst-affected roads.

“With these changes, the benefits that draw people to live and work close together can outweigh the congestion and crowding that trigger demands to shut new people out,” Ms Terrill said.


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