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Sydney commute times balloon by up to 60 per cent

People living in 70 per cent of Sydney suburbs have experienced a blowout in commute times over the past five years despite billions of dollars being spent on roads and transport.

A belt of suburbs extending from the city’s west to its south and pockets in the northern suburbs experienced the biggest spike in commute times.

The average trip to work took 22 minutes longer in Rouse Hill, the area with the biggest blowout, last financial year compared to 2013-14, bringing the average journey to an hour and representing a jump of 60 per cent, Transport for NSW’s latest household travel survey has found.

Mathew Hounsell, a researcher at the University of Technology’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, said commute times could be rising because growing population density in many areas is putting additional pressure on road and transport networks.

Singal, Rabe (2020-03-16)

“The road system in Sydney has become saturated and more investment in needed in heavy rail and metro alternatives,” he said.

“If we provide people with a faster, reliable alternative to driving, we’ll get them out of cars and commute times will start to go down to something more reasonable.”

The average distance travelled fell or stayed almost the same for nearly all of the places where commute times fell.

Most notably, the average commute fell by about 6.2 kilometres for those in the Blue Mountains, 2.9 km for those in Fairfield and two kilometres in Auburn and Leichhardt.

Mr Hounsell said people in those areas could be working closer to home or benefiting from new modes of transport such as the inner west light rail extension.

At the same time, the average journey got longer for most of the places where commute times increased.

People in Wyong travelled an average of 7.4km more during their commute last year, those in Pennant Hills and Epping travelled 6km more, and residents of Blacktown, Mount Druitt, Cronulla, Rouse Hill and Merrylands all travelled about 5km more.

Longer commuting distances could be a product of the housing market, with “people travelling further to work so they can get a nice place they can afford”, Mr Hounsell said.

Driving was the most dominant mode of transport, accounting for an average of 44 per cent of all trips last year.

However, there were major differences in preferred mode within Sydney. While driving accounted for 66 per cent of all trips in Dural, it was used in only 15 per cent of trips in Sydney’s inner city and 19 per cent in Marrickville.

Singal, Rabe (2020-03-16)

This was an interesting piece of analysis by Pallavi Singhal.

Citation: Singal, Rabe (2020-03-16)

Pallavi Singhal, Tom Rabe. 2020-03-16, “Sydney commute times balloon by up to 60 per cent”, Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax Media LtdNine Entertainment Co.