Congestion charges should be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne – new report

A new report from the Grattan Institute suggests that, with their populations growing strongly, both cities could face traffic gridlock in the future unless action is taken to manage congestion.A new report from the Grattan Institute suggests that congestion charges should be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne.

Stuck in traffic? Road congestion in Sydney and Melbourne warns that, with their populations growing strongly, both cities could face traffic gridlock in the future unless action is taken to manage congestion.

The report’s findings are based on an examination of 3.5 million Google Maps trip-time estimates across more than 350 routes over six months of this year.

It found that commutes to the CBD can take more than twice as long as the same trips in the middle of the night.

The report recommends congestion charges in the most congested central areas of each city, including a “CBD cordon” congestion charge, similar to London’s, for Melbourne.

According to a statement from Grattan Institute, the cordon could cover Hoddle Street to the east, Royal Parade to the west, City Road and Olympic Boulevard to the south, and Alexandra Parade to the north, with motorists charged when they drive across the cordon into the city during peak periods.

People who pay the charge would get a quicker and more reliable trip, because there would be fewer cars on the road at peak times. People who can travel outside of the peaks would not have to pay, because there would be no congestion charge when the roads are not congested.

The report also suggests that to make clear that the new charges are to help manage traffic flows rather than boost revenue, the money raised should be used to fund a discount on vehicle registration fees and improvements to the train, tram, ferry and bus networks.

Likewise, it recommends that Melbourne’s CBD parking levy should be doubled, to match Sydney’s and to further discourage city commuters from driving to work, and public transport fares in both cities should be cut during off-peak periods, to encourage people to shift their travel to times when the trains, trams and buses are not overcrowded.

The report dismisses the idea that new city freeways are the answer to road congestion.

The statement also read that roads are important for areas of new growth or substantial redevelopment, but close to the city centres it is often more effective and always cheaper to invest in smaller-scale engineering and technology improvements such as traffic-light coordination, smarter intersection design, variable speed limits and better road surfaces and gradients.

“Don’t listen to the politicians who tell you big new roads will be ‘congestion busters’,” says Grattan Institute Transport Program Director Marion Terrill.

“You can’t build your way out of congestion.

“We need more sophisticated solutions. Some of the great cities of the world have successful congestion pricing schemes, including London, Stockholm and Singapore.

“For Sydney and Melbourne, congestion pricing would deliver city-wide benefits: not only reducing the amount of time we spend stuck in traffic, but also funding better public transport and a cut to car registration fees.”

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