Road Congestion can be reduced by Job Location

The extensive audit by Infrastructure Australia on road congestion across Australian cities raises the crucial question of where jobs are located, says the Urban Taskforce.

“The Infrastructure Australia audit on road congestion is a wake-up call on the failure of urban planning to influence where jobs are located in cities like Sydney,” says Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson. “Much of the congestion on the seven roads listed in Sydney occurs because of excessive journeys to work.”

“With Sydney’s population predicted to almost double by 2061 road congestion will only get worse unless we get a closer relationship between where people live and where jobs are located. Currently over 200,000 workers who live in Western Sydney must travel to the East to get work. Clearly this clogs the roads for hours in the morning and again in the evening.”

“Enrico Moretti’s recent book ‘The New Geography of Jobs’ explains the dramatic changes that are happening around the world with shifts to the knowledge economy and to the creative industries. These new jobs can be located close to residential precincts and mixed use urban renewal areas can combine clean jobs with apartment living where many people can walk or cycle to nearby work.”

“While major infrastructure road projects will be required as a matter of priority, the more important planning initiative for Australia’s cities will be to minimise car usage through the location of jobs closer to where people live and in encouraging walkable communities and the use of public transport.”

“Clearly the car is here to stay as a family friendly way to move from home to school, to shopping and to visit friends. What is needed is a detailed analysis of what the trips are for and at what time. Initiatives like staggering work hours and staggering school hours can reduce loads and tolling that penalises single drivers can encourage car-pooling.”

“Sydney’s urban footprint cannot grow significantly so doubling the population by 2061 will require some creative thinking to minimise congestion. The answer is unlikely to be to double the width of our roads. As the city becomes more dense, it becomes more important to focus on minimising the need to travel through clever planning decisions. The swing to apartment living where urban densities encourage mixed uses within walking distances is likely to be part of the solution. The proposed Greater Sydney Commission will need to grasp the congestion problem as it sets out the future shape and structure of the city.”

Download PDF Version.