Peak Hour Driving Sucks, And Always Has

Feel like you're moving really slowly when you head to work in the morning? Chances are you're right. Figures on Sydney traffic speeds reveal the average speed of travel on major routes in the mornings is just 29 kilometres per hour -- less than half the allowed speed limit.

Picture by State Records NSW

A report by the Auditor-General to the NSW Parliament outlines the travelling speed on seven major Sydney roads during the morning and afternoon peaks. Here's the data:

There are two big lessons from these figures (and the principles would likely apply in other Australian cities as well):

  • Afternoon travel speeds are much faster. This is a well-recognised transport phenomenon: times for leaving work tend to be more staggered than the must-be-there-by-9am morning rush.
  • These speeds have sucked for a while. Though several of the surveyed routes have seen drops in overall speed between 2011 and 2010, the figures back in 2007 aren't notably better.

So what can you do? Avoid travelling in the mornings if you can -- once you hit the school-hours rush, there'll be no help for it. Share your other transit tips in the comments.



    Ride a bike

      If there were more dedicated bike paths, or if drivers weren't so hostile to cyclists (so that driving on the road could actually be safe), this might be doable.

      I know its petty, but cycling past hundreds of gridlocked cars is really satisfying.

      That's balanced out a bit by the way cars keep trying to run you down, but a near-death experience wakes you up pretty effectively in the morning.

    One day, probably not in my lifetime, the world will wake up from the rigid working hours of the Industrial Age and we'll be telecommuting, business will be conducted 24 hours a day and performance tracking will have more to do with actual outcomes than with how much of the day you spend at your desk.

    In the meantime, I take public transport. Do those numbers include speeds for public transport (buses)? Is there a way to separate this, or otherwise acquire it?

      One day we'll have flying cars and rocket packs.

      I'm already on the telecommuter wagon and recently bought a house FURTHER from Melbourne's CBD on the Mornington Peninsula, something I would never have done if I was required in the office every day.

      Telecommuting has allowed the company I work for to rent a smaller office in a prime location, close to customers, and the employees get have the flexibility to better balance work and family life.

    You what else sucks? Peak hour public transport and outdated infrastructure. I get off at South Yarra station at 8:30 and there's always at least 100 people trying to get in/out using 6 gates. Add to that the people who need to force their way through to change platforms or buy food.

    Never forget...
    You're not "stuck in traffic"...
    You ARE traffic !!!

    For me, it's audiobooks and podcasts that keep me sane during my trafficky commute.

      "You’re not “stuck in traffic”…
      You ARE traffic !!! "

      Excellent point!

      +1 on podcasts and audio books too. (and stand up comedy)

    If I had my time again, I would never live in a large city.
    The pollution and stress of commuting consumes you and eventually kills you.

    According the the Cyclemeter app on my iPhone, I average 24kmh on my 20km commute, so slightly slower than those gridlocked cars.
    So much more satisfying to cycle though!

    Is this the latest 'no shit sherlock' post of the day? Seriously Gus, this was already reported quite extensively in the major fairfax newspapers yesterday, but I like your attempt to find a story in it. Your angle, which illustrates the actual speeds on different roads is pretty good. But still, how about some further analysis in these reports, like what public transport alternatives or bike lanes?

    Congestion charges for the CBD. So many BMWs and Mercs with only the driver sitting in the car clogging up the roads in Sydney's CBD every damn morning. It's frustrating. Get them off the roads and onto a bus and you'd quickly alleviate some of the problems.
    The best tip is to catch a bus and live in an area that has a direct bus lane to where you're headed OR live near rail line or use the rail. They're generally the best options.

      It is not always viable to "Get on a bus or a train".

      I live near a train station, however it is not on the same train line that my office is located on... so a 2 hour train trip is my alternative to a 45 minute drive.

      I think i'll drive.....

    It should be obvious to anyone who's lived in a big city for more than a few months that you'd have to be completely insane/irresponsible/selfish/wasteful to drive to work on a regular basis.

    I'd love to "train-it" to my place of work... but for me it would involve 2+ hours each way train travel and three different trains.... coupled with a 3km walk in the morning to station, then a 2km from nearest station to work, then rinse-and-repeat on the way home. So yeah... I drive.... I'm part of the problem.

    I take my dog for a walk around the block, and in peak hour traffic, I can walk faster then the cars move on a certain stretch of road.

    Where I have to go every morning, it's a 15 min car trip, 10 minute bike ride. Go figure that out.

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