Four-Hour 'Peak Hours' For Traffic Make A Nonsense Of The Term

Peak hour traffic is a major nuisance, and one way to combat that is to try and schedule commuting outside those busy periods. But how is that possible if peak hour runs for more than four hours?

Picture by Justin Cozart

Figures suggest that the morning peak of traffic on Sydney's M4 between Clyde and Concord runs between 0535 and 0950 in the morning. In other words, if you want to dodge the worst of that traffic, you'll have to leave home at 5am or not bother until 1000. I'm all for early starts, but that seems ridiculous.

The notion of a "peak hour" is questionable in a few ways; as well as the predictable rush of people heading to work between 0730 and 0800 in most cities, there's often an even nastier burst of traffic as parents drop their kids at school. Fixed hours for the latter make it unlikely to ever disappear as an issue.

Aside from travelling earlier or later, what strategies do you use to avoid peak-hour traffic? Share your strategies in the comments.

Sydney peak hour…..uh…day [The Project]


    Easiest way to avoid the traffic, don't work in the city. i drive the opposite way to the traffic every morning and make it to work within 15 minutes most days. makes me smile when i see everyone sitting in grid lock while i drive past at the normal speed limit.

    I ride sometimes and stupid as it sounds, my best time riding almost coincides with a below average time driving home (and there is still room for me to improve my time riding to/from work). Where I work is 26km from home.

    Don't drive a car to work. Simple as that.

    After dealing with 2hr commutes in Sydney for years I decided that spending 25% of my waking life getting to and from work was a mugs game.

    I now live a 30 minute walk or 10 minutes cycle to work.

    If it takes more than 30 minutes to get to work, by any method, either move or change jobs.

      Not everyone has that choice champ.

        Of course people have a choice.
        You can choose to change a job for a different lifestyle.
        People choose to stay in 2 hour traffic because they dont prefer other option.
        Its still a choice !!

    Move to Adelaide

      Hehe. Shh don't share my secret spot

        Heh, I left Sydney for Launceston; and gained about 15 hours per week of my life back.

    I decided that the extra 5-10 hours a week I save by living very close to work (and therefor walking) offsets the higher price I pay to live very close to the city. Not for everyone, but for me it made sense. No car or fuel costs, plus the added benefit of all that extra time to either work harder at work or work harder at play.

    I moved exactly a 5 minute walk from work (in Sydney). I do drive in Sydney traffic and don't enjoy it, but when I do I get paid for it :)

    Take the bus. A lot of drivers complain that bus lanes cause some traffic congestion as they take up a lane that otherwise cars could use, which is a fair point. But on the flipside, each person riding the bus represents (approximately) one less car on the road. Plus we get to our destination faster and cheaper; and even if the bus does get stuck in traffic I can turn to my phone or Kindle for some recreation instead of having to pay attention to the road. Either way, the time flies. ^_^

      I lol'd at the "cheaper" part.

      At one point I calculated how much it would cost me to drive to work, and compared it to public transport. Even after including all costs, such as insurance, regular maintenance and depreciation, driving was still cheaper than public transport. Plus, it was 40min a day quicker. Guess which option won out?

      (The vehicle in question was a large car, not an econobox.)

    Public transport. Still takes just as long, but I can spend that time playing video games instead of sitting in traffic.

    ban the school drop off- kids should either walk/cycle/PT to school. If driving is necessary, parents should have to get a special permit.

    Walking busses sound like a great idea. Wish there were more of them.

    Live in Adelaide.

    Our peak half-hour is just...brutal.

    As a mate who lived in mareeba qld (pop: 8k) once said, "sorry I'm late, there was a car at the roundabout"

    It's a similar situation in Brisbane, QLD. Morning peak hour has vastly improved thanks to upgrades on Coronation Drive and the Pacific Highway, but evening traffic is still insane. Three times a week some muppet will break down/prang on the Captain Cook bridge and bring traffic to a standstill. There's great public transport infrastructure but it's unreliable; the arrive/depart times are considered a loose guideline; okay in the evening but it's not fun sitting at the bus/train station nervously looking at your watch every morning. Busses arive late, trains arive early and leave you stranded for half an hour.

    My solution was to buy a motorbike. The highway has a carpool/transit lane that allows motorbikes, motorbikes get free parking in the inner city, and cars DRINK petrol crawling through traffic. It seemed dumb to me not to.

      Bought a motorbike last year, haven't caught a train since July. Should have done it years ago!

      "There’s great public transport infrastructure"

      No, no there isn't.

      I come in on the Bruce/Gateway every morning and it's stuffed, in good traffic my trip only takes a half hour but in morning peak (from 6.30 to about 9am) it can easily double.

      On the way home it's never as bad though because the hold up in the afternoons occurs at that woeful Nudgee Rd exit!

      The Gateway Nth needs extra lanes (which it's getting) and better on ramps - ie: on ramps with their own dedicated lane because people in Brisbane cannot merge!

    I saw a sign in Chatswood on Archer St. Forget about Peak Hout what about Peak Day!

    B[us] LANE
    3:30PM - 6:30PM
    8:30AM - 4:00PM

    Early 5AM....EARLY STARTS!!! I'm up at 4!! I work at 7 and I'm home at 5.30. Sure, I live nearly 2 hours from work (by car then by train), but without traffic, I'd be just over an hour away.

    And the moving into the city thing? It costs me $150 (and 4 hours a day mind you) to get to work a week. Find me a decent 1 bedroom apartment for that in Sydney and I'll move.....

    Seven_tech, mate, is 1000 waking hours of your life (4 x 5 x 50) per year really not worth paying extra for?

    How I attacked the peak hour travel dilemma: I changed jobs. Not for one closer to where I live, but for one that understands the concept of flex time is much more than "You can start any time between 7:30 and 8:30, and if you want to start at 8:30, we REALLY mean 8:30, not 8:32, or else. And we expect you to use a half hour for lunch, and thus leave no later than 4pm for 7:30 arrivals and 5pm for 8:30 arrivals." IE, they wouldn't let you skip lunch to beat the traffic going home, or add extra time to your lunch to outwait the traffic going home.

    In my case, I do currently pay a $100/week premium to live 30 minutes from work rather than an hour from work. It saves me 5 hours a week, which means that for just $20/hr, I claim some hours of my life back. Seemed like not too bad a deal when I did the math.

      "Seven_tech, mate, is 1000 waking hours of your life (4 x 5 x 50) per year really not worth paying extra for?"

      The only way he would get that 1000 hours is if he worked from home.

        I take your point Barb. Unfortunately, in my line of work, I have to go where the jobs are. And I LIKE where I live. I've lived here since I was born and, when I DO get time off, it's so beautiful and peaceful.

        My colleague and friend at work lives more than an hour physically closer to work than me....and it STILL takes him as long as me to get to work, because of traffic....

          Uh... How can someone live "an hour physically closer" to something? How can time be used to measure distance? And if it takes that person the same amount of time to drive to work, how can they be an hour closer in time?

            Ahh, the parallel space-time continuum that is Sydney. He lives in Western Sydney. It takes him 45 mins by car, with no traffic. It takes me nearly 1 hour 45 mins in a car, no traffic.

            By train, it takes him 2 hours, once he drives to the station and catches the train. Same as me. Work THAT one out :D

    People move out of the styx.

      The sad thing is, you don't need to live in the sticks to have a long commute to an urban center. A commute from the outer suburbs of Sydney or Melbourne into the CBD can take 90-120 minutes. And you're absolutely screwed if you live on one side of a metropolis and work on the other.

      Some people have professions that aren't really portable out of an urban centre.

    Boomzzilla, Businesses / employers need to be decentralising rather than people.
    When will businesses realise that (1) they do not need to be in the city (2) rents are cheaper in the urban fringes (3) they will attract better quality employees by being either closer to where their staff live or by making their workplace more easily accessible?

    I live 20 mins from work, and with all the back street I take it is quick and simple. I do believe that trucks should not be on the roads during peck hours. The reason why for example if i'm running late and I hit some traffic there has been times way a truck turning left takes the whole time as the set of lights allow to turn. This means at no traffic moved though the lights. Normally lets say 6 to 7 cars, a truck is not longer then 6 or 7 cars in lenght

    @ ButFli - time are used to measure distance. I refer you to light years. 1 light year being the distance that light travels in one year ;-)

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