Which Aussie Cities Have The Worst Commutes?

Which Aussie Cities Have The Worst Commutes?

Commuting: it’s a controversial topic, and a major pain for many of us. But what are the average commute times in Australian cities and states? New research conducted to promote National Telework Week suggests that the worst commuting times are found in Sydney and Melbourne, where an hour-long daily commute is the norm.

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These are the figures, calculated by Payscale Australia Research:

Location Average commute time
NSW 64 minutes
Sydney 71.5 minutes
Victoria 55 minutes
Melbourne 61 minutes
Queensland 50 minutes
Brisbane 58.5 minutes
SA 50 minutes
Adelaide 51 minutes
WA 52.5 minutes
Perth 57 minutes
Tasmania 40 minutes

Commuting will always be more painful in big cities, but even in Tasmania, that average commute amounts to 7.2 days annually. If you can avoid having to travel to the office every day, the benefits are obvious.

How do those figures compare to your own experience? Tell us in the comments.


  • Traffic issues aside, a realistic approach of assessing these figures is by looking at the increased rates of sprawl and suburban growth within our major cities and towns. With people travelling an increasingly number of km’s, it’s little wonder trip times are also increasing.

    • Yep right on the mark mate! I know Brisbane has a growing urban sprawl (I’m sorry but I’m not sure how the other states are like). I just met a couple that are going to move to Regency Downs and commute to Brisbane everyday to work (approximately 90min drive each way).

  • Where are these people living in Brisbane that it takes virtually an hour to get to work? Does an average for Brisbane only include people who live in Brisbane, or does it include everyone who works in Brisbane? i.e. is the figure blown out by the dopes who choose to live on the Gold and Sunny Coasts and drive/train two hours each way to Brisbane and back?

    You could drive from one side of Brisbane (actual Brisbane, not the satellite cities) to the other in less than an hour at any time of the day. Something is up.

      • So I exaggerated about the one side of Brisbane to the other part. But seriously, you live about as far from the CBD as is possible while still living in Brisbane. Any further and you’re in another city. Yet your commute time is still below average. I think it’s safe to assume that roughly half of commute times will be longer. So where are these people living?

        The only possibly explanation is that half of commuters are choosing to live in different to city to the one they work in. These people are not “Brisbane commuters” and their commute times should not be attributed to Brisbane.

        • That’s a really poor ‘criterion’ you’ve suggested. They contribute to transportation load, cars on road etc. so regardless of where they live, they are still Brisbane commuters if they need to come to Brisbane to work. Not everyone can afford to live in Brisbane, there is also a significant shortage of houses close in, so often people have no other options, but to live much further out.

    • Do you live in brisbane? Because that’s completely not true. Our traffic sucks. If you have to commute anywhere during rush hour, its’ a long, long, frustrating time. And we’re very spread out.

      For example. I live on the south west side. My dad lives on the nrth west side. It takes me an average of 40mins to get there. That’s not in rush hour. In rush hour it’s definitely about an hr. At 12am in the morning? About 25mins.

      And he’s not even on the other side of the city. So I don’t know where you’re getting your brisbane driving experience from, but it’s very different from mine.

    • The Pacific highway is terrible going into the city the morning and heading out in the evening – for several hours.
      There are 4-5 well known areas where traffic jams up and banks back for ages.
      These include Springwood and several other large on-ramps.
      Not to mention the 80km/h stretch they’ve left up for months now with no sign of any roadworks progress.

      • Or Milton Rd, or Old Northern Road, or Samford Rd or the centenary highway. All of these are an absolute crawl from about 6:45am to 8:45am. The average speed would be less than 20km/h on most of these. Probably slower on the centenary highway.

      • Is that the 80 km/h stretch after the Cornwall St exit outbound? That is weird that bit, I have no idea why they insist on slowing it down there. Same as that random 80 km/h stretch on the Gateway northbound.

      • Pacific highway is atrocious but still the quickest route. Live in Redland Bay and work in Albion – spend anywhere from 50min to 70min per trip. Like a lot of “out of towners” we chose to build somewhere affordable while creating our piece of paradise in the sticks and on the water. Love my home and my job too much to consider anything else so will put up with the long commute as long as I have to.

    • You have to consider the Northsiders, that don’t know how to merge properly that clog up the Bruce Highway just past the Airport heading North making it a car park from 3pm until 7pm! πŸ™‚

      (Yes I’m a Southsider and I love having a fun dig at all the Northies)

    • Wynnum West. Walk out the door at 7:30, drive 2 minutes up the road to tLindum Station and walk to the office from Central. Sit at my desk at 8:30. VERY glad I can work from home 2 or 3 days a week. saves 4-6 hours a week!

    • I’m a dope that lives in Brisbane and commutes to the Sunshine Coast due to an impermanent job in a hard to find a job field. Hopefully it won’t be for much longer

    • I know right πŸ™

      My old drive from the Belconnen area to Fyshwick took about 25 minutes off-peak, 35-50 during peak, depending on how crap drivers were on Parkes Way etc. For reference the absolute best time I’ve ever done at about 10pm at night was 19 minutes with greens all the way and it’s ~16km each way.

  • i’m in WA and commute takes about an hour (on a good day with no rain). I would take the train which is quite good, but when you add in connecting bus delays and cost of fares, it is quicker and cheaper to drive.

  • I have to travel about 40kms across Melbourne to get to work it takes me about an hour (7am – 8am) (not using toll roads because they are massive ripoff).

    I get the inbound traffic on the West Gate in the morning, and the Outbound on the West Gate in the afternoon

  • An interesting little bit of trivia/info:

    In China, commuting more than 30 minutes each way is pretty much the end of the world. The fact that the average commute is over an hour for Sydneysiders comes as no surprise to us that live here.. it’s normal.. it’s daily life but it is a big shock to all my friends and extended family that live in China.

    My uncle’s family home is in a small city called Xinhe (in the Hebei province).. he works up the road a bit these days and the commute is 40 minutes. Instead of coming home every night to his wife and son, he actually chooses instead to live at that other smaller town and return once every 2 weeks to spend a day with his family before returning to work. 40 minutes… πŸ™‚

    EDIT: The fact that he doesn’t come home each day is considered “normal” by their standards.. they laughed at my reaction, just as I laughed at their reaction to my normal 1hr 15min commute. Fortunately, I have since moved and I only commute 45mins each way these days.. but my wife, who is Chinese, refuses to live more than 20 to 30 minutes away from her work..

    • To be fair, someone in China is going to be working longer than someone in Australia. You might scoff at the thought of a 40 minute commute being considered long, but they probably scoff at us working 8 hours a day (notionally).

      If you combined 2hr, 30min of commuting with your average Chinese workday there might not be enough time 8 hours sleep (let alone eating etc).

      • They don’t all work 16 hour days πŸ™‚ But you’re right.. there’s many other factors at play that you don’t automatically thing about when you hear it for the first time. Then as you think about it more, it kind of makes sense. If he really needed to go home, it’s not that far.. one major consideration for him is the state of the roads he would need to travel on to get home. It’s not that the roads are crumbling or anything.. they’re actually quite well maintained.. it’s the serious lack of lighting.. making it dangerous in some parts to drive.

        As for the major cities.. it’s the same feeling.. if it’s more than 20 to 30 minutes, it’s too long and you should look at moving closer or getting another job.. just like my wife. We moved earlier this year so she wouldn’t have to commute.. she gets to work in 10 minute on foot, or 3 minutes by car πŸ™‚

  • My commute on a good day is 1hr 30mins each way – 3 hours total daily.
    On a bad weather day or if I can’t get an express train its more like 1hr 45mins each way – 3.5 hours daily. Oh, and no 3G reception for 90% of the trip.

  • My commute is 15 minutes each way. I walk. I live in a teeny, tiny place in Sydney (you’d be hard pressed to find room for more than a bed, table/desk and lounge chair), and choose that tradeoff in order to have the other 30-90 minutes a day to use as I choose.

  • My commute is between 80-120 minutes by bus (depending on time of day), and about 65-100 minutes by car. If it rains, the bus trip can blow out to about 140 minutes – it’s the longest bus route in Sydney. No trains or ferries, so those are the only two transport options. I live about 33 km from the Sydney CBD.

  • @ Sparhawk0 & Seahorse – yeah, that sounds like the Hills alright ! We stayed with my folks in Castle Hill for the first two months after our kids were born earlier this year, so I had to resort to taking the Hillbus into work again after a few years away (I work just near Central). Words can’t describe the pain – buses jammed full of people, a totally f*cked up and illogical route designation system (where a bus with the same number e.g. “610X” will go to totally different destinations depending on time of day), buses running out of timetable order, journeys taking easily 90 – 120 minutes … total nightmare every day. Ended up driving in to Beecroft every morning instead (which is heading AWAY from the City) and hopping on a train – it was STILL faster than going ‘straight’ from Castle Hill by bus. Now we’re back at home (in Waitara) and the commute takes a cruisy 45-50 minutes by train virtually door-to-door.

    All I can say is, thankgod I don’t need to rely on Hillbus anymore (and I definitely feel your pain). Driving that way’s no fun either, as Seahorse has pointed out. M2 is a joke – surely the only ‘motorway’ that gets choked up at peak-hour (I bet the widening they were doing won’t help either – don’t know if it’s finished yet, haven’t driven that way in a while ?)

  • Darwin is as bad – They recently decided that because people were not selling up their homes and moving out quick enough, that they would build a shanty town on the edge of the city (We call them suburbs but these are crowded in to tiny blocks of land that by comparison to our quarter acre block is a car park). About a thousand houses on one lane streets. – having done so the traffic dynamic for what was previously the fringe of the city has become a transit corridor for massive traffic flow. They now divide themselves into two groups and approach a shared intersection over the same ‘quitting time’ period so traffic is backed up in the hundred car range back to half way to the next intersection – on both approach directions.

    This problem is sett to grow because they are now building a second shanty town across the other side of a major road that simply went out to a beach that was once several kilometres from the edge of town. So now there will be two thousand cars pouring into that shared intersection.

    Elected Governments are unaccountable criminals when it comes to their own short sighted incompetence.

  • Move out of the styx guys, or at least try to find work a bit closer to home.You may think your saving money moving away from the city centres but add up all the time/fuel/train fares/car wear/pollution and you may be surprised that you could swap your Mcmansion in the styx for a nice inner city cottage or apartment and be better off and have more free time.

    • Perhaps some of us like being in the styx. And we don’t all live in McMansions. Saving money on accommodation is probably the least important thing for me…

  • 2.5hrs door to door from northern Central Coast NSW to North Sydney NSW daily! 1/2 drive to the most practical train station and then close to 2hrs on the train *sigh*

  • I live on the Pacific Highway just north of the exit from the Warringah freeway (Sydney), it’s like a carpark from about 4.30 onwards. Sometimes I have to drive up to the coast on a Friday evening and it’s normally better to go out the M2 and up Pennant Hills road than it is to drive up the Pacific Highway.

    Admittedly it’s a 15-30 Min commute to the city from where I live, and it’s only a 9KM drive.

    • As a Pennant Hills resident, I can tell you that PH road and the M2 can be totally dysfunctional on Friday evenings, due mainly to the exodus of people such as yourself up the coast. Not blaming you, just a factor of the apparently everlasting M2 roadworks (where everything stops if there is an accident or breakdown) and the ongoing chokepoint that is PH Road.

      • The train from PH is pretty good, though the trip got longer when the Epping-Chatswood link got finished and all the trains went down the North Shore line. To get to the city fast you have to change at Epping and get a country train via Strathfield. I start early and leave early. 60 minutes by car and foot to Ultimo, about 75 by train and foot.

  • In darwin it takes me 2 mintues to drive to the car park them 3 minutes to walk into the office =P
    When i was in adelaide to drive from southern hills to norhtern suburbs (50 km) was about an hour and 10 minutes. under an hour if i left 10 minutes early.

  • I Live in Sydney. My daily commute is from the inner west to kings cross, which usually takes between 15-20 minutes. I put that down to the fact that I do my commute on a motorbike. I don’t understand why so many people would take a car to work, Traffic looks almost stationary half the time.

    • +1 I ride sometimes (in Perth) and it cuts my commute from over an hour to 20 mins. I think it comes down to ability (not everyone can ride), cost, weather and safety / comfort. Still, bikes are awesome!

  • The list is missing Canberra.. for Public Transport, *the* worst city for commuting. I was living in the outskirts (Queanbyean) and had to deal with two separate bus services. A (max) 20 minute drive each way ended up being 1 hour door to door each way instead (and cost $8-$10 each way each day). I know the focus is mainly on driving with this article, but public transport is supposed to make commuting easier and cheaper right??

  • I live in Sydney (north of bridge traveling south of bridge) takes me 20min on a really good day, but 30min most days. THANK GOD someone made the harbour tunnel otherwise easy 40min everyday over the bridge

  • I live and work in Port Kembla (Wollongong) and it’s 3.1 km, driveway to car park. 5 minutes tops.

    I occasionally contemplate moving to Sydney, but my wage is decent and I think I’d have to earn double to make up for the increased living costs & commute.

  • Moggill Road is the worst road in Brisbane can take 30 min from McDonalds Kenmore to Indooroopilly shopping center Between 7:15am to 8:15am this happens daily and normally you can get there in under 10min by car every other time

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