The vehicle traffic in Australia is getting worse every year. According to the Australian Automobile Association’s report on road congestion, there has been a gradual decline in average driving speeds in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane over the past five years, affecting the country’s capital cities. The report also mentions that the highly variable travel time and speed reduction contribute to a decline in economic productivity and performance, which Australians will have to shoulder when it translates to the rising costs of living.
Road congestion is a multi-faceted problem that requires the collaboration of multiple sectors to address. It involves both public works and private preferences, and taking the two into account can help illuminate the severity of the problem.
High Vehicle Utilisation in Roadways
Whether due to an increased population or a high rate of vehicle sales, the number of cars on the road directly plays a part in the road congestion of cities. In cases like this, private cars are the main contributors to traffic; an average-sized car occupies the same amount of space on the road whether it carries a minimum of one passenger or it meets its maximum capacity of six passengers. Private cars have a higher ratio for road area utilisation per passenger compared to public buses, which can carry up to fifty passengers at a time depending on the make.
The preference for private vehicles means that public transportation is not a reliable option. However, continuously relying on private vehicles can lead to stop-gap solutions like road creation and expansion. Though these can help alleviate the severity of the current situation, it may encounter similar problems in the future.
Infrastructure Challenges—Larger Road Obstacles
The worsening traffic congestion can prompt the government to focus on infrastructure modifications that help increase the capacities of roads. However, frequent civil infrastructure projects also play a part in causing road congestion. Reduced driving lanes and road closures require major rerouting operations, which unfortunately involve roads that are not equipped to handle increased vehicle traffic. The construction of bridges and tunnels affects the operations of trains and buses; a non-operational train can translate into needing 100 more buses on the road to facilitate the commute of citizens.
Proper information dissemination and traffic management can help mitigate the effects of these projects on road congestion. For example, road constructions need proper signage so that drivers can quickly adapt to reduced lanes or road space. According to experts at TranEx Group, solutions like portable traffic lights and variable message signage can increase the effectivity of traffic management surrounding special circumstances, allowing for better traffic flow and reduced confusion from drivers.
Successfully addressing the issues of road congestion requires the implementation of civil infrastructure and local government plans that can prioritise citizens’ needs for reliable transportation options without resorting to stopgap solutions. Citizens, however, must be prepared to do their part; if a long-term construction project is the ideal solution, they must be able to withstand the short-term inconveniences for a more comprehensive road management plan.