How can we enable people to live closer to where they work?

What’s the problem?

As cities spread outwards and housing prices between inner and outer areas become more disparate, more and more people are living further away from job opportunities in the CBD.

Alt text This in turn creates further disparities between life in the inner city versus middle and outer suburban communities.

Australians are not only working more hours each week, we are also spending a longer amount of our time getting to work. This is a massive quality of life problem for many individuals and families. It is also a serious national problem that impedes economic activity, participation and productivity.

Nine things you need to know

  • Labour markets are relatively weak in many parts of Australia’s major cities, particularly in outer suburbs.

  • Only 10 per cent of all metropolitan jobs are within a reasonable commuting time. Jobs that are within a reasonable distance tend to be lower paying, less knowledge-intensive jobs.

  • Data shows that the average hours Australians spent each week travelling to and from work have increased from 3.9 hours in 2002 to 4.4 hours in 2009.

  • Sydneysiders spend almost six hours per week getting to and from work in a car, bus or train.

  • Commuters spend on average five hours a week travelling to and from work in Brisbane, and 4.8 hours in Melbourne. Canberra, Hobart and Darwin spend the least time commuting.

  • Meanwhile, our travel corridors are becoming more congested. In Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra, without investment in new transport capacity and/or means of managing demand, car travel times are expected to increase by at least 20 per cent in the most congested corridors. In some cases, travel times could more than double between 2011 and 2031.

  • While the use of public transport has been increasing since 2004, currently only one in six Australians travel to work by public transport.

  • Even at this rate, demand for public transport in the capital cities is set to rise by an average of 89 per cent across all capital cities – specifically by 55 per cent in Sydney and 121 per cent in Melbourne. Without action, commuters in all capital cities will experience services with ‘crush loadings’, where peak demand exceeds capacity.

  • From 2011 to 2031, the passenger transport burden (both road and public transport) across our six largest capital cities is projected to increase by 58 per cent, from 622 million km per day to 982 million km per day.

Want more? Watch our infographic video about affordable housing here.

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