Soaring population ponzi traffic chokes productivity

By Leith van Onselen

The most recent ABS demographic statistics for the December quarter of 2016 revealed rampant population growth for both Victoria (read Melbourne) and New South Wales (read Sydney):

In the 2016 calendar year, Victoria’s population surged by an insane 147,000, whereas New South Wales’ population grew by 116,000. Whereas in the decade to 2016, Victoria’s population grew by a whopping 1,140,000 (22%), whereas New South Wales’ population grew by 1,012,000 (15%).

Not surprisingly, this explosion in immigration-fueled population has driven a huge rise in traffic congestion. From The Australian:

The number of vehicles travelling in Australian cities has grown almost tenfold in the past 70 years and, with exponential population growth not being met with adequate road infrastructure upgrades, traffic speeds are crawling to a standstill…

Last year, a report from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia said congestion could cost the nation more than $50 billion in lost productivity by 2031 unless addressed.

The latest congestion bill was $16.5bn in 2015.

Congestion levels on major arterial roads are at a high, with most cities suffering much slower travel times and lower average speeds than previously recorded.

Sydney, which last year was named the nation’s most congested city by peak transport body Austroads, has seen significant reductions in average speeds even since 2011. The population of Greater Sydney has risen by almost 300,000 people during that time, reaching almost five million…

Sydney is also home to seven of the nation’s most delayed roads and drivers need to account for 50 per cent additional travel time during peak hours to arrive at their destination on time…

Sydney and Melbourne have similar congestion patterns due to similar population levels and number of vehicles on the roads…

Melbourne is growing by 2000 new drivers each week, with more than 200,000 vehicles travelling across the West Gate Bridge between the CBD and western suburbs each day. According to the most recent data available, about 1,164,000 Melburnians drive to work each day (with an additional 83,000 people travelling to work as passengers).

Between 2006 and 2013, speeds on Melbourne’s major arterial roads have slowed by an average of 13km/h…

Last year, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) released a report that used Uber driver information to measure “road network performance” in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to drill down into average travel times at different hours of the day.

The results are based on the following number of drivers in each city:

ScreenHunter_15370 Oct. 11 07.21

And found that “efficiency” pretty much followed the level of population growth as shown in the chart above:

ScreenHunter_15371 Oct. 11 07.21

In Melbourne, which is the population ponzi king, travel times worsened materially, followed by Sydney, which has also experienced strong population growth.

The IPA’s findings support those of the Bureau of Infrastructure and Regional Economics, which forecast soaring costs of congestion, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, over the next 15 years based on lower population projections than exist now (hence congestion costs have likely been underestimated):

ScreenHunter_15369 Oct. 11 07.21

The sad reality is that with a mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy in effect:

And population growth projected to remain turbo-charged in both Melbourne and Sydney:

Traffic congestion will get so much worse, along with its deleterious impacts on productivity and living standards.

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  1. St JacquesMEMBER

    Hmmmm the population Ponzi, with all its costs and problems and the soon to be closed car industry assembly and supply chain are especially concentrated in Melbourne……a very combustible combination me thinks.

    • Plenty of Thai Massages opening up though, after your happy ending you can go relax eating a nice meal at the latest Thai restaurant that opened.

      • How about mobile Thai massage parlours? You know – as you wait in traffic, like the guys who come and “wash” your windshield, you get a massage (with or without happy ending). You’re going to be sitting there for 30 minutes or so, plenty of time to love you longtime.

  2. Cities are actually producing less and less. I’m not sure REAL productivity is much damaged. The BS measure that is currently used might be affected.

    • St JacquesMEMBER

      I’m just wondering how the shock is going to run through the Melbourne metropolitan economy that has become ever more dependent on the ever more fragile and problematic debt fuelled population Ponzi and associated housing speculation. Wages going down while living costs rise under ever bigger mortgages…..that creates increasing fragility. Fascinating.

    • St JacquesMEMBER

      Beg your pardon about the misplaced post above.
      Yep, big infrastructure worked wonders for the Spanish ponzi.economy…oh wait…

    • Sydney and Melbourne are just city states now, devoid of any relationship to their past or surrounding areas outside the city borders.

      • Pm They have a very close relationship with areas outside….they’re sucking parasites!!!

  3. CharlieChaplin

    It’s all so frustratingly avoidable. These points of argument never reach the mainstream media or politics. Thanks Leith. Keep trying. Just like your work with the housing bubble analysis it’s bound to get through EVENTUALLY. But only after a lot more damage has been done to our environment and living standards. We can’t remain so docile forever.

  4. But if we weren’t all jammed into cars the insurance companies and banks making car loans wouldn’t do so well. Nor car salesman, car manufacturers, mechanics, big oil, smash repairers, repco and parking stations. Real men are into cars. They are the real people, they have lots of muscle, they stand and fold their arms a lot with self important looks on their face and you’re a bunch of nerds.

    • Real men get out the city and build a hut in the woods – coz the cities are stuffed.

  5. I look forward to the day when the traffic gets so bad that the governments try to introduce some policies that have been used overseas. Such as congestion charges and last digit of number plate car restriction days (used in Beijing for example). Of course that’ll be fine for the rich, do as the they do in Beijing just buy however many additional cars required and make sure you bribe the car rego people to get a plate with the final digit you require.

    Can’t wait to see the reaction when these are finally suggested by our state governments. Rationing in Australia, the land of plenty!!!

  6. DarkMatterMEMBER

    The problem with these productivity arguments is that in truth we have no real way of measuring productivity. We don’t really produce anything! In the past whole civilisations crumbled because of efficiency issues. If Melbourne has people sitting in their cars for 3 hours, what difference does it make? Will Coles run out of tomato sauce? Will the electronic money stop flowing?

    Effectively, Sydney and Melbourne are giant Clockwork Oranges that exist for the sake of existing and as long as they look busy, they can be anything they want to be. Traffic jams are just as good as anything else. It is a form of Virtue Signalling for MegCities.

    • Exactly: what’s the point of even attempting to measure/define Productivity if there’s no net Product resulting from the Labour concentration of our Mega cities? Is increased Indebtedness a product? Are assets sales a product? For a simple man like me these seem more like the actions of a desperate society in terminal decline. With another 20 years of the same we should be at the point where everything of value is foreign owned including the government, at that point we can probably go back to measuring Labour Productivity and getting sensible results, however until that day it’s just another GIGO statistic.

    • Stuff is produced and exported. Medical equipment, RODE microphones (made in Sydney!), hospitality cabinets, wine.

      I think I saw on the back of a deodorant can, made in AUS and exported to the 3rd world.

    • Hunter80MEMBER

      I hate to think of all those Social Media Enagement Consultants, PR chickie-babes and Luxury Real Estate agents being late for their appointments! Won’t somebody think of the coddled children of the elite!

    • This is a problem throughout the West and, along with debt ponzis, the reason we keep importing more people. Keep on kicking that can, can’t have a depression while the BBs are still alive.

      • St JacquesMEMBER

        But the importing of people costs a lot in infrastructure etc. I don’t think there’s much left over for the pension, and they and their families age too, so then you’ve got to import more. Doesn’t really make sense.

      • demografixMEMBER

        Yep, a people ponzi to pay for pensions is stupidity. Asset testing the PPOR in a HECS like debt payable on death is the go and necessary now.