Melbourne faces ‘carmageddon’

Driving back from my early morning boxing training this week, I have been struck by the huge rise in Melbourne traffic as the city emerges from summer holidays.

Crossing the bridge over the M1 at East Malvern at 7am has revealed a car park below, with traffic snarled and barely moving.

The culprits appear to be a combination of workers returning to CBD offices, alongside an ingrained reluctance to use public transport, with new modelling projecting a “traffic nightmare” for Melbourne:

A new report by Infrastructure Victoria shows traffic has almost fully returned to pre-coronavirus levels and is on track to rise across inner Melbourne by up to 100,000 car trips per day.

The increase comes as public transport usage has been sluggish and over the next 12 months is expected to remain at just over half normal patronage.

Conservative modelling shows the two issues will put a massive strain on our roads that will slow down the morning rush around the heart of the city by 20 to 30 per cent, with average speeds of just 20km/h.

Infrastructure Victoria CEO Michel Masson said action was needed from governments and employers to stop this from happening and prevent habits from being locked in.

“Without intervention, we expect car use in inner Melbourne to increase by around 15% compared with pre-COVID levels – the equivalent of 100,000 additional car trips every day – while public transport use is unlikely to return to above around 60 per cent of previous passenger numbers,” he said.

Melbourne’s transport systems was already operating at breaking point before COVID-19, thanks to 15 years of extreme immigration-driven population growth. Clearly, it will not be able to cope with a sudden surge of travelers on roads.

The only solution is for a large chunk of the population to continue working from home, alongside lower levels of immigration going forward.

The productivity losses from having thousands of people sit in traffic for hours a day to sit in front of a computer screen in a CBD office are mind boggling.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Spot on UE. It’s too hard. I am moving out not in and giving up my Melbourne office. I have discovered I don’t actually need to be there. I’ll go in when I absolutely have to.

  2. GunnamattaMEMBER

    I’ve been in Ballarat and Bendigo the last few days. About 8 years ago I decided that quality of life in Melbourne was no better than elsewhere and worse than many – and opted for Geelong.

    Sure there arent the jobs in Geelong Ballarat and Bendigo, but if the choice is between taking crappy jobs in the regionals or having a better job in Melbourne, but having to spend maybe 2-3 hours in traffic each day, the regionals are a better option (or will be for many). Ballarat, Bendigo and Geetroit are observably more comfortable and pleasant places to live IMHO, though they too are starting to see issues (particularly Geelong) stemming from big population increases. Places like Warrnambool, Kyneton and Castlemaine (if you can work remotely) would also be worth chewing over, as well as some of the places down the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland (where I havent been in a while).

    I assume something of the same dynamic is happening in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth etc

    • NoodlesRomanovMEMBER

      The salary drop off is steep in SEQ. A job that pays $150k in Brisbane can be advertised for about half that on the Sunshine Coast.

    • SoCalSurfCreeperMEMBER

      Victoria sounds like it’s headed toward being another Southern California. 300km of almost continuous sprawl north to south and another 200km east to west. That’s like suburbs from Melbourne to Wodonga with almost no real breaks. This is what the Big Australia people will get. Of course they’ll want ‘density’ but people vote with their feet until all those regional cities join up in every direction. 50 years should do it.

      • I never thought I’d say it, but Melbourne traffic is worse than LA’s in my experience. And the people are worse to each other here in Melbourne. Melbourne is a shizhole, but I need to stay before my kids hit tertiary.

        • SoCalSurfCreeperMEMBER

          Melbourne was ace in the 80’s and 90’s. Did not recognize it about 4 years back. Coastal Southern CA is a wonderful place to live as long as you’re relatively well off. I don’t know why anyone that isn’t would choose to live here. There are many better places on a budget. I’ll never go back to any Australian city though. Regional Oz is the way to go and the further out the better. I’ll always come here when I need to be in the big smoke. Beautiful low density suburbs. No highrise. Love being right near Mexico too. Weekends in Valle de Guadalupe wine country (much more fun than stuffy, expensive Napa/Sonoma), decent surf and great cheap restaurants.

          • I’m from NYC, but I’ve always liked socal. I like the Central Coast, too. No idea where I’ll end up. Not NY. Everyone’s gone. Ski country or Texas, perhaps. Maybe California if I’m on cap gains. There’s no reason for me to live in Australia except for my young kids, but the want to go to NY/ Boston for uni. Melbourne is a big nope.

          • SoCalSurfCreeperMEMBER

            I have a senior. He may go to Sydney or he may go here. I told him Oz is better because for the price he can come back and get a masters here after if he wants. And the world is a big place why not get out there and experience. He knows and likes Australia and has good teenage friends there already. We are about to sell a townhouse here and buy an Oz beach house far away from the city. I’m planning a second round in hotel quarantine in May but I’ll keep working though so it goes pretty quick. If I were you I’d look at Western ski towns. That’s also a dream of mine but I’d have to sell the primary home and we like this place and who knows how long my knees will last anyway… Speaking of skiing we are supposed to go to park city this weekend but to this point the snow looks bad and It’ll be a game time decision whether we go or not. Son is keen. I’ve avoided covid so far but you can’t live under a rock. Oh and also…I’m taking a day off work Friday to volunteer at a drive thru vaccination station and they say I’ll get a shot for my trouble!

          • Whomever said “you can never go home again” was right. I’m thinking maybe in-state school for my kids in the USA after a gap year if I establish residency in a place with a good system. My girls could probably get some aid in sports scholarships. Can’t count on that though.

            Get a degree in-state. Suck it up. Go bigger on the school for an advanced degree, but do it in an area that is going to rapidly grow.

        • I agree, the first time I have read anyone criticising Melbourne. Took me 10 years to see anything at all decent bearable in the place.So ugly, people so narrow, so retarded, dinasaur city.metal in the sky and asphalt coloured cars on the roads carrying people in asphalt coloured polyester suits. It was a very nice city 30 years ago. People were well dressed, it was very pleasant very nice.

      • No breaks except the mad artificial surf centres. No sharks, at least

        Endless bull sharks at Evans of late. Blargh. Back in the pool for me.

        • SoCalSurfCreeperMEMBER

          Hey swampy. Yeah the number of sharks northern nsw is crazy! Hope you’re doing good. Our townhouse is going to market on Thursday! Will become a serious buyer after that, assuming I can work up the courage to quarantine again.

          • Yo! Good luck with the sale! I lost your email addy (again).

            Prices are going off a bit here. Crackalacking. Lot of exy Euro cars about. Was in Bangalow on the weekend, it was quiet, and lovely. Best brekky I’ve had in aggggges at the Butcher and Baker. Have avoided Byron even tho water @ 29 apparently and less sharky/clearer water.

            We settled in – 3.5 weeks of carpentry, mowing (thanks Boom and Bolsty – the Honda is a treat) and demo work rennoing a section to make wifey a photography studio. Alas no golf and minimal biking but first world probs and all. I got 99 probs and Covid ain’t one.

        • Sh1t eh. I spent most of my childhood school holidays camping in the Evans Head camp ground and swimming on the beach next to the wall. Never heard of a shark there in all that time.

  3. The M1 is a car park? How quaint. Try coming in from the West Side with the westgate roadworks and detours. Yesterday it took an hour and a half from Hoppers Crossing to Sunshine West via the back roads (eg: Palmers Rd/Boundary Rd) at midday. Mostly trucks playing their part in global logistics to deliver junk from Chy-nah.

    Add to this last week I was rear ended at 100kmh because I slowed for roadworks. It’s chaos out there!

    • Which party would a Melbourne resident vote for if a small Australia was desired???? You don’t think the plutocrats would give a choice to the electorate?

  4. The issue will mainly be that no one is using public transport and so more cars than usual.

    For me, I have a walking commute to my office in the Sydney cbd (30 mins) which I am thankful for. (well I also helped pick the location and made sure it was at the edge closer to Paddo!)

    I wouldn’t want to be taking public transport at the moment and when school holidays are over will go back to WFH.

      • Will they, though?

        90 mins on the sprinter from Malmsbury to Spencer St. Still 3hrs en route every day, or maybe a couple times a week.

        It’s not for everyone.

        If I was still in Melbourne, it’d be safely ensconsced in Black Rock or close by, or out on small acreage Newham, etc. Good for treadly-lovers.

        • Black Rock would be cool if you were working out of a home office and a golfer. Otherwise, no good.

          • Or a cyclist, or like running the cliffs/stair reps at Red Bluff, or like swimming the bay, or rode to work.

            You’re right but, it’s a fair hike out of the city to get on the road to Buller.

          • I lived in BR for a few years. I liked it. More like old Australia. Forests of lemon-scented gums, good food options, good schools, sailing club, great golf, deserted bay beaches, etc. But it’s a PITA to get to the city from there. PITA to the airport. You know the drill.

        • Sure, I think they can fck it up.
          House prices bid up. Local councils and blowins cashing in by rezoning and developing.
          Moar punters on the trains, moar cars in the carpark.
          It’s not far enough from Melbourne…like Canberra isn’t far enough from Beijing.

  5. Please city folk, stay in your cities. Don’t let it beat you, fight back, even if it takes the rest of your life. The regional area’s of Australia are crap, do not come here. Cities are so much better for everything. Do not believe any rumors you hear about the region’s being okay to live in, they are false. Not sure what else to write, hope you are all convinced by this to stay put and tough it out.

    • Corn seed, worry not. For one I will never move to the cultural void that is rural Victoria. You can keep your meth-infused sense of self-gratification. I’d rather be in San Antonio, Sun Valley, Killington or the South of France – or chunder – Ireland.

      • Well, quite. Somewhere around Pau would be nice, or Montelimar, Grenoble. Or Maui (golf, again! But cycling Haleakala!). Where in the US has a heady mix of epic snow, MTB, cycling with perhaps close access to waves or an airport to them. Lance makes Aspen sound good. Money money money.

        Not everyone has the wherewithal though to up stumps and move.

      • That’s a another good reason, lots of meth in the bush. Word on the street was that Carl Williams was going to move to Bright because the margins were better. And the other day I think I nearly saw a homeless person camped on our main street. And there is a lot more bad stuff that happens here in the Bush, I’m sure that one day COVID will get here as well.

    • I +1 this. Houses are muy expensive. 2 mill for a place in Bangalow. Bangalow! And no jerbs! Stay at home. Shelter in place. Things are better there.