The prodigious costs incurred by traffic congestion in Australia’s urban centres will continue to surge, according to the latest data on our roadways from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economic (BITRE).
BITRE expects traffic congestion to cost the Australian economy $16.5 billion in 2015, and predicts that number will more than double to $37 billion by 2030, with our teeming, gridlocked cities invariably bearing most of the burden.
In Australia's most populous city of Sydney, traffic congestion is expected to cost $6.12 billion this year before leaping two-fold to $12.60 billion by 2030.
In Melbourne and Brisbane, congestion costs are pegged at $4.62 billion and $2.29 billion respectively. BITRE sees these figures more than doubling over the next 15 years to $10.19 billion in Melbourne and $5.94 billion in Brisbane.
The alarming data could serve as a wake-up call for policymakers, and may serve as a potential spur for major infrastructure development in order to forestall further worsening of congestion that's already reached appalling levels, as well as associated costs.
Brendan Lyon, Chief Executive of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, said the figures indicate Australia's infrastructure development environment is in urgent need of overhaul, and called for measures to reform pricing of roadways in order to improve transit efficiency.
"We have spent a decade attempting increment fixes to fundamental flaws in the current approach," said Lyon. "We hope that the release of today's statistic will signal to political leaders that we are up for a discussion about real reform, and that a process to properly consider pricing reform will be actively supported by overhaul.
"Charging drivers dependent on when, where and how they use their vehicles can change demand patterns."
The release earlier this year of similar alarming figures on congestion problems in Sydney prompted Infrastructure Australia chairman Mark Birrell to also issue calls for major overhauls of the development regime.
"Major reforms are needed to improve the way we finance and operate infrastructure to ensure it can underpin gains in Australia's productivity and employment growth in decades ahead," said Birrell. "It's time for the nation to treat population growth as a fact, a fact our nation should accept and gear up for."