A lack of investment in Perth's rail system has been blamed for new official figures showing Perth is on track to have seven out of Australia's top 10 most congested roads within 15 years.
Two suburbs, Joondalup and Serpentine-Jarrahdale, recorded the longest travelling times in Perth with 50-65 per cent of people spending more than 45 minutes commuting to work every day, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.
More than 45 minutes is defined as lengthy by the bureau.
Traffic congestion will be a key issue in the March state election, with Labor’s key transport plan Metronet focussed on rail, while the Liberal National government’s key project is road infrastructure in the form of the $1.9 billion Freight Link.
After his July federal election win, new Burt Labor MP Matt Keogh cited anger among people in Perth’s outer suburbs about a lack of investment in infrastructure, including roads, in Perth’s fastest-growing outer suburbs as a reason for his success.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan says he sympathises with commuters as he spends two hours a day travelling to and from work to his home in Rockingam.
“The federal government figures showed too many West Australians spending time commuting to and from the city for work,” he said.
“It means you miss family time, are unproductive at work and miss the opportunity to kiss your children good night, say goodbye to your children in the morning, and if you miss that regularly, it has a very harmful effect on family life, spending so much time commuting to and from work.”
People forced to live in outer suburbs where housing was affordable shouldn’t be penalised with terrible congestion and a poor public transport system, he said.
Perth mother of two boys Joanna Spillaine said she spent more than 100 minutes a day travelling the 25km to and from her home in Edgewater to her city job with BHP Billiton.
“It is really frustrating with two young sons in primary and certainly wanting to get home and start homework, dinner, bath time and everything like that,” she said.
“My son said the other day, ‘Wouldn’t it be great, Mum, if you could work a bit closer to school,’ and it broke my heart a bit actually.”
Premier Colin Barnett defended the government’s policies on Thursday, saying while public transport was important, it could not move containers.
“Most of us, 70 per cent of trips done in private cars, and as the city grows there going to be more trucks and vehicles,” he told 6PR radio.