Sydney’s congestion dilemma stifling economic growth


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The Hon. Patricia Forsythe, Executive Director, Sydney Business Chamber delivered this presentation at the 2013 NSW State Transport Infrastructure Summit.
The State Transport Infrastructure Series of events represent the leading forums in Australia to assess the future plans for transport infrastructure development and financing across Australia. For more information, please visit

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Sydney’s congestion dilemma stifling economic growth

  1. 1. NSW Transport Infrastructure Summit August 2013 Sydney’s Congestion Dilemma Stifling Economic Growth The Hon. Patricia Forsythe Executive Director
  2. 2. Slower than a penguinSource: Daily Telegraph, December 2011
  3. 3. Sydney Factors • Sydney is a top 26 city by economic output • Congestion is not confined to road network • 112 trains arrive at Town Hall and Wynyard in the am peak • More than 1000 buses in the CBD in busiest peak hour, many finish journeys almost empty • Dispersed economic activity, combined with a CBD focussed radial public transport system
  4. 4. Constraints • Multiple water crossings • 20 trains per hour Harbour Bridge limit • Rail freight time limitations • Lack of policy on freight and commercial vehicle priority for road space or parking • Lack of route preservation
  5. 5. Setting the Scene: The Cost of Congestion • The cost of congestion in Australia in terms of productivity loss is $14 billion, and will be $21 billion by 2020 (BITRE 2007) • Cost of traffic congestion in Australia 2.6% of GDP, OECD average 2%. (Professor Graham Currie, Monash University) • $1100 pp • The cost of congestion to Sydney alone will be $8 billion by 2020 (Media release Minister Berejiklian, May 2012) • One in four businesses with car fleets reported that the cost of running a fleet car in Sydney went up by more than $5,000 in 2011. (NRMA BusinessWise Survey 2011) • 80% of businesses say congestion has worsened in the past 12 months. (City of Sydney)
  6. 6. Breakdown of Costs Source: Infrastructure Partnerships of Australia
  7. 7. The Task Ahead: The Impact of Growth The number of trips made by freight vehicles on an average weekday in the Sydney metropolitan area is expected to grow by 47% from 1.5 million to 2.2 million in 2036, faster than the rate of population growth, with heavy vehicles growing by 2.2%. Source: PwC Research on the F3/M7
  8. 8. Why Action Matters • Sydney is Australia’s congestion capital, with avoidable social costs of 8 cents per vehicle- kilometre in 2005 and estimated to be 13 cents per kilometre by 2020. Source: City of Sydney Technical Report, Connecting our City • The Australian Logistics Council estimates that every 1% increase in freight efficiency saves the economy $1.5 billion nationally. (2011)
  9. 9. Why Action Matters The ‘school holiday’ effect: reductions in traffic volumes of 5-10% result in proportionately much greater reduction in travel times on normally congested routes. The NRMA rule-of-thumb, when traffic congestion is reduced by 5% traffic speeds increase by 50%. Source: Decongestion-10 Ways to Relieve Sydney’s Traffic Headache. NRMA May 2011 p25.
  10. 10. Why Action Matters: A competitive City • Sydney 7th most liveable city 2012 (Melbourne No 1) Source: Economist Intelligence Unit • Sydney 10th Source: Mercer’s Quality of Living 2012, 2013 Survey • Sydney 9th most liveable city 2013 (Melbourne No 2) Source: Monocle Magazine • PwC Cities of Opportunity 2011: Sydney finished ahead of Los Angeles, Johannesburg and Sao Paulo in area of transport.
  11. 11. A Case Study: Green Square • 40,000 residents • 22,000 jobs • A ‘business-as-usual approach’ will see 38% increase in am peak vehicle movements and 80,000 vehicles per day • 121 buses operate through Green Square in am peak on 17 routes (many are full on arrival) • Much of the residential development will occur outside of walking distance to the train station
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  14. 14. The Case for WestConnex • An additional 40.3 million passengers at Sydney Airport by 2035 • Trade at Port Botany grew at 7%p.a. for last 15 years • 3.1 million trips (all modes) per day by 2031 • Benefit to cost ratio estimate of 1.5 (INSW) • Parramatta to Sydney Airport 35 minute saving
  15. 15. International Success Stories Singapore • Introduction of congestion charging improved peak hour traffic speeds from 30kmph to 45kmph • 5 years after introduction, drivers being charged approved of the system Sweden • Stockholm’s cordon and congestion charging has been successful in changing behaviour, reducing urban congestion. Successful implementation of such charges requires a well functioning mass transit system. In Sweden, revenues raised from the charges have gone to improving urban public transport networks. • The continuation of congestion charging was put to a referendum in 2006 and was overwhelmingly endorsed by the residents of Stockholm
  16. 16. A strategy It is extremely important to note that congestion pricing is an essential element of an economically efficient anti-congestion package for Sydney, but it is not sufficient. It must be complemented by an increase in road capacity, particularly debottlenecking and by-pass investments - and increase in public transport capacity. Source: Pricing Congestion in Sydney. INSW 2012 SMART Infrastructure University of Wollongong and ACIL Tasman