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Small fee will make inroads into reducing congestion

Charging motorists as little as 5 cents per kilometre during peak periods will reduce congestion in Australia's capital cities: survey

May 2, 2013

Charging motorists as little as 5 cents per kilometre during peak periods will significantly reduce congestion in Australia’s capital cities, according to the results of a new survey.

The latest quarterly Transport Opinion Survey of 1,000 adults across Australia found a per-kilometre fee of 5 cents during 7am to 9am and 4.30pm to 6.30pm on all major roads will encourage up to 35 percent of motorists to travel at a different time or shift to public transport.

Conducted by the University of Sydney, the survey says 13 percent of people across all capital cities will switch to public transport, with 22 percent opting to drive to work in off-peak periods. However, 65 percent will wear the charge to continue driving in peak times.

“A fall of about 6 percent of peak hour trips would make a significant difference to our current levels of congestion,” Professor David Hensher says.

The survey also found 34 percent of motorists across all capital cities have plenty of flexibility in selecting when they can leave home for work to avoid traffic congestion.

“This suggests that there is scope to reduce traffic congestion through road pricing while not impacting on work choices,” Hensher says.

“As we search for ways to reduce congestion on our roads during peak travelling times, these findings are very encouraging.”

Melbourne will react most favourably to peak-hour pricing, with 39 percent of respondents in the city saying they will switch driving times or rely on public transport.

Perth was the least likely to change its driving habits, with 72 percent of commuters saying they will continue to drive to and from work during peak times.

Sydney reported the least flexibility in departure time for work, with 73 percent of respondents in the city saying they must be at work at a fixed time.

Conversely, Perth reported the most flexibility in selecting departure time (41 percent) compared to other capital cities (28-35 percent).

The survey also quizzed respondents on their thoughts about the state of transport in their local area.

Over half (53 percent) believe the highest priority issue for transport is public transport, followed by road improvements (26 percent).

Only 18 percent believe transport in their local area will be better one year from now, with 56 percent saying transport in their local area is the same as 12 months ago.

Overall, 24 percent think transport in Australia will be better in one year’s time, up from 20 percent in the last transport survey conducted in September 2012.

Respondents reported a positive long-term view on transport, with 46 percent thinking it will be better in transport in five years.

The Transport Opinion Survey has been conducted quarterly since March 2010 through phone interviews. The latest survey was conducted between March 23 and April 2013.

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