Clogging Up the New Year

Remain Vigilant

Continued congestion issues mean we will be clogging up the New Year even more than the last one. Productivity will be compromised by unreliable delivery times and the customer will not be willing to pay a congestion levy.


Congestion in Australian cities is increasing every year and, according to the latest Cost of Congestion report from Tom Tom Telematics, $3.5 billion worth of time is lost each year because of traffic issues.


Traffic in our ten busiest cities is increasing travel times by 28 per cent. Sydney is congestion top dog and Perth is the only city which didn’t see an increase in congestion last year. Melbourne and the Gold Coast are growing fast with a four per cent increase in congestion in the last year.


As with many of the statistics put out by major companies and agencies, the road transport industry is ignored. There are figures in the report for light commercial vehicles and light rigid trucks and the 160,000 plus vehicles included are losing well over 19 million hours each year to congestion.


If this is the case for these smaller flexible vehicles with minimal access restrictions, the effect on heavier trucks must be more profound, with less opportunity to divert through city back streets.


The cost to trucking is extremely difficult to quantify. It’s no good counting the number of loads which arrive late. Smart operators wanting to keep a contract will pull loading times forward to ensure the goods do reach their destination in time. The customer carries on receiving its goods at the right time and sees little effect from congestion.


However, the fact of the matter is it is taking longer and longer each year to get truck Z from point A to point B and there seems to be little we can do about it. The big customer/small operator power imbalance means the trucking operation will have to suck it up, when looking at congestion.


There is no cure for congestion, but there are ways of improving outcomes. Unfortunately, improving congestion comes down to improving infrastructure, or improving the way we use the infrastructure.


Infrastructure is a very expensive business, costing billions on top of billions. This makes it politically sensitive, governments have to sell infrastructure spending to the electorate. There are more votes in the car driving community than there are in the truck community, and the votes driving cars are more likely to live in the local constituency.


Any infrastructure is likely to prioritise improvement for car traffic, which should have a knock-on effect of improving congestion out comes for truckies to some extent.


So, there’s a conundrum to ponder while you are sitting in a traffic queue on in one of our cities over the next few weeks, trying to get down to the beach, or into a DC, who is willing to pay for all of us clogging up the New Year?