Sydney's Long and Lengthening Commute Times

The New South Wales Department of Transport Housing and Transportation Survey reports that the average one way work trip in the Sydney metropolitan area (statistical division) reached 34.3 minutes in 2010. As a result, Sydney now has the longest reported commute time in the New World (United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), except for the New York City metropolitan area (34.6 minutes).

Longer Commutes than in Dallas-Fort Worth or Los Angeles: Sydney's average work trip travel time has increased approximately 10 percent since 2002. The 34.3 minute one way travel time is approximately 30 percent higher than that of larger Dallas-Fort Worth, which about half as dense. Part of the reason for the longer commute time in Sydney is its far greater transit dependence. Approximately 24 percent of work trip travel is on transit (which is slower for most trips). This compares to approximately 2 percent of travel in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Even Los Angeles, with its reputation for "gridlock" has a shorter average commute time, at 28.1 minutes. This is made possible by the extensive Los Angeles freeway system, greater use of automobiles and more dispersed employment patterns (despite the higher density of Los Angeles relative to Sydney). The average Sydney commuter spends nearly an hour longer traveling to work each week than the average Los Angeles commuter.

Even Longer Commutes Ahead? Sydney's densification policies (urban consolidation policies) seem likely to lengthen commute times even more in the future, given the association between higher densities and greater traffic congestion.

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