It found that one in four drivers admit that, right now, they don’t necessarily have to drive to work in peak hour; they could shift their journey to when the roads are quieter. Even more significantly, one in three have conceded that they could take other transport options instead of grabbing the car keys. Imagine the difference if 25 or 33 per cent of cars were removed from peak hour although, of course, that would require public transport, bike paths and other means to accommodate those people.
These kinds of findings have seen Infrastructure Victoria push heavily to government the idea of a transport network payment system, to be introduced probably within five to 15 years. It would mean Melbourne drivers who want to use the roads at the busiest times pay for that right, just as we pay more for peak-demand electricity or flights in school holidays when demand is intense.
There are precedents: London has long had a “congestion tax” for anybody wanting to drive into the centre of the city; Stockholm’s peak-hour volumes have dropped by 20 per cent since time-sensitive payments were introduced; and Singapore has been charging for years. Rideshare company Uber has surge pricing in peak periods and, in the US, the company has conceded congestion taxes are a good idea to remove half-hearted commuters from the peak-hour choke.
Such ideas are part of the discussion about how we better utilise the roads and transport options we have, instead of endlessly looking to build new lanes for even more traffic. Infrastructure Victoria has proposed off-peak public transport fares to give an incentive for public transport commuters to avoid the peak-hour crush, and for more drivers to give up their cars during the week.
‘What’s exciting is how all this information can help people make smarter decisions about how and when they travel.’
RACV senior planner mobility futures, Stuart Outhred, advocates this and believes the rise of data has another benefit we’re not yet utilising. “All this data is being generated through thousands of individual devices such as your mobile phone, gantries that read your e-tag on freeways, sensors at traffic lights and on bike lanes,” says Stuart.
“What’s exciting is how all this information can help people make smarter decisions about how and when they travel. By being more sophisticated in how these data sets are crunched, and integrating information across all modes and services, the community should get a better transport offering; fewer delays, more frequent services, all hopefully leading to a less stressful, healthier commute. I like to think we can get genuine public value out of this new world of mobility data.”
Redspot survey’s new data drive
RACV’s biennial Redspot Survey into Melbourne’s traffic congestion has a dramatic new methodology this year. RACV senior traffic engineer, Tina Webb, says that in previous years, the survey was based on questions put to road users about which intersections they considered to be the worst in the city.
“But in 2018, we’re tapping into the vast databank relating to traffic flow held by Intelematics’ SUNA, a real-time traffic monitoring data company that is majority-owned by RACV,” she says.
Intelematics has sliced and diced its data to tell us Melbourne’s worst road sections in terms of actual performance (or lack thereof) in peak periods compared to measured free-flow performance.
“They’ve used data from months of travel, but excluded weekends, school holidays and public holidays,” Tina says.
RACV members will still get to vote on the road sections that frustrate them the most, but this time it will be from a pre-chosen, data-proven list of the worst of the worst.
The aim, as always, is to raise awareness of artery blockages within the road system, as a means of advocating for road and public transport action by government and future planners.