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Australia’s Worst Car Commute Proves Sydneysiders Are Crazy

Our population has outgrown its infrastructure, and we love it…

In the time it takes Adam Rosewarne, a 26 year old Sydneysider, to get to work, someone from a comparable overseas (or even, domestic) city could have got half their morning’s work done. Why is this? Because, according to an ABC investigation, Adam has Australia’s worst car commute. And the 1 hour 40 minute drive isn’t even the worst of it, the most frustrating aspect is the unpredictability, with the report concluding, “Adam can spend anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes in the car, according to Google estimates of a month of his commutes.”

“The worst thing about my commute is the stress,” he told the ABC. “Not knowing what is going to happen on the roads, like an accident or a break down.” Slicing the city in two, his journey starts in Grays Point in the south of Sydney, ending at Macquarie Park in the north-west, affected by both the peak hour traffic coming into Sydney, as well as the commuters travelling out from inner Sydney to Macquarie Park.

“You’re OK with it for a bit, unhappy with it, upset with it … it can be a slow burn,” (ABC).

This information, gleaned from Google Maps’ API, showed that although his trip isn’t the longest in Australia, it has the slowest pace-distance ratio (an average speed of less than 35km per hour).

Graph showing the range of commutes in Australia (sourced from the ABC).

While this is undeniably evidence of a city whose population is outgrowing its infrastructure, people are split over how bad the problem really is. There’s locals that love it, locals that hate it, locals that grudgingly accept it, Canberra transplants who love to complain, Londoners who think: it’s not that bad, and European tourists who think we must be insane to put up with such a daily punish.

A previous investigation, “A pretentious, stressful trap: Here’s why you want to leave Sydney”, interviewed a range of Sydney-haters, with the following findings.

  • “I would like to leave, move to a regional area, and work remotely in my current role. [We] can’t afford a house, travel time is over an hour and we never have enough time to enjoy any of the good things about living in Sydney.”
  • “Sick of traffic, overpriced and increasing high density housing with not enough green space.”
  • “I’ve already left, and couldn’t be happier. Five minutes to wherever I need to go, secure job, no traffic, and a wonderful community to live in.”
  • “[Since moving] we’ve reclaimed hours each week in travel time, plus found employers with better conditions and work-life balance.”

Sydney-lovers, however, disagree.

  • “People tend to forget, or desperately fail to acknowledge… that Sydney is, without doubt, the only proper world city we have,” points out a Domain article (no one loves Sydney more than a real estate agent).
  • “In any proper global city you’ll find that, aside from some freakish examples like the entirety of Japan, the public transport is a punish, the streets are crowded (and often dirty and fetid), people are forced to commute large, sluggish distances every day, and property is expensive,” (Domain).
  • “Our traffic is bad, yes, but it’s still nowhere near as awful as LA, or London, or anywhere in China,” (Domain).
  • “Congestion is in fact a sign of good city health, a sign that people want to be there. But more than that, congestion itself draws people. Congestion is a city’s bright eyes and bushy tail,” argues Elizabeth Farrelly, SMH journalist in ‘Congestion is a cuddle’: Why I welcome Sydney traffic.
  • “Most people, including most politicians, presume (congestion) is a disaster. But there’s a reason why Sydney has a population of 5 million and Canberra of 400,000. It’s called desire,” (SMH).
  • “This is why all those liveability lists that pretend cities are part of some giant suburban comfy-competition are so wrong. Cities are not about easy. Cities are about exciting,” (SMH)
  • “It’s not simply that we don’t need motorways through the city. It’s that conceiving the city as a thoroughfare could be its destruction. Sydney is a great city not despite its congestion but because of it,” (SMH).

RELATED: How To Dress In Sydney Without Looking Like A Try Hard

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