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Melbourne take a bow. We're not only on track to overtake Sydney as the biggest Australian city, we now match it for clogged streets.
And despite billions of dollars to be spent building a new toll road in Melbourne's west, traffic problems are worse in the city's north-east.
Ground-breaking new research by the Grattan Institute has debunked some big Melbourne transport myths, including that Sydney's traffic is worse than ours, and that our worst congestion is in the sprawling western suburbs.
The research findings come just days after new census data revealed Victoria grew by 146,600 or 2.4 per cent in 2016, a much higher rate than the Andrews government had planned for, and amid calls from experts for a transformative extension of the public transport network.
The Grattan Institute findings highlight Melbourne's struggle to keep up with a growth rate that, were it to continue, would see Melbourne's population rise to 10 million by 2050.
"Sydney may have half-a-million more people, and an enormous harbour constricting movements from one part of the city to another," said Grattan Institute researcher Marion Terrill, "but when it comes to congestion, Melbourne is pretty much on a par."
The Grattan Institute research raises tricky questions about the Andrews government's transport focus, notably its decision to make Transurban's contentious $5.5 billion West Gate Tunnel tollway a transport priority.
Andrew Nicholls spends hours in traffic to get to work in Abbotsford. Photo: Luis AscuiIt found that congestion is far worse for commuters from Melbourne's north-east – Doncaster, Heidelberg and beyond – than from the fast-growing west.
"It's a finding that might surprise drivers who have to crawl over the West Gate Bridge to get to and from work," said Ms Terrill. "Of course it probably won't surprise you if your commute includes time on the Eastern Freeway."
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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