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If you think traffic on Punt Road is worse than it’s ever been, you’re right.
Congestion on Punt Road has become more extreme since the COVID-19 pandemic, new data by mapping company HERE Technologies reveals.
Peak hour traffic on Punt Road on Monday.CREDIT:EDDIE JIM
Motorists are now being delayed by an extra two minutes on a section of the key arterial road in Melbourne’s inner-north, compared with trip times before the coronavirus hit. However, traffic on Melbourne’s major freeways remains less congested than during pre-COVID times.
Separate modelling by the Andrews government has confirmed the trend. Transport Department data indicated that arterial roads are carrying higher traffic volumes, while freeway volumes are slightly lower.
Arterial road traffic is at its worst during the middle of the day and the early stage of the afternoon peak, government modelling shows. People are making fewer trips to and from the CBD during the peak periods and more localised journeys.
The spike in road traffic comes as commuters avoid using public transport due to fears of contracting the virus, despite Victorian government efforts to boost passenger numbers by discounting off-peak trips, adding 450 weekly services and releasing an app that provides real-time data on crowding. Victoria reported 17 days with no new local coronavirus cases on Monday.
The state government predicted it will take up to three years for public transport passenger numbers to exceed 2019 levels. Until then, Melbourne’s roads look set to face a period of heightened congestion.
Data from HERE Technologies shows trips between the corner of Swan Street and Punt Road and the corner of Hoddle and Johnston streets took 14 minutes in February 2020, before the pandemic lockdowns. This has now increased to 16 minutes – a 14 per cent rise. During the COVID-19 lockdown in July, it took just 7½ minutes to complete the trip.
This contrasts with traffic patterns on major freeways, where traffic is still flowing more smoothly than it was early last year. Trip times on the Monash and Tullamarine freeways are 54 per cent and 43 per cent faster than pre-pandemic levels, respectively.
Monash University chair of public transport Graham Currie, who last year released the most comprehensive study on travel impacts of the coronavirus, said the data indicating an increase in congestion on Punt Road matched his own findings.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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