Traffic in Melbourne is tipped to get “much worse” than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, with modelling from Victoria’s peak infrastructure body revealing people are expected to ditch public transport for their cars.
Infrastructure Victoria predicted an expected 15 per cent rise in the number of car trips taken on inner-Melbourne roads.
Traffic is currently at 92 per cent of pre-COVID levels, and Infrastructure Victoria expects it to climb to 100,000 more car trips per day than pre-COVID levels, unless the state government intervenes.
A new report released on Wednesday showed the boycott on public transport would put a massive strain on the city’s roads, seeing some of them significantly slow down the morning rush around the heart of the city by 20 to 30 per cent, with average speeds of just 20km/h.
Infrastructure Victoria also found social distancing was possible on more than 90 per cent of morning train services, meaning commuters could remain safe even if 75 per cent of the CBD workforce returned to the office.
But they forecast motorists would take a cautious approach over the next 12 to 18 months and not commute unless more changes were made.
Vehicle trips between 5km and 20km were expected to surge across inner Melbourne.
Infrastructure Victoria deputy Chief Executive Jonathan Spear predicted “much worse” congestion in the inner suburbs than before the pandemic hit.
“We’re looking at having about 15 per cent more driving around that area, that’s about 100,000 more car trips per day on top of what we had pre-COVID,” he told 3AW on Wednesday.
Mr Spear said staggering work times and encouraging more people to walk or cycle to work would be the key to avoiding congestion nightmares.
“If we can do these things … that will reduce the congestion on the roads, it will maximise our ability to actually socially distance on public transport and it will mean we’re setting ourselves up better habits, and a better way of getting around the city than we did pre-COVID,” he said.