Perth congestion soars as commuters returning to work shun public transport
Jul 03, 2020
By Marta Pascual Juanola
Western Australia may have flattened the COVID-19 curve – at least for now – but Perth commuters are still wary of catching public transport.
Data from the City of Perth shows most people are choosing to drive to the CBD instead of catching the bus or the train, catapulting congestion to nearly pre-pandemic levels.
While patronage on the Transperth network has increased since its historical low in March, there are 150,000 less SmartRider transactions a day than the same time last year.
Traffic along Perth's main thoroughfares has also increased from about a million cars per week in April to 1.4 million in June, inching closer to pre-COVID-19 numbers.
This has translated into council-owned carparks reaching capacity by about 8am most weekdays.
A worker at St Georges Terrace's QV1 building, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was forced to drive back home after being unable to find an available bay in three CBD carparks.
"I park in the QV1 carpark and generally don't have any issues getting a spot," he said.
"At around 9.45am the QV1 carpark was full, as was the City of Perth carpark across the road, as was the Wilson carpark a bit further up Murray Street. After driving to the top of three carparks I gave up and drove home."
With more workers tipped to return to the office in coming weeks, the City of Perth said the current situation was "unsustainable".
"The city has observed increasing levels of congestion with each announcement by Premier [Mark McGowan] on the lifting of restrictions," a report by the council read.
"Commuters need to be encouraged back onto the public transport system to ensure that the transport network is optimised."
In a bid to deter commuters from driving to work, the City of Perth will reinstate street parking fees and gradually increase the reduced $10-a-day fares at council-owned carparks rolled out in the height of the pandemic from July 20.
However, the free three-hour parking trials at His Majesty’s Theatre, Pier Street and Perth Cultural Centre, and the one-hour free parking trials along Hay and Royal streets will continue.
City of Perth chair commissioner Andrew Hammond said the move would free up street bays for shoppers and short-term parkers and boost local trade.
"Main Roads WA data suggests the city’s current fee structure of $10 a day at CPP carparks is encouraging commuters to travel by car," he said.
"With a large proportion of city workers and commuters currently parking in the city’s carparks, the city has also received feedback from city businesses that shoppers and other short-term parkers are finding it very difficult to find parking.
"In addition to reducing congestion by encouraging commuters back on to public transport, it is envisaged this initiative will provide shoppers with better access to parking, therefore supporting local business."
Council carparks make up about 25 per cent of the Perth's total offering.
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