Uber is part of the fabric of Australia’s urban centres with 3.8 million Australians actively using the Uber app to get from A to B. Because of this, through aggregated and anonymous data we can shine a spotlight on how our cities are moving, and provide insights that can help address urban transport challenges. 

With most Australian cities beginning to re-open following the height of COVID-19 restrictions the economic and social cost of road congestion is coming back into view, with congestion issues costing Australia $18.9 billion a year pre-COVID. 

People driving in their own cars was already the most popular mode to get to work pre-COVID, making up seven in 10 trips while public transport accounted for only one in ten. As lockdown restrictions ease, we are seeing that private car use is rising much faster than public transport fueling concern that road congestion in our cities could return with a vengeance. And if people are buying new cars, there is a very high ‘lock-in’ risk of another decade of traffic congestion and urban pollution.

As policy makers and transport officials grapple with this challenge, Uber is once again proud to partner with Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) to produce the 2020 Australian Travel Time Metric. The metric uses 2019 data from our Uber Movement platform to index road transport performance across each of the four major capital cities. It includes average travel delays across key corridors, such as the CBD to Airport, the impact of major events, and provides some early insights on the impact of COVID on the road network earlier this year.

At Uber, we want to work with cities to ensure we have the infrastructure and policies in place to tackle congestion and help improve our cities. We hope the insights provided by the IPA using Uber Movement data will support evidence-based decision making that helps our cities move better now, and into the future. These include continuing to invest in public transport and road infrastructure, promoting shared modes and technology, and managing network demand to alleviate congestion. We hope that this report and sharing our data will help support the business cases for some of these crucial reforms.

Key stats from the 2020 Australian Travel Time Metric include: 

  • Peak commutes in and out of the CBDs of the big four cities have largely remained steady, despite population growth, since 2015. 
  • The four largest cities also saw off-peak travel times improve over the four-year period to 2020. 
  • With over 1.3 million commuters in private vehicles – the most for any Australian city – Melbourne remains the longest morning commute for private vehicle users across the four cities.
  • COVID-19 turned Sydney’s peak hour congestion into pre-pandemic evening off-peak levels, with speeds improving in some corridors by up to 70 per cent.
  • Perth recorded the fastest overall morning commute, at under 13 minutes.
  • Brisbane commuters travelling between its outer metro and the CBD experienced the lowest share of peak delays, compared to other major cities.

The Uber Movement tool is accessible here.