Growing cities

Population growth

A key sign that a city will need new and better transport and other infrastructure in the future is its population growth. It makes sense: when a city’s population grows, all transport modes carry increasing numbers of people. If infrastructure doesn’t keep up with growth, public transport becomes overcrowded and roads become congested, impacting a city’s productivity, growth and liveability.

We operate roads in three Australian capital cities, and in the United States of America and Canada. In all of these cities, the next few decades of population growth is going to put increasing pressure on already stretched transport networks.

Growing cities

Population growth

A key sign that a city will need new and better transport and other infrastructure in the future is its population growth. It makes sense: when a city’s population grows, all transport modes carry increasing numbers of people. If infrastructure doesn’t keep up with growth, public transport becomes overcrowded and roads become congested, impacting a city’s productivity, growth and liveability.

We operate roads in three Australian capital cities, and in the United States of America and Canada. In all of these cities, the next few decades of population growth is going to put increasing pressure on already stretched transport networks.

Population growth

Residential populations are expected to increase in all cities we operate in.
Populations in these cities are projected to increase from 14%–42% during the next two decades.

Population growth by city

Check the tabs to see:

Congestion in 2031

With more people moving around cities, congestion—across all forms of transport—is set to increase. In 2019, Infrastructure Australia predicted that the total cost of road congestion will be $39.6 billion by 2031, while public transport crowding will cost $837 million.

Check the graph to see how much congestion is predicted to grow in each city by 2031.

People are concerned about congestion

We surveyed people in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland about their attitudes to congestion in 2021. Our survey found 93% of people in metro areas are concerned about congestion. And 28% of these people said they are very concerned. We conducted this research as part of our Urban Mobility Trends report series.

How toll roads ease congestion

Transurban’s roads are designed to enable free-flowing traffic, and also enable motorists to choose quicker and more reliable travel compared to alternate routes.

Every workday our customers save a combined 376,000 hours in travel time.

You can find out more information on the value our roads generate for our customers and the cities in which we operate via the link below.

Funding transport infrastructure

Funding transport infrastructure

While increasing congestion is a concern for most people, addressing this through transport infrastructure ranks below other public priorities. In the August 2022 edition of our Urban Mobility Trends report we found most people think cost of living and hospitals/healthcare require more focus. With government budgets highly indebted due to COVID-19 responses and facing competing public funding priorities, most people support private sector investment in transport infrastructure.

Creating a more sustainable road funding model

Most governments around the world collect fuel excise on every litre or gallon of petrol and diesel.
Revenue from fuel excise contributes towards the construction and maintenance of roads.

Australian fuel excise rate and revenue
46

cents per litre

Current fuel excise rate

$11.6B

(2018–19)

As shown below, in Australia, fuel excise makes up a decent chunk (37%) of all revenue collected from road-related activities.
Governments at all levels (federal, state/territory and local) contribute financially to transport infrastructure development.

More cars, less fuel excise

While total vehicle kilometres driven has increased by around 36% since 1997–98, net fuel excise collected by the Federal Government has declined by around 20% in real terms.

Part of why excise revenue is decreasing is simply that vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient. The graph shows how fuel excise collected per vehicle kilometre travelled has been declining for decades.

Fuel excise collected contributes to the construction and maintenance of roads. A growing backlog of needed infrastructure projects, along with the fact more people intend to use private vehicles post-COVID-19 (see Mobility reports), means transport infrastructure funding reform is becoming increasingly urgent.

Road user charging

If the existence of fuel excise—and how roads are funded in Australia—are news to you, you’re not alone. Our survey on this topic found more than 80% of respondents knew absolutely nothing, or very little about how Australia funds the construction and maintenance of its roads.

The August 2022 edition of our Urban Mobility Trends report included questions about awareness of road funding and the role of fuel excise.

While most people said they were aware of fuel excise, only 21% of people surveyed in Montreal, 20% in Australia and 10% in the Greater Washington Area could accurately identify how much they pay per litre.


A sustainable alternative to fuel-excise

An alternative taxation model to Australia’s current system of fuel excise and other charges is a road-usage charge. Motorists would pay for their usage, with charges set for each trip taken, each kilometre travelled or at a capped daily rate.

In our August 2021 Urban Mobility Trends report, we asked people in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to evaluate the two funding models (fuel excise vs road use charging) based on descriptions of the current system and a hypothetical per-kilometre road-user charge.

After comparing both models:

50%

preferred a road-user charge

32%*

preferred the current funding model

18%

were undecided

*Preference for the current funding model decreased to 23% after respondents learned sticking with the current model may
potentially lead to reduced government funding for future roads and infrastructure projects.