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 population is expected to increase by 14–42% by 2041 in the cities in which we operate

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.

Congestion

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.

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
44.2

cents per litre

Current fuel excise rate
(temporarily cut to 22.1 cents per litre until September 2022)

$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.

Our August 2021 Urban Mobility Trends report [PDF] (of Victorian, News South Wales and Queensland residents) included questions about fuel excise understanding and attitudes towards different approaches to contributing to road use costs.

While 76% of respondents said they were aware of fuel excise, only 14% could accurately identify how much they pay per litre. More than 70% thought they paid less than 40 cents. And more than 40% believed they pay less than 20 cents per litre, which was less than half the current cost of fuel excise at the time the survey was in field.

We note that, from early April until September 2022, to ease escalating fuel prices, fuel excise has been cut across Australia, down to 22 cents a litre, which may have resulted in increased awareness and understanding of fuel excise.

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 [PDF], we also asked people 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.