The average Australian commute grew from 3.7 hours wasted to 4.5 dead, dead hours to every week, which is a long time to get to work unless you’re immortal.
And all those smug people who live in the smaller cities and got to boast about how quick their commute was – Canberra and Adelaide, basically – had that condescending smile wiped off their dumb faces with the news that they were still spending nearly an hour getting to work.
“Sydney had the longest average daily commutes (71 minutes). In 2017, it was followed by Brisbane (67 minutes), Melbourne (65 minutes), Perth (59 minutes) and Adelaide (56 minutes),” the Conversation has reported.
“Reasons for the increasing commute time vary among different cities but may include increased road congestion, urban expansion and poor public transport services.”
Also, the proportion of people travelling two or more hours to work is now almost one in five. So… yeah.
So what are the answers to this slow growth of daily time burned off in traffic that you don’t ever get back?
One way would be for companies to move to where people are living, but that’s generally a big ask; the other costs of running a business are generally lower in places where stuff is easy to get. Also, businesses tend to clump together, which is why you get central business districts.
Some employers allow their staff to claim their commute time as work provided that they’re on their computers and phones during the journey. That could work OK for writers and helpdesk staff, but probably less useful if your job is selling hot chickens.
That also assumes that people are on trains and buses rather than in cars, which becomes less and less likely the further from the CBD one gets; especially in states where the approach to public transport is more death-by-a-thousand-cuts than about serving the commuting classes.
Another is to do a better job of high-density living than we’ve managed so far. After all, there are many, many, many cities which rather nail the lots of people in limited space thing. However… well, Sydney’s recent history of building robust apartment blocks has been somewhat chequered.
Or we could just go “seeing as though a huge slab of our jobs are about to be taken by AI anyway, maybe it’s time to abandon this whole notion of ‘working all the time and then eventually dying’ idea and evolve to a better way of living.”
So yeah. Maybe download a lot of podcasts; on the current evidence you’re going to have an increasing amount of time to kill.