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Australian cities not keeping up with commuter needs: IBM Commuter Pain Study

-The majority of Australians are stressed by their daily commute affecting health, lifestyles and Australia’s productivity -Accurate and timely information on road conditions key to reducing stress for Australians -National study highlights Australian commuter habits and frustrations

Sydney, Australia - 17 Feb 2011: The majority of Australian commuters are stressed as a result of their daily trips to and from work, university or school and are willing to embrace technology to change their travel experience, according to recent findings from IBM’s Australian Commuter Pain study. As many as 81 per cent of drivers experience travel stress yet much of this could be reduced by the greater use of technology in the management of traffic flows and more flexibility in the way we approach work. Almost half (47 per cent) of those surveyed believe improved public transportation will help reduce their travel stress and this can be achieved by sophisticated analytics of transport systems, indicating that building new infrastructure is only part of the solution. Other technological solutions include introducing greater flexibility to work from home (35 per cent) and accurate and timely information on road conditions (31 per cent). The first of its kind study in Australia illustrates how traffic is interfering with quality of life and the health and productivity of Australians at work.

The survey of over 1,500 commuters, distributed throughout Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth looked at differences in metropolitan commuting patterns and the effects roadway traffic and work, university and school performance have on a person’s health and lifestyle.

Our rising dependency on cars is driving a growing number of problems for Australia, including traffic congestion, pollution, higher fuel prices and increased driver stress.The survey found that driving a car alone is the main mode of transportation by which most Australians commute to and from work, university or school (63 per cent). This is more common in Perth (70 per cent), Brisbane (69 per cent) and Adelaide (67 per cent) than in Sydney (62 per cent) and Melbourne (58 per cent). In the last three years, 22 per cent of drivers experienced roadway traffic so bad that they turned around and went home. This response to chronic congestion is highest in Sydney (27 per cent) and Brisbane (25 per cent) and lowest in Adelaide (11 per cent) and Perth (11 per cent).

“These findings indicate that the daily commute in Australia’s biggest cities is longer and more painful than ever before. It reflects the reality that our transport infrastructure is not keeping pace with continuing economic growth in this country,” said John Hawkins, Smarter Transportation Industry Expert, IBM Australia. “Building more roads is not enough to solve these issues; introducing smarter technology that can provide real-time information to transportation officials and commuters will help reduce commuter stress and ease traffic congestion.”

The IBM study also shows that our reliance on cars for commuting severely impacts the nation’s health and stress levels. 41 per cent of drivers believe that traffic has negatively affected their health, and 39 per cent believe it has negatively affected their performance at work or school/university. Sydney commuters are worst off, with 50 per cent of drivers in that city experiencing negative health effects, whilst the least affected are in Adelaide (28 per cent) and Perth (28 per cent). Among those who believe that traffic has negatively affected their health, increased stress (77 per cent) and anger (52 per cent) are the primary symptoms.

IBM Commuter Pain Index
IBM compiled the results of the survey into an Index that ranks the emotional and economic toll of commuting in each city on a scale of one to 100, with 100 being the most onerous. The Index reveals a tremendous disparity in the pain of the daily commute from city to city. Globally, Beijing and Mexico City had the most painful commute, and Stockholm had the least painful commute, of the cities studied. Here's how the cities stack up:

IBM Commuter Pain Study - Australian index

The index is comprised of 10 issues: 1) commuting time, 2) time stuck in traffic, agreement that: 3) price of gas is already too high, 4) traffic has gotten worse, 5) start-stop traffic is a problem, 6) driving causes stress, 7) driving causes anger, 8) traffic affects work, 9) traffic so bad driving stopped, and 10) decided not to make trip due to traffic.

Surprisingly, Brisbane is the most stressed Australian city, topping the nation with 90 per cent of its residents facing increased stress due to roadway traffic, followed by Adelaide (81 per cent), Melbourne (78 per cent), Sydney (74 per cent) and Perth, which has the least number of stressed commuters (73 per cent).

82 per cent of Australian drivers find aspects of their commute frustrating, including stop start traffic (57 per cent), low speed (36 per cent), aggressive/rude drivers (30 per cent) and unreliable journey times (26 per cent).

Commuters in Sydney face the longest commute times in the country, with an average time of 35 minutes.
- Many commuters feel a significant reduction in their daily commute times would allow them to do many other things, most would prefer to spend more time with family (52 per cent), exercise (51 per cent) or sleep (50 per cent).
- One in three drivers decided not to make a driving trip in the last month, with most of these trips cancelled due to anticipated traffic conditions (53 per cent). Some drivers did not cancel their trip but chose to go by public transport (26 per cent) or an alternative mode of transport (22 per cent). This could have an economic impact, when you consider that the reported destination for the cancelled trips was work (17%).

Concluding Hawkins said: “We commissioned this study to understand the realities of daily travel that commuters face and what alternatives - such as car pooling, public transportation, and working from home – might improve their commute. Taking into account travellers’ suggestions on how transportation in their cities can be improved will help government, urban planners, and industry design and deliver smarter transportation systems that reduce congestion and the stress it creates, as well as reduce the carbon footprint of our cities.”

IBM Commuter Pain Study
The study conducted by Galaxy Research surveyed adult drivers aged 18-64 years and included 1,556 respondents distributed throughout Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth during October 2010.

IBM is actively working in the area of Smarter Transportation using a worldwide team of scientists, industry experts and IT services professionals to research, test and deploy new traffic information management capabilities in cities around the world. Findings from the Commuter Pain Survey will be used to assess citizen concerns about traffic and commuter issues; expand solutions like automated tolling, real-time traffic prediction, congestion charging, and intelligent route planning; and serve as a basis for pioneering innovative new approaches to traffic mitigation.

About IBM:
For more information about IBM, please visit www.ibm.com/ibm/au

Note to Editors:
For images, b-roll, major findings fact sheet, whitepaper and case studies, please visit http://www-03.ibm.com/press/au/en/presskit/33518.wss.

Contact(s) information

Jessica Griffin
IBM A/NZ External Relations
+64 9359 8458
+64 212 431 035
jgriffin@nz1.ibm.com

Karen Wells
Text 100 Public Relations for IBM
+61 2 9956 5733
+61 406 483 760
Karen.wells@text100.com.au

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The index is comprised of 10 issues: 1) commuting time, 2) time stuck in traffic, agreement that: 3) price of gas is already too high, 4) traffic has gotten worse, 5) start-stop traffic is a problem, 6) driving causes stress, 7) driving causes anger, 8) traffic affects work, 9) traffic so bad driving stopped, and 10) decided not to make trip due to traffic. The cities scored as follows: Beijing: 99, Mexico City: 99, Johannesburg: 97, Moscow: 84, New Delhi: 81, Sao Paolo: 75, Milan: 52, Buenos Aires: 50, Madrid: 48, Sydney: 40 London: 36, Paris: 36, Brisbane: 34, Toronto: 32, Melbourne: 32, Auckland: 28, Amsterdam: 25, Los Angeles: 25, Berlin: 24, Montreal: 23, Christchurch: 23, Adelaide: 22, New York: 19, Perth: 19, Houston: 17, Wellington: 17, Stockholm: 15.

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