I was surprised by this view attributed to RACQ Executive Manager Michael Roth in the Brisbane Times article Brisbane drivers spend three days a year stuck in traffic:
Mr Roth said there were two ways to prevent worsening congestion rates – halt growth or build infrastructure.
Mr Roth notes that we certainly don’t want to halt growth so the only alternative is to build infrastructure, noting “congestion will increase unless we build infrastructure”. Unfortunately, the experience of cities around the world is that new infrastructure can provide temporary relief, but congestion returns in time, because the new infrastructure temporarily lowers the travel-time cost of driving and encourages more people to drive.
It has become obvious around the world in recent decades that it is desirable to consider demand management options such as congestion charges – e.g. as seen in Singapore and London – which are designed to manage demand in peak periods on busy roads. Congestion charging will discourage many people who are making low-value, discretionary trips during peak times.
Ideally, congestion charging on roads would be combined with bigger differences in peak and off-peak fares (and possibly a new super-peak-period fare) for public transport to encourage commuters to travel at less congested times. It may take some time to get the exact parameters right, but I’m sure transport demand management options would compare very favourably against the multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects that are typically proposed to deal with congestion.
I’ve previously posted on the desirability of considering transport demand options: