News report by Rebecca David – As published in HERALDSUN.COM.AU on Wednesday, January 29, 2020

As Victorian children return to school this week, new data reveals school traffic can make trips more than 10 times longer on some major roads.

Research from traffic tracker Intelematics’s shows school pick-up and drop-off has a “significant” effect on travel times across Melbourne when compared with holiday periods.

The figures reveal CityLink between Burnley and Kooyong, which could normally take 10 seconds to drive, could have delays making trips 16 times longer during school peak hours.

School traffic added about 2.44 minutes to the average northwest-bound drive on the toll road when compared with the holiday period, Intelematics says.

A section of the Princes Freeway between Brooklyn and Laverton North that would take about 32 seconds during the school holiday peak, could blow out to more than seven minutes.

Intelematics used data from thousands of sensors on roads and in cars to calculate the delays.

The study focused on major roads for accuracy purposes and did not take into account congestion on local streets around schools.

Intelematics chief product officer, Denise Christie said they had analysed the data to see what caused congestion. ” We all have a feeling that traffic is worse when school goes back and, in fact, those feelings are valid,” she said. “The thing to note as well is that these figures are for short sections of road, so what might seem like a couple of minutes here and there, it does add up over the trip.”

RACV transport and infrastructure senior manager Peter Kartsidimas said decision-makers needed to examine ways to ease Melbourne’s crippling and worsening transport congestion.

“RACV’s 2018 Red Spot results revealed that the morning and afternoon peak times have actually expanded under the pressure of growing numbers of drivers,” he said. “To help ease congestion around school zones. RACV is encouraging parents to walk or cycle with their kids to school to support an active and healthy lifestyle.”

University of Melbourne transport engineering expert Majid Sarvi said it was no surprise traffic congestion increased during the school term.

“There are some areas across the network where an increase in traffic of even the smallest percentage can push areas over the edge in terms of congestion,” he said.

Road projects across the city were just “catching up” to what was needed, he said.

The $4 billion Suburban Roads Upgrade aimed to add lanes and clear bottlenecks on 20 of Melbourne’s most important arterial roads.

“With the return of school and school speed zones, we’re asking drivers to slow down and be alert, because even a small reduction in speed can dramatically increase the chance of a child surviving being hit by a car,” Mr Fletcher said.

The worst spots

  1. CityLink (city-bound, through Burnley and Kooyong)
    Extra 2.44 minutes of travel time, an increase of 1625 per cent
  2. Princes Freeway (northeast-bound, Brooklyn and Laverton North)
    Extra 7.11 minutes, an increase of 1354 per cent
  3. Fitzgerald Rd (northbound, Laverton)
    Extra 1.18 minutes, an increase of 846 per cent
  4. South Gippsland Highway (northbound, Dandenong South)
    Extra 1.29 minutes, an increase of 319 per cent
  5. Western Ring Rd (southbound, Laverton)
    Extra 48 seconds, an increase of 259 per cent
  6. Punt Rd (northbound, South Yarra)
    Extra 2.29 minutes, an increase of 246 per cent
  7. Grange Rd (northbound, Burnley/Toorak)
    Extra 46 seconds, an increase of 235 per cent
  8. Frankston-Dandenong Rd (northbound, Dandenong South)
    Extra 1.10 minutes, an increase of 190 per cent
  9. Hoddle St (northbound, East Melbourne)
    Extra 52 seconds, an increase of 181 per cent
  10. Kings Way (northbound, South Melbourne/Southbank)
    Extra 1.52 minutes, an increase of 159 per cent

The insights for this report were derived from Intelematics Traffic Flow data