Traffic returns to pre-Covid levels as workers return to the office

Peak hour pain: Traffic returns to pre-Covid levels around Australia as workers head back to the office – and some roads are busier than ever

  • Traffic on roads in Sydney and Brisbane is returning to pre-Covid levels  
  • Melbourne was the exception as it experienced a drop in traffic in March quarter
  • Sydney’s Hills M2 motorway had a 9.3 per cent rise in traffic compared to 2020
  • Across the country traffic dropped during COVID as people worked from home 

As COVID-19 restrictions are eased and more people return to the office, traffic levels around Australia are returning to pre-Covid levels.   

Road toll operator Transurban said roads in Sydney and Brisbane experienced a rise in average daily traffic in the March quarter compared to the same period in 2020. 

The jump in traffic comes as residents of cities around Australia slowly start going back into the office and onto the roads during their commute. 

Traffic is almost back to normal in Sydney and Brisbane as people return to the office

The company said Sydney’s roads had experienced a 21.8 per cent jump to 936,000 trips in this year’s March quarter or a 4.8 per cent jump when excluding the contributions from the M5/M8 East and NorthConnex.  

Transurban said in a statement to the ASX that the boosted traffic performance was due to the easing of restrictions.

‘Improved operating environment in Sydney, with the city now largely free of restrictions during the period,’ the statement read. 

In Brisbane the company wrote that average daily traffic had increased by 3.3 per cent to 403,000 trips.

Traffic rose despite the city being forced into two separate lockdowns in January and March during the quarter. 

While Sydney and Brisbane experienced rises in average daily traffic Melbourne received a fall in average daily traffic for the quarter with levels falling 15.2 per cent down to 675,000 trips.

Sydney’s best performing road was the Hills M2 motorway which was only down 3.4 per cent down on pre-covid 2019 levels

The company blamed lockdowns and mandatory masks indoors during the quarter, but noted traffic levels were improving since restrictions were eased in February. 

Transurban said traffic on Sydney’s newest roads was exceeding pre-Covid levels.

‘Average daily traffic of 37,000 on NorthConnex continues to exceed expectations set prior to COVID-19. The M8 and M5 East assets also continue to ramp up,’ it wrote.

Sydney’s best performing road, the Hills M2 motorway has almost returned to pre-Covid levels as it recorded 135,000 average daily trips over the quarter which was 9.3 per cent above the 2020 quarter and just 3.4 per cent below 2019.

Some of Sydney’s major roads recorded a rise when compared to the pre-Covid march 2019 quarter, including the M5 West motorway with an increase of 1.6%. 

Sydney’s newest roads – the NorthConnex and the M8 and M5 have both exceeded pre-covid expectations

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