Life in the slow lane: midweek traffic the worst for Sydney drivers

If Wednesday morning feels like a grind, here could be your reason why: Sydney's traffic is at its worst heading into the middle of the working week, new data has found.

The information, collected across last year, also supports what many drivers may have already long suspected - traffic in the harbour city is the worst in the country, and among the worst in the world.

The GPS maker TomTom used live traffic data and GPS information from mobile devices - more than 92 million vehicle kilometre's worth, in total - to monitor how long it takes to travel through Sydney. It found a typical driver on an average trip was in the car for 34 per cent longer than the same journey would otherwise take in free-flowing traffic.

That converted to an additional 38 minutes longer per hour, or almost 90 hours a year based on a 30-minute commute.

Melbourne and Perth recorded an average congestion level of 27 per cent, under the annual index, which recorded a figure of 23 per cent for Brisbane.

Wednesday mornings edged out Tuesdays and Thursdays to generally be the worst time to be on the road in Sydney, while Friday mornings usually promised the most free-flowing traffic of the working week. But those same drivers heading home to start their weekends encountered the worst evening traffic of the five days analysed, it found.

Sydney's most notorious stretches of road were also among the most congested. The Eastern Distributor south of Moore Park Road, Old South Head Road and the Pacific Highway at Chatswood all made the list. As did the southern portion of Lady Game Drive; Military Road between Neutral Bay and Manly; and Parramatta Road in Camperdown, as well as the start of the M4. The Princes Highway through to King Street in Newtown and on to City Road and Broadway was also included.

NRMA president Wendy Machin said the results were not surprising, but could be addressed by closing gaps in the road network or improving traffic management. ''All-day clearways in some areas, maybe that has to be considered,'' she said.

But the University of NSW's Professor of Sustainable Urbanism, Michael Neuman, said Sydney needed to address its ''third-world'' public transport.

''The most cost-effective solution is excellent and varied public transport,'' he said, adding the congestion findings were in line with that of other studies.

The data found the worst day to be on the road last year was November 22 – a Friday marked by thunderstorms.

''If you have bad storms, most cities nearly shut, or close down for a period, as the network recovers,'' said TomTom's Asia Pacific vice-president, Chris Kearney.

Mr Kearney said the company collected the data to use in its GPS navigation devices and transport services, but it was also being used by governments for traffic planning and management.

On a global scale, Sydney was 17th on a list of the world's most congested cities measured in more than 40 countries - narrowly placing behind London and Athens.

Moscow, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro, in that order, secured the top three spots.

The story Life in the slow lane: midweek traffic the worst for Sydney drivers first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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