Photos of morning commute show dire Aussie housing problem: 'It's awful'
Reports of hour-long delays and traffic 1km long is just one problem Melbourne and Sydney homeowners are facing.
For residents living in Melbourne's northern suburbs, the morning commute starts with a kilometre-long queue — and that's before they even make it to any major connecting roads or highways.
Those living in Kalkallo, 50km north of Melbourne, are faced with hour-long delays just to leave their housing estate due to a lack of roads and infrastructure in the newly developed area. It's a problem felt in other major cities, including Sydney, Professor Ian Wright told Yahoo News Australia.
Photos shared on Twitter by ABC reporter Margaret Paul show dozens of cars queuing on a residential road attempting to leave their estate in Kalkallo. As shocking as it seems, the traffic is a daily occurrence according to locals and "the frustration is intense", Paul said.
"This queue goes 500m back into the housing estate," she wrote at 8am on Tuesday morning. "I’ve seen people overtaking on the wrong side of the road and driving onto the grass to turn left." But some 15 minutes later the length of the queue doubled, jumping from 500 metres to a 1km.
Paul said she'd seen only three buses over a one-hour period, highlighting the lack of public transport in the area. It's a frustration that's common across Melbourne's booming outer suburbs, where experts say growth is outpacing infrastructure, especially transport, she wrote for the ABC last month.
Evan Mulholland, a member for the Northern Metropolitan Region, admits the area has seen "a lot of neglect", mostly due to a lack of advocacy.
"As someone who has lived in the northern suburbs my entire life, I recognise the need for strong local advocacy on issues, particularly roads and public transport," he said, The North Central Review reported.
Nationwide issue with Aussies 'desperate' for affordable housing
Marsden Park in Sydney's western suburbs is experiencing the same issue causing lengthy and costly commutes to work. In addition to that, a lack of schooling, shops and parks has left many families struggling.
Professor Wright, an associate professor in the School of Science at Western Sydney University says people are being sold the "great Australia dream" with "desperation and affordable housing" drawing them to the area, but "poor planning" is letting them down.
"I think there is this absolute desperation for families [to get] a roof over [their] head. That Aussie dream; having a family, having your own house," he told Yahoo. "Then there is this promise of 'yeah, the high schools are coming, the shops will be coming, the train line will get extended. It's all these promises and it's just awful."
New Sydney housing estates 'miles away from facilities'
According to the latest data, there are just over 16,500 people living in Marsden Park, but the local council estimates that by 2040 more than 53,000 will call it home. One of the closest public high schools in the area is at The Ponds near Schofields, some 10km away. But the school is reportedly almost 70 per cent over capacity.
Professor Wright said new estates, like the one in Marsden Park, offer "really nice houses and a nice cul de sac for children to play in" but the issue is they're "miles away from facilities" with "awful, awful traffic". He believes "all three levels of government have really contributed to this" and is calling for a change
One resident told the ABC her commute to work at Sydney Airport can sometimes mean a four-hour round trip on public transport. The other alternative is a three-hour drive which costs her $44 a day in tolls.
Photo highlights major problem facing Aussie renters: 'Needs to end'
Inadequate roads pose safety concerns
There's also a much bigger problem at hand in Marsden Park and the Hawkesbury in the Greater Western Sydney area. Much of its surrounds is on flood-prone land and without adequate infrastructure, including upgraded roads, the suburbs are at risk of going under.
A photo shared on Twitter shows the close proximity Marsden Park is to Windsor which was impacted by major flooding last year. "One road for access, which is also the evac route for Windsor, South Windsor & Windsor Downs," the online poster wrote, highlighting the problem.
Exactly Ian. This is Marsden Park. The home lots inside the red circle are shown on spatial mapping as being below the 1:100 flood height.
One road for access, which is also the evac route for Windsor, South Windsor & Windsor Downs. pic.twitter.com/kTBji9vVRB
— I live in the Hawkesbury (@VWHawkesbury) February 20, 2023
Professor Wright said he's been driving on the same road (Richmond Road) for almost 40 years, and it's about time the government considered an upgrade, he said.
"The only new transport infrastructure that the state government has built out there was the New Windsor Bridge, which has flooded three times in four years," he said. "You should at least have infrastructure that is sufficiently high to get people in and out [in an emergency]".
What will fix the problem?
While he praises the Coalition government in NSW for its initiatives including the $16.8 billion WestConnex toll road and new $12.4 billion budget for four Metro train lines, Professor Wright believes "there's [still] a notable gap in the transport infrastructure servicing these new development areas".
With rising mortgage rates, and fixed interest rates soon ending, for many homeowners the professor fears the problem will "just get worse and worse" with more people forced to move further out of Sydney.
"We tend to follow this model of 'put suburbs in and then afterwards we'll catch up with all the services'," he said, adding there "needs to be a cultural change". The city needs to return to planning where facilities like schools, hospitals, roads, and libraries are considered before housing development, he said, but added "transport should come first".
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