The burden of long commutes
Hayden Lavigne wrote this article as part of their Bachelor of Architectural Design 3rd year elective, MADAboutMADA. In the elective, students are introduced to digital media and how it can be relevant to the architecture, design and art professions.
While commute times have increased over the past decade, a Pricewaterhouse Cooper report predicts that without investments in transport infrastructure, commutes could increase further (Davies 2019). While the Victorian Governments big transport agenda is helping, constant construction is causing further unreliability and delays (Victoria's Big Build 2019). Travel can be even worse if you don’t have access to good public transport, causing even higher rates of lost productivity and reduced mental wellbeing.
Sustained population growth in Melbourne has led to increased commute times in and around the city, including to Monash University campuses (Jacks 2019). Due to the higher cost of living in Melbourne, many students cannot afford to live near or on-campus, instead being pushed into the outer suburbs and beyond. Some students are travelling from as far as Geelong and Traralgon with unreliability a significant concern for these students (Jacks 2019).
Our aging public transport system has increasingly become unreliable. Whilst the government has been working on improving it, it has only been playing catch up with most train lines being less punctual now than they were 20 years ago (Jacks 2019). Unreliability means that it can be very difficult to make it to class on time and in some cases causing students to miss major assessments (Jacks 2019).
Travel times are even worse for those unlucky enough to live on lines that don’t serve Monash’s main campuses. Travel by train from Clayton station to Caulfield station, a 10-kilometre journey, takes 15 minutes. In contrast, Glen Waverly to Caulfield a journey which is also 10 -kilometres takes 46 minutes (at best), over 3 times longer, due to the poor connections between trainlines.
The long hours spent on public transport contributes to a significant amount of lost productivity. My own travel to university takes 1 hour and 10 minutes door to door, representing at least 7 hours of my working week. Assuming I’m getting 8 hours of sleep, that means 15% of my waking day is spent traveling.
For those living in outer suburban and regional areas, a huge proportion of their week is spent travelling. A survey run in the United Kingdom found that 73% of 25 to 34 year old’s thought that their commutes negatively impact their stress levels ("Is Your Commute To Work Harming Your Mental Health?" 2019). This highlights the impacts of traveling longs distances for work or studies.
With commuting having such a detrimental effect on our health, it’s clear we need more options for living closer to university. Monash currently has over 70,000 student and yet only has enough on campus housing for 3,000 student or 4% (Accommodation 2019). Whilst there are off-campus options, this significant gap is why many students have to commute from far away.
Commuting around Melbourne on a daily basis, can be difficult and time consuming. There is great inequality for those who have good access to public transport and those who don’t. Generally, those living further away from the city have greatly increased commute times and with that, comes a range of other issues.
- Davies, Alan. 2019. "Could The Average Trip To Work Nearly Double By 2030? – The Urbanist". Crikey. https://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2017/06/22/average-commute-nearly-double-2030/.
- "Is Your Commute To Work Harming Your Mental Health?". 2019. Open Access Government. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/commute-to-work-mental-health/64049/.
- Jacks, Timna. 2019. "Melbourne's Booming Population Takes Its Toll On City's Trains". The Age. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/melbourne-s-booming-population-takes-its-toll-on-city-s-trains-20180330-p4z72b.html.
- Jacks, Timna. 2019. "The West Has Melbourne's Worst Commutes - Four Hours A Day Across Town". The Age. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/the-west-has-melbourne-s-worst-commutes-four-hours-a-day-across-town-20180301-p4z28i.html.
- University of Melbourne. 2019. "HILDA Statistical Report 2019". HILDA Annual. Melbourne.
- Victoria's Big Build. 2019. "High Capacity Metro Trains". Melbourne.
- "Accommodation". 2019. Residential Services. https://www.monash.edu/accommodation/accommodation.