Commuter stress transforms work, home life in the long term: report

Commuter stress transforms work, home life in the long term: report

Barbara Griffiths' morning bus ride from Lyneham to Civic is a time to collect her thoughts and dodge a stressful car trip down one of the city's busiest commuter corridors.

Ms Griffiths, an office manager, chose a 20 minute journey on public transport when she started working in the city two months ago after years of travelling to Manuka each day by car.

Barbara Griffiths of Lyneham waits for her bus home from Civic after work on Thursday.

Barbara Griffiths of Lyneham waits for her bus home from Civic after work on Thursday. Credit:Rohan Thomson

"It's sensible to get on the bus and save myself a lot of money, you know how much the parking costs in the city these days."

She said she was one of the lucky ones as she lived on a good bus route that weaved through backstreets in O'Connor and Turner, instead of going down Northbourne Avenue, and stopped close to her workplace.


"I find it's convenient and by getting on the bus you actually have time to focus your mind on what you've got to get done, rather than focus on the road."

New research this week showed the ACT's shifting urban and economic geography had left Canberrans with longer commutes to work and growing centralised employment in the city and around the airport.

SGS Economics & Planning found those employment hubs had become increasingly separated from housing that was mostly being built on the city's fringes and in neighbouring NSW towns.

It comes as a study from Australian National University's School of Sociology found stress generated by a person's daily commute could have a profound impact on a person's work and home life and how they viewed their city.

Dr David Bissell​'s report, Understanding the impacts of commuting, delved into the long-term impacts of daily work trips.

"In the short term, many people reported having a bad incident on their commute, like road rage, and it wasn't easy to shake it off and really impacted their mood," Dr Bissell said.

He said commuter stress also had a cumulative effect which could build to 'tipping points' where people change their route or mode of travel, or even move house.

On the flipside, more commuters employed technology and used their time on public transport to work or communicate with friends and family.

Dr Bissell said changes to public transport such as the proposed Capital Metro project could drastically transform the capital.

"I think [light rail] would change the very atmosphere of Canberra and lend a sense of vitality to the city.

"The idea of the tram in most cities is rapid transport, so you can just rock up and go and you don't have to be fixated on a timetable and there aren't those empty gaps of waiting for a bus."

Dr Bissell said a light rail route to the city's centre would also be a boon to thriving night-spots around Civic and Braddon by providing a cheap and safe way to get to and from the city at night.

"At the moment people going to Canberra's new, buzzing night-time economy are having to fork out for a very expensive taxi ride home."

Megan Gorrey is a reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald. She was previously a reporter at The Canberra Times.