The Morrison government often talks about its "congestion busting" infrastructure investments to free-up Australia's clogged cities.
But a new report says all this is doing is providing more roads and more public transport and even more congestion.
The Grattan Institute is calling for a new approach, saying it is time for Australian cities to follow London, Singapore, Stockholm and Milan and introduce "congestion charging".
New York is the latest global city to embrace the concept and the report's author and the institute's transport and cities director Marion Terrill says Vancouver, Beijing and Jarkarta are not far behind.
"Excessive congestion is costly and wasteful," Ms Terrill said releasing the report on Monday.
"While no one wants to pay more to drive, neither do they want the ordeal of delays and unpredictability when they do travel."
She believes a charge for people entering the CBDs of Australia's largest cities in the morning peak, and leaving in the afternoon peak, could have a substantial impact.
"Even a modest charge could mean about 40 per cent fewer cars entering the central area in the morning peak and speed increases of about one per cent across the network," she says.
While there are critics that argue against congestion charging because it could hurt those who can least afford it, Ms Terrill says these fears are overblown.
She says people who drive to the city each day for work are more than twice as likely to earn a six-figure salary - the median income for a Sydney driver to the CBD is nearly $2500 a week, about $1000 a week more than the median income of a full time worker across all of Sydney.
"Nor is it true that people have no choices," she says.
"The CBD is well-serviced by public transport, which is how most people get there."
The charges would only apply during peak periods.
"In the end, if particular roads are in high demand, it's fairer that heavy users pay more than those who rarely or never use them," she says.
Australian Associated Press