Population growth means people living in urban areas are more seriously concerned about congestion.

Cost of living is still forefront of mind right now, but a new study has found Melbourne and Sydney residents are more concerned about congestion than ever before.

A study of almost 1000 inner-city residents found traffic was fourth on the current list of concerns, but it was the biggest forward-looking concern among respondents.

Speaking with Ross Greenwood on 3AW radio this morning, Charlie Nelson, director of the body behind the study, described congestion as the "biggest future concern" for Sydney and Melbourne.

"There's elections in both Victoria and New South Wales in the next 12 months, and this is going to be huge as an issue for the candidates," Nelson said.

"The governments of all colours have failed to keep up with population growth, they're a long way behind and they're playing catch up. I know in Melbourne, public transport has seen the demise of several state governments recently."

Last year, a report from the Grattan Institute found people who commute along Hoddle Street in Melbourne often deal with more than 20 minutes of congestion, while people commuting from Balgowlah or Hurstville in Sydney frequently spend 15 extra minutes sitting in their cars.

The research body argued state governments aren't able to build their way of congestion, instead calling for a congestion charge. Those calls were renewed by Infrastructure Australia recently, which called for a "reformed charging framework for our roads".

Reporting from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics shows congestion costs Australia upwards of $16 billion every year, and the figure could tip $30 billion by 2030.

This user-pays approach is being pitched as a solution, which could leave road infrastructure chronically underfunded over the next decade.

"Road market reform has the potential to deliver significant improvements in network performance and address fairness issues, while also establishing a secure and sustainable source of funding for our roads," said Infrastructure Australia chief executive, Philip Davies.

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