The rising number of students in Queensland’s private secondary school system is contributing greatly to traffic congestion particularly in school drop-off and pick-up times.

A first-of-its-kind study by academics at Griffith’s Cities Research Institute shows more students travel by car to private secondary schools with the car trips almost twice as long as those students who attend state schools.

The net effects says PhD candidate Yiping Yan is that private school travel trips are having a disproportionate impact on traffic congestion during peak hour times.

“We found at the primary school level, the differences aren’t great but when we saw the data for private secondary schools, there was a major difference in those whose students were driven to school.

The research, presented at the Australasian Transport Research Forum, also found these trips to private secondary schools were on average twice as long as the primary schools meaning cars were on the road longer.

Yiping Yan at Brisbane’s ABC studios

“We know trips more than five kilometres in length are mainly done on arterial and sub-arterial roads not the small roads and hence congestion is worse during the peak hour period,” Ms Yan said.

Associate Professor Matthew Burke, from Griffith University's Urban Research Program

Associate Professor Matthew Burke

Institute Associate Professor Matthew Burke said the increase in private secondary schools being built in non-transport friendly regions is contributing to the problem.

“More private schools are opening in the south-east corner as demand and enrolments skyrocket due to Commonwealth subsidies and tax exemption status.

“This is problematic at best but the concern is these schools are being built at the edge of existing communities and well beyond the suburban fringe and far from public transport.”

Dr Burke said parents are not to blame as they have little other choice.

“They have to chauffeur their children.”

Education figures show more than 40 per cent of secondary school children attend a private school.

Analysts predict traffic congestion will cost Australia more than $30 Billion in lost productivity by 2030.