Coronavirus has piled pressure on roads, rubbish and internet while people increasingly moved to the country as the pandemic shifted the dial on infrastructure needs.
Infrastructure Australia on Wednesday released a national study into the impacts of the pandemic on essential services.
The report notes traffic levels rebounded quickly after lockdowns and second-hand car sales rose as more people opted to drive rather than take public transport.
While lockdown sent public transport use in most cities to between 10 and 30 per cent of usual levels, the figure rebounded to a “new norm” of 60 to 70 per cent.
Infrastructure Australia estimates about four million employees have been working from home since March with about one-third keen to remain remote.
This is placing greater strain on the broadband network and driving up energy, water and waste consumption in homes.
Online shopping and demand for streaming and other digital services also increased the demand for internet.
The pandemic drove 100 per cent growth in monthly online retail trade, five times the annual growth recorded in 2019, sending parcel deliveries up at a similar rate.
Coronavirus also reversed a long-term downward trend of household waste, which is up 20 per cent as more people work from home.
Paper, plastic and single-use waste has risen amid high levels of food delivery and online shopping, putting more pressure on the system.
The report labels six key areas as priorities to be addressed in the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan.
It calls for a mitigation of growing car dependency, improved waste management and examination of repurposing real estate in CBDs.
Investment uncertainty, real-time data and ensuring critical infrastructure is supported financially are also recommended areas.
The report found some regional communities saw a boom in tourism and population growth, with people moving away from metropolitan areas.
That has resulted in a 200 per cent increase in net migration from capital cities to regional areas.
Infrastructure Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said the findings show compared to other developed economies, the nation’s infrastructure networks were resilient.
“Across sectors, we found that Australia’s governments and infrastructure providers navigated dramatic changes to community behaviour and network requirements, and rapidly adjusted their service provision,” she said.
The study also found 4600 new intensive care beds were delivered, while public transport hygiene and broadband capacity were rapidly adjusted.