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IBM Global Commuter Pain Index measures world traffic congestion

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July 20, 2010

Traffic on the streets of Beijing, the worst offender on the index

Traffic on the streets of Beijing, the worst offender on the index

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If there are three claims that people in almost every part of the world make about where they live, those claims are: our weather is notoriously unpredictable, we are being taxed into the Stone Age, and... the traffic here is worse than almost anywhere else. Well, as part of its research and development of traffic management systems, IBM decided to find out just which places do have the worst traffic - or at least, which places have the residents who are most negatively affected by it. The results: if you don’t like traffic, don’t live in a fast-growing metropolis.

For its first-ever Global Commuter Pain Index, the company surveyed 8,192 drivers in 20 cities on six continents, getting feedback on issues such as commuting time, anger caused by driving in traffic, and the amount of time stuck in traffic.

Cities such as Los Angeles, New York and London, long thought of as traffic hellholes, actually scored relatively low on the index. This, say the researchers, is because those cities have been experiencing slow, steady growth over the past several years, so the traffic infrastructure has been able to keep up with the increased amount of vehicles on the road.

IBM's commuter pain index

Places like Moscow, New Delhi, and the top spot holder Beijing, however, have been growing too fast. According to the Beijing municipal taxation office, the number of new cars in that city rose by 23.8 percent in the first four months of 2010. It’s no surprise that 95 percent of Beijing motorists surveyed felt that roadway traffic had negatively affected their health - the global average was 57 percent. Beijing does plan on investing over 331.2 billion yuan (US$48.8 billion) by 2015 to improve its traffic infrastructure, but that doesn’t free the roads up right now.

"Traditional solutions - building more roads - will not be enough to overcome the growth of traffic in these rapidly developing cities, so multiple solutions need to be deployed simultaneously to avoid a failure of the transportation networks," said Naveen Lamba, IBM's global industry lead for intelligent transportation. "New techniques are required that empower transportation officials to better understand and proactively manage the flow of traffic."

Other findings of the survey included the facts that 49 percent of global drivers thought traffic has gotten worse in the past three years, 87 percent have been stuck in traffic causing an average one-hour delay, and 31 percent have encountered traffic so heavy that they turned around and went home.

The city with the least painful commute, should you be curious, was Stockholm. Melbourne and Houston closely followed, in a tie for second-least.

IBM has previously conducted Commuter Pain surveys in 2008 and 2009, but only within the US.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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7 Comments

They aparently did not check with drivers trying to get from Maryland or Virginia into

Washington, D.C.. Area newspapers show an adverage of 90 min. to get to work with

only a 35 mile trip...

BOB.BARNETT1
21st July, 2010 @ 12:22 pm PDT

I find it interesting that Washington DC is not on that list...you want to talk about homicidal rage when it comes to traffic! Heck, the city street layout was designed by a frenchman for cripes sake! *AND* it was designed for the express purpose to thwart a marching army from making it through the city to get to the capital! So it was actually designed to frustrate travelers! And that stupid spoke-hub design is replicated to all outlying areas that supply DC with workers from over 200 miles away who commute by train, bus and car every day from 4 different states!

Also, you cannot make a blanket determination about traffic in one city being the same throughout the city! I'm sure that there are some areas in Bejing that are just fine traffic wise...and that after 10pm, traffic is probably non-existant! In the DC area, traffic is continuous whether you're driving at 8am, 3pm or 3 AM, you will ALWAYS hit traffic!

Ed
21st July, 2010 @ 02:45 pm PDT

surveys are sentiments and maybe people in LA, NY or Uk just got used to it and considered it an acceptable normal daily experience. try complaining to the people of Saudis of your 100 degree "heatwave" and you will know that a lot of people do live in 120-140 summers

welliesebastian
21st July, 2010 @ 07:45 pm PDT

Should check Jakarta, Indonesia as well. At one case 35km can be reached in 3 hours. It is a fast growing metropolis city. Cars and motorbikes are cm's away from each other in a jam. In case of rain or accident or any other obstacle, traffic can stuck completely (0-5 km/h) for up to 1 hour of standing still. Almost the same when holidays are coming, because big portion of Jakarta occupants are originated from outside the city.

In 2001, 3.5 mil vehicles registered. In 2008, 9.6 mil vehicles. In 2009, 10 mil. 70% of them are motorbikes, because people (including me) thought it is faster and cheaper on fuel = less pain. Imagine: 7 million of motorbikes, heaven for Honda and Yamaha.

Public trans: No subway. Bus lane is new but ineffective. Monorail is aborted project. Taxi has the most share in public trans. Buses are old, dirty, not worthed even if it's the cheapest.

Henry Djunaedi
22nd July, 2010 @ 02:09 am PDT

There seems to be a big hole in this IBM Global Commuter Pain Index when Bagnkok, Thailand, is left out.

Bangkok should be in the top five list. On an average workday commuting from areas north of Bangkok to downtown Bangkok, it takes 2 hours to travel the distance of 20 kilometer, or about 6.25 miles per hour and this includes partial travel on "express" toll-way too along with large force of traffic police on duty. On the month-end payday that falls on Friday, you can double the time easily especially when the traffice policemen get physically and mentally tired and just take a break and do nothing ! The only thing that makes traffic jam in Bangkok bearable is that most Thais do not honks needlessly like drivers in cities like Beijing, or Manila.

A. Ted Vorachard
25th July, 2010 @ 07:08 pm PDT

Clearly they forgot to consider IC19. The road connecting Sintra to Lisbon in Portugal e known as the most congested in Europe.

During the MK5 Golf Test-Drive, a TopGear team drove thought Europe, defining IC19 as "Lisbon's wrist-slashing traffic".

IC22 and Calçada de Carriche, as long as IC17 are also pure chaos and tend to get worse on rainy days because of accidents.

Just as a small benchmark, I used to live inside Lisbon and leave home at 8:45 to enter my job at 9:00. Now, living outside Lisbon, I wake-up at 6:30 to leave home at 6:45 and be in Lisbon at 7:00... then I fully use my 2h laptop battery working on a coffee table and entering my job around 9:00.

Why is this madness? Public transportation in Portugal is both expensive and inefficient.

Cost of ownership of a house inside Lisbon is 4 to 10 times more expensive then in the suburbs of Lisbon.... and renting a house in Lisbon will cost as much as a bank bill for owning a house in the suburbs.

This, although BAD, wouldn't be a problem if the suburbs HAD not converted into dormitory areas... but there aren't many company outside Lisbon... to it's the same every day.

During summer, Lisbon get's so desert that almost seems like a ghost town.

The Deal to end traffic is improve the use of communications to make people work from home, and create jobs OUTSIDE the big metropolis, evening things out ... as a result demand to buy property inside metropolis will decline and the price-drop will allow more people to live inside the metropolis instead of just working there. This would spread the usable area and fuse working places with living places in a uniform mass. Less people would need their cars and traffic should decline.

Facebook User
26th July, 2010 @ 09:15 am PDT

What, no mention of Tokyo? How could they not be in the top 5?

Gubbins
16th August, 2010 @ 03:09 pm PDT
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