Congestion is up but new technology signals way forward

25th July 2019
Alex Lynn

TomTom (TOM2) today released the results of the TomTom Traffic Index, a report detailing the traffic situation in 403 cities in 56 countries around the world. Edinburgh takes the top spot in the United Kingdom this year with drivers expecting to spend an average of 40% extra travel time stuck in traffic.

Next in the UK rankings are London (37%), Bournemouth (34%), Hull (34%) and Belfast (34%), making up the top five most congested cities in the country.

Key congestion findings: 

  • Edinburgh is the most congested city in the UK (ranked 27th in the world) followed by London and Bournemouth.
  • On average, Brits driving in the peak hours will spend an extra 5.5 days in traffic each year, but this increases to 7.1 days for Edinburgh residents.
  • The day with the slowest driving speeds on the roads in London last year was 7 November, likely caused by heavy rainfall. The day with the least traffic congestion in London was on Christmas Day.
  • The biggest increase in congestion came in Coventry which was up 9% on last year. The construction work involved in the upgrade of the city’s ring road is likely to have contributed to the rise in congestion through Coventry.
  • Manchester was one of the few UK cities to experience a decline in congestion, which fell by 1% year-on-year. The city was recently awarded the 7th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP Award).
  • In this year’s TomTom Traffic Index, Middlesbrough ranks as the least congested city in the UK. Late last year Middlesbrough announced a major ten-year plan for easing congestion further, including a new park and ride railway station.
  • Mumbai was named the most congested city in the world, with drivers facing an average of 65% extra travel time.

Heiko Schilling, Head of Navigation at TomTom, said: “The UK was home to nine cities in the top 100 most congested cities globally including; Edinburgh, London, Bournemouth, Hull, Belfast, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Manchester, and Leicester. Overall congestion is up by an average of 1% in the UK – a mild increase but an increase, nonetheless. Only Manchester, Glasgow and Portsmouth have seen congestion levels improve.

“These results show that there’s still a lot of work to be done, and that’s why we release the TomTom Traffic Index every year. It’s designed to help drivers, cities and transport planners to understand traffic congestion, and, most importantly, how to reduce it. Advances in journey planning, autonomous vehicles and car sharing schemes all promise to alleviate congestion in Edinburgh and other cities in the UK and around the world.”

The world in motion

Mumbai takes the top spot this year with drivers in the Indian city expecting to spend an average of 65% extra travel time stuck in traffic. Next in the global rankings are Colombian capital, Bogota (63%), Lima in Peru (58%), New Delhi in India (58%) and Russian Capital, Moscow (56%), topping out the list of the five most congested cities in the world.

With Moscow taking the lead in Europe, Istanbul (53%) came a close second with Bucharest (48%) Saint Petersburg (47%) and Kiev (46%) making up the top five. Brussels (37%), London (37%) and Paris (36%) ranked in at 11th, 12th and 13th respectively.

North America’s top five most congested cities are Mexico City (52%), Los Angeles (41%), Vancouver (38%), New York (36%) and San Francisco (34%).

The global picture: congestion up

Traffic congestion has increased globally during the last decade, and nearly 75% of the cities TomTom includes in the new Traffic Index report had increased or stable congestion levels between 2017 and 2018, with only 90 cities showing measurable decreases.

There are significant differences between continents: for example, decreases were measured in Asia, with a large decrease in congestion (-8%) in Jakarta, while nearly every city in South America posted increases, the largest (8%) taking place in Lima, Peru.

Hope on the horizon

Ralf-Peter Schaefer, TomTom’s VP of Traffic information, said: “Globally, traffic congestion is rising. That’s both good, and bad, news. It’s good because it indicates a strong global economy, but the flip side is drivers wasting time sitting in traffic, not to mention the huge environmental impact.”

TomTom has been collecting traffic information and providing traffic services for nearly a decade, allowing drivers to make smarter choices in route planning and avoiding congestion. The location technology specialist’s work on the future of driving – from high definition maps for autonomous vehicles, to efficient electric vehicle routing and charging – means that car makers, technology companies, road authorities and governments already have the tools to make the roads less congested.

Schaefer added: “We’re working towards a future where vehicles are electric, shared and autonomous so that our future really is free of congestion and emissions. We have the technology to make this future happen – but it takes a collaborative effort. From road authorities, to governments; car makers to car drivers, we all have a part to play.”

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