An analysis of traffic congestion in more than 400 cities across six continents has found that commuters in Mumbai spent the most time on the road last year.
Mumbai ranked first in the study, ‘Traffic Index-2018’, compiled by location technology specialist TomTom, with a congestion level of 65 per cent, while New Delhi ranked fourth with a congestion of 58 per cent. Mumbai, which has held on to the top rank for the second consecutive year, beat Bogota (63 per cent), Lima (58 per cent) and Moscow (56 per cent).
The study covered 403 cities in 56 countries and defined congestion as the extra time added to road travel when traffic doesn’t flow freely.
Barbara Belpaire, TomTom’s general manager for India, attributed this to the lack of road space, simultaneous infrastructure projects, low adherence to traffic rules and a high population and car density. “Mumbai has an average of 500 cars per kilometre, it’s car density is higher than Delhi,” she said.
The study found that in 2018, the best time to drive in Mumbai was between 2 am and 5 am, when traffic flowed freely. The peak hours between 8 am and 10 am, the study found, resulted in a congestion of 80 per cent, which shot up to 102 per cent between 5 pm and 8 pm, when offices shut for the day. This translated to an additional 24 minutes traffic congestion during the morning peak hours and 31 minutes in the evening.
Over the last two years, the study also found, August 21 was the worst day to be on the road, with heavy showers bringing traffic movement to a complete standstill for the better part of the day, leading to a congestion of 111 per cent. On that day, LBS Marg in the eastern suburbs was the worst stretch to drive on, it said.
Last year, Belpaire said, the travel time on the road took an extra 192 minutes, up from 156 minutes in 2017. Claiming that traffic congestion in the city doubles during the monsoon, she said: “There is often more than one cause for congestion. During the monsoon, rain and metro rail and infrastructure construction work combine to cause congestion,” she said.
The best day for a drive last year was March 2, the second day of Holi, when most residents celebrated the festival at home. The study showed that this resulted in traffic congestion of only 16 per cent on the road.
Among solutions that the firm has advocated are for the city authorities to analyse traffic data before beginning infrastructure works and to provide real-time updates to drivers on congestion and traffic incidents and provide alternate routes. “Governments also need to stimulate carpooling so that people can use their time to the commute more effectively,” Belpaire said.
The company also suggested expanding the scope of the city’s public transport network in order to provide end-to-end connectivity and businesses to provide flexible working hours to employees to ease traffic moving towards the suburbs.
Like the state government, TomTom also claimed that traffic congestion will gradually ease once more Metro rail lines become functional. “After a few years, things will become better. People need to be patient. They need to realise that this is the price to pay for better mobility in the future,” Belpaire said.
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