Traffic congestion is a result of infrastructure that is incapable of meeting transportation demands. When population exceeds planners projections, we get congestion. CNN did a report on traffic congestion in Africa here.
A regular commuter, Mxolishi Colossa, who works at a Johannesburg home furniture store, was interviewed. Every morning, Mxolishi leaves his home at 6 a.m. and heads to the minibus pickup point, the predominant transport service for the masses. There, he waits patiently for a minibus taxi to take him to the local train station. Commuters like Mxolishi make up the millions who commute to work every morning. . The waiting, the high cost of the ride, the amount of time to get to work and the dangerous driving are all necessary evils of daily commuters. Fourteen stops later, another taxi and he finally arrives at work – two and a half hours later. The ride home is the same.
Johannesburg was ranked fifth worst in the world in IBM’s 2011 Commuter Pain Survey.
Mxolishi’s situation is echo’ed in Nairobi, Kenya, which has the distinction of being the forth worst in the world, behind Bejing, Shenzen and the leader, Mexico City. Congestion is like a blocked artery and studies show that there is a high health cost. There is obviously the wasted petrol, needlessly burned as cars idle. Then there is the lost productivity of the workers. The IBM study revealed some further supporting statistics about the cost of congestion:
The respondents of the survey report, with a greater frequency than the global average, that traffic negatively impacts their stress levels, physical health and productivity.
- 86 percent of the respondents in Beijing, 87 percent in Shenzhen, 70 percent in New Delhi and 61 percent in Nairobi report traffic as a key inhibitor to work or school performance.
- 67 percent of drivers in Mexico City, 63 percent in Shenzhen and New Delhi and 61 percent in Beijing said they had decided not to make a driving trip in the last month due to anticipated traffic – the most of all cities surveyed.
- 69 percent of those surveyed indicated that traffic has negatively affected their health in some way.
- 42 percent of respondents globally reported increased stress and 35 percent reported increased anger. Respiratory problems due to traffic congestion were most prevalent in China and India.
Public transport is a high priority in many urban centres as planners recognize the savings in time, money and energy that can arise due to a reduction congestion. According to official figures, in Nairobi alone, $600,000 per day in lost productivity, fuel consumption and pollution:
- Overall, 41 percent believe improved public transit would help reduce traffic congestion.
- Even though globally only 35 percent of people changed the way that they get to work or school in the last year, 45 percent of those who have are opting for public transit.
- An astonishing 70 percent of Nairobi residents report taking public transit more often in the last year on their daily commute.
- The biggest movement to public transit is in emerging cities including Nairobi, Mexico City, Shenzhen, Buenos Aires and Beijing.
- Fourteen of the 15 cities surveyed in both 2010 and 2011 reported year-over-year increases in respondents who said that traffic had improved either “somewhat” or “substantially” over the past three years, with many of the cities posting substantial increases. For example, New York (24% in 2011 vs. 12% in 2010), Toronto (23% in 2011 vs. 8% in 2010), Milan (27% in 2011 vs. 7% in 2010), Stockholm (42% in 2011 vs. 18% in 2010), Moscow (31% in 2011 vs. 16%), and Johannesburg (29% in 2011 vs. 13% in 2010).
- Despite improving traffic conditions, 12 of the 15 cities surveyed in both 2010 and 2011 reported year-over-year increases in respondents who said that roadway traffic has increased their stress levels, with several cities posting substantial increases. For example, New York (45% in 2011 vs. 13% in 2010), Los Angeles (44% in 2011 vs. 21% in 2010), Toronto (40% in 2011 vs. 14% in 2010), London (33% in 2011 vs. 19% in 2010), Milan (61% in 2011 vs. 38% in 2010), and Johannesburg (52% in 2011 vs. 30% in 2010).
- Eleven of the 15 cities surveyed in both 2010 and 2011 reporter year-over-year increases in respondents who said that roadway traffic has made them angry, with several cities posting substantial increases. For example, New York (35% in 2011 vs. 14% in 2010), Los Angeles, (29% in 2011 vs. 14% in 2010), and Toronto (29% in 2011 vs. 14% in 2010).
- Eleven of the 15 cities surveyed in both 2010 and 2011 reported year-over-year increases in respondents who said that traffic has negatively affected their performance at work or school, with several cities posting substantial increases. For example, New York (28% in 2011 vs. 8% in 2010), Toronto (29% in 2011 vs. 17% in 2010), Madrid (30% in 2011 vs. 21% in 2010), Paris (35% in 2011 vs. 26% in 2010), Milan (40% in 2011 vs. 21% in 2010), Stockholm (25% in 2011 vs. 14% in 2010), and Moscow (34% in 2011 vs. 25% in 2010).
- When asked about the longest amount of time they have been stuck in traffic over the past three years, the mean time reported by drivers in Mexico City, Moscow, Beijing, Shenzhen and Nairobi were notable, with delays of about two hours. In Moscow, approximately three in ten drivers (29 percent) say they been stuck for over three hours. By comparison, about half of the drivers surveyed in Stockholm, Singapore, Madrid and Buenos Aires reported spending less than 30 minutes or literally no time stuck in traffic.
- The percentage of New York metro area drivers who are driving to work or school alone decreased to 59 percent in 2011 vs. 90 percent last year.
- If traffic didn’t take up so much time, commuters would rather devote it to personal relationships and improving their physical health. More than half of respondents (56 percent) would spend time won back with family/friends; while nearly half (48 percent) would exercise and 40 percent would spend more time on recreation. Nearly three in ten drivers (29 percent) would sleep more.