Traffic jams in 11 out of 17 of Britain’s biggest cities have got worse in the past year. Cities where congestion levels have gone up since this time last year include Belfast, Brighton, London, Manchester, Leicester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle.
Only Edinburgh, Leeds-Bradford and Nottingham have seen congestion levels improve. In others such as Bristol, Birmingham and Glasgow congestion levels have remained just as bad in the past 12 months.
The TomTom Traffic Index shows that Belfast remains the most congested city in the UK, with journey times up to 88 per cent longer in morning peak times and 32 per cent throughout the day.
Second is Bristol with journey times up to 66 per cent longer in evening peak times, followed by Brighton where travelling during rush hour takes 45 per cent longer than usual.
Despite the congestion charge, driving in London now takes more time than last year with drivers enduring rush-hour journey times of up to 60 per cent longer than non-peak times. Over the course of a day, driving in London takes 29 per cent longer than it would if traffic were free-flowing, making the capital the fifth most congested city in the UK – just behind Edinburgh.
TomTom analysed more than nine trillion pieces of data worldwide to compile its traffic index, which showed that Moscow remains the most congested city globally, followed by Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro.
“We are seeing a clear pattern which shows that congestion levels increase as economies emerge from recession. The traditional responses to tackling congestion, like building new roads or widening existing ones are no longer proving effective. The way traffic is managed needs significant change,” says TomTom’s Chief Executive Officer, Harold Goddijn.
The TomTom Traffic Index is the world’s most accurate barometer of traffic congestion in 169 cities across six continents. It compares travel times during non-congested hours (free flow) with travel times in peak hours. The Index takes into account local roads and highways.
“The findings indicate that real-time traffic information has the potential to ease congestion in urban areas by routing drivers away from gridlock, and help commuters to make smarter decisions,” commented Goddijn.
The TomTom Traffic Index shows that across the UK, typical journey times take 23 per cent longer in morning and evening rush hours. Cardiff has seen the biggest increase in congestion in the past year, followed by Portsmouth and Brighton.
Contrary to popular belief, the average driver in London does not experience the most extra travel time due to congestion – those in Belfast, Bristol, Brighton and Edinburgh are in worse shape. While those cities are smaller, congestion adds relatively more travel time to driving trips than it does in London.
Belfast, Bristol and Edinburgh all top London when it comes to evening rush hour commuting. In Belfast an average morning commute travel time can be almost doubled by congestion. With new bus lanes, commuters may have better options during peak periods.
Bristol has the highest proportion of people cycling to work in Britain and that may be the best option, especially in the centre.