If you live in a congested U.S. metropolitan area such as New York or Los Angeles, you’re no stranger to gridlocked traffic. As bad as things are in these cities, there are still places that have it a lot worse. A new study put together by navigation provider TomTom ranks cities across the globe based on traffic congestion.
- In its ninth year, the TomTom Traffic Index ranks urban congestion worldwide for 2019.
- TomTom covers 416 cities across 57 countries on six continents.
- The index provides calculations for all times of the day, allowing you to see the variance in congestion during peak hours.
India is the land of rickshaws and really bad traffic. Four of that nation’s metropolitan areas made TomTom’s list this year. (Photo: Andrew Thomas/Wikimedia Commons)
The world’s worst traffic congestion
The 10 cities listed below hold the dubious honor of having had the world’s worst traffic congestion during that year:
- Bengaluru, India; congestion level: 71 percent
- Manila, Phillipines; congestion level: 71 percent
- Bogata, Colombia; congestion level: 68 percent
- Mumbai, India; congestion level: 65 percent
- Pune, India; congestion level: 59 percent
- Greater Moscow, Russia; congestion level: 59 percent
- Lima, Peru; congestion level: 57 percent
- New Delhi, India; congestion level: 56 percent
- Istanbul, Turkey; congestion level: 55 percent
- Jakarta, Indonesia; congestion level: 53 percent
Understanding the numbers
You might be wondering what those congestion percentages mean. These figures are meant to represent the average time that traffic adds to a trip. A 57 percent congestion level in Lima, for example, means that a trip will take 57 percent more time that it would during Lima’s baseline un-congested conditions. Each city’s baseline is calculated by looking at free-flow traffic times for all vehicles across the entire road network, and these figures are recorded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The data comes from TomTom’s community of more than 600 million drivers. TomTom makes navigation devices, in-dash systems and smartphones, and the data is mined from these products. TomTom notes that all of its data is anonymized; this means that the link between the user’s identity and the data received is always broken.
Paris is know as the City of Lights. But also traffic congestion. (Photo: Getty Images)
The view from Europe
These five cities had the worst traffic on the European continent. The number in parenthesis shows its ranking on the overall chart:
- (6) Greater Moscow, Russia; congestion level: 59 percent
- (9) Istanbul, Turkey; congestion level: 55 percent
- (12) Kyiv, Ukraine; congestion level: 53 percent
- (14) Bucharest, Romania; congestion level: 52 percent
- (16) Saint Petersburg, Russia; congestion level: 49 percent
When it comes to popular European travel destinations, Paris ranked 42nd overall with a 39 percent congestion level. Then came Rome, ranking 43rd with a 38 percent congestion level. Landing in the 45th spot, London had a congestion level of just 38 percent.
New York is notorious for its traffic congestion. Still, that city ranked just 52nd on the global list. (Photo: Free-Photos/Pixabay)
A North American perspective
The following five cities had the worst traffic across Canada, the United States and Mexico. Again, the number in parenthesis for each city reflects its ranking on the overall chart:
- (13) Mexico City, Mexico; congestion level: 52 percent
- (31) Los Angeles, U.S.; congestion level: 42 percent
- (40) Vancouver, Canada; congestion level: 39 percent
- (52) New York City, U.S.; congestion level: 37 percent
- (59) San Francisco, U.S.; congestion level: 36 percent
WHY THIS MATTERS
Frustrating traffic seems to be the one thing cities across the globe have in common. And the numbers indicate that congestion is worsening: According to TomTom, 57 percent of the cities surveyed experienced increased congestion levels between 2018 and 2019.
“Globally, there’s a long road to travel until congestion levels are brought under control,” says Ralf-Peter Schäfer, TomTom’s VP of Traffic Information. “In time, the rise of autonomous vehicles and car-sharing services will help alleviate congestion, but planners and policymakers can’t afford to sit and wait. They need to use all the tools available to them to analyze traffic levels and impacts, so they can make critical infrastructure decisions.”