Out of Control Policy Blog

Congestion Spurs Anger and Frustration Worldwide Despite Recession

Sixty five percent of commuters surveyed by IBM say their daily drive is a grind, depriving them of sleep and creating anger issues. It's also gotten worse over the last three years despite the Global Recession.

The just released survey (June 30, 2010) provides the basis for IBM's 2010 Global Commuter Pain Index and includes data from more than 8,000 motorists in 20 cities. According to IBM:

IBM surveyed 8,192 motorists in 20 cities on six continents, the majority of whom say that traffic has gotten worse in the past three years. The congestion in many of today's developing cities is a relatively recent phenomenon, having paralleled the rapid economic growth of those cities during the past decade or two. By contrast, the traffic in places like New York, Los Angeles or London developed gradually over many decades, giving officials more time and resources to address the problem.  

The good news for US cities? They don't have it as bad as Beijing, New Delhi, and Mexico cities.

The bad news? Traffic congestion is still a big problem and is improving in our some of our competitor cities (including Beijing).

The coverage has been interesting. At AOL News, the reporter observed that despite congestion frustration, we are still not giving up the car and getting onto buses and trains:

But in the United States, that stress hasn't done much to change our behavior: While 85 percent of Americans said traffic has gotten worse or stayed the same in the past three years, the vast majority of us -- 84 percent -- continue to drive to work alone anyway, compared with 56 percent, on average, worldwide.

Comments like these make me wonder if the writer uses public transit. I use it frequently when I'm traveling. I don't find that commuting by public transit is less frustrating. Indeed, often I am standing (which eats into any productivity benefits), looking for my next stop, or wondering if the train is going to get me where I need to be on time. Moreover, the data consistently shows that public transit commuters spend lots more time traveling to work than automobile drivers.

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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