Transport Theory

10 worst cities for commuting (2011 edition)

Posting in Cities

This IBM study surveyed commuters in 20 cities around the world and ranked the worst -- and best -- cities for commuting.

You think your city's traffic is so bad? Try living in Mexico City.

The city scored the highest in IBM's Global Commuter Pain Survey, released today. The study surveyed a cross-section of economically important cities around the world regarding commuting habits, ranking the emotional and economic toll of commuting in each of the cities. It found that drivers throughout the world reported more stress and frustration with their commute compared to last year.

The study surveyed 8,042 commuters in 20 cities on six continents, and found that in many places, commuters are opting for public transportation instead of driving. Forty-one percent of those surveyed said that as public transportation options improved, stress levels would decrease.

Indeed, many emerging economies, such as india and China, are making significant investments in public transportation. Commuters in Bangalore, New Delhi, Beijing, Shenzen, and Mexico City reported more improvement in traffic conditions than did commuters in other cities surveyed.

Having said that, the survey also found more respondents, compared to last year, who said that traffic congestion has "increased their levels of personal stress and anger and negatively affected their performance at work or school," according to a statement from IBM. Respondents in Beijing (86%), Shenzen (87%), New Delhi (70%) and Nairobi (61%) said that traffic is a major inhibitor to their performance at work or school.

Forty-two percent of respondents of the survey's respondents said their stress levels had increased, and 35% reported increased anger. Respondents in China and India also reported congestion-related respiratory problems.

“Commuting doesn’t occur in a vacuum,” said Naveen Lamba, IBM’s global intelligent transportation expert. “A person’s emotional response to the daily commute is colored by many factors – pertaining both to traffic congestion as well as to other, unrelated, issues. This year’s Global Commuter Pain survey indicates that drivers in cities around the world are much more unsettled and anxious compared with 2010.”

The index measures ten issues: 1) commuting time, 2) time stuck in traffic, agreement that: 3) price of gas is already too high, 4) traffic has gotten worse, 5) start-stop traffic is a problem, 6) driving causes stress, 7) driving causes anger, 8 ) traffic affects work, 9) traffic so bad driving stopped, and 10) decided not to make trip due to traffic.

Here's how the cities in this year's Commuter Pain Survey stacked up (higher scores indicate worse conditions):

  • Mexico City: 108
  • Shenzhen 95
  • Beijing 95
  • Nairobi 88
  • Johannesburg 83
  • Bangalore 75
  • New Delhi 72
  • Moscow 65
  • Milan 53
  • Singapore 44
  • Buenos Aires 42
  • Los Angeles 34
  • Paris 31
  • Madrid 28
  • New York City 28
  • Toronto 27
  • Stockholm 26
  • Chicago 25
  • London 23
  • Montreal 21

Photos: IBM, Flickr/itdp

via [The Wall Street Journal]

Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure