Where’s the World’s Most Painful Commute?

Beijing commute traffic

I was just writing earlier on the power of cities and the progressive transportation choices cities can take to turn the world around (environmentally, economically, and otherwise). Looking at this from a different (and perhaps more negative) angle, IBM recently released a global “Commuter Pain Study.”

For the study, IBM surveyed 8,192 motorists in 20 cities on six continents. The majority of respondents said that traffic had gotten worse in the past 3 years.

Interestingly, no U.S. cities were in the top 10. Thought traffic was bad in the U.S.? Try booming megacities in Asia and Latin America. “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 has developed gradually over many decades, giving officials more time and resources to address the problem,” IBM reports.

And if you thought there wasn’t anything worse than being at work and are a fan of “Would rather be golfing” stickers, you might be surprised to see the number of people who said they’d work more if their commute time were significantly reduced (see the chart below).

Rather Be Working

And if you look at the number of people who feel that traffic negatively affects their health, the issue looks even more drastic, especially in those Asian and Latin American cities. “For example, 57% of all respondents say that roadway traffic has negatively affected their health, but that percentage is 96% in New Delhi and 95% in Beijing.”

IBM Commuter Pain Index

So, want to see the overall results? Here’s what IBM reports on both how they created the Commuter Pain Index and what they results were:

IBM compiled the results of the survey into an Index that ranks the emotional and economic toll of commuting in each city on a scale of one to 100, with 100 being the most onerous. The Index reveals a tremendous disparity in the pain of the daily commute from city to city. Stockholm had the least painful commute of the cities studied, followed by Melbourne and Houston (which tied) and New York City. Here’s how the cities stack up:

worlds most painful commutes

The index is comprised of 10 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. The cities scored as follows: Beijing: 99, Mexico City: 99, Johannesburg: 97, Moscow: 84, New Delhi: 81, Sao Paolo: 75, Milan: 52, Buenos Aires: 50, Madrid: 48, London: 36, Paris: 36, Toronto: 32, Amsterdam: 25, Los Angeles: 25, Berlin: 24, Montreal: 23, New York: 19, Houston: 17, Melbourne: 17, Stockholm: 15.

So, there you go, think twice before taking a job in Beijing, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Moscow, New Delhi, or Sao Paolo. Until they create a more balanced, sustainable transportation network, at least.

Photo Credit: Proggie via flickr

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