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Traffic Delays Up in Almost Two Thirds of UK Cities, London Tops Global Congestion Ranking

  • INRIX Traffic Scorecard reveals strong economic growth and record population levels result in London becoming the first city to surpass 100 hours wasted per driver in gridlock
  • UK drivers spent 30 hours on average in congestion in 2015; UK moves down to sixth in the list of Europe’s most congested countries, despite traffic being up in 61% of cities
  • Outside of the capital, Belfast saw the UK’s biggest increase in congestion, with drivers spending almost an hour extra on the road in 2015
  • A 10-mile stretch of the A217 in London was the UK’s most congested road for the second year running, costing drivers 110 hours, or 4.5 days, of wasted time in 2015

LONDON, UK – 15 March 2016: INRIX, a global leader for connected car technology and transportation analytics, has published its 2015 Traffic Scorecard, a benchmark for governments and cities in Europe and the U.S. to measure progress in improving urban mobility.

The report analysed traffic congestion in more than 100 cities worldwide. London topped the list, with drivers wasting an average of 101 hours, or more than four days, in gridlock in 2015. Across the UK, drivers spent 30 hours on average in delays last year, consistent with 2014, but the UK dropped to sixth in the European ranking as a result of Switzerland seeing a rise in traffic levels. Belgium remains Europe’s most gridlocked country, with drivers stuck in traffic for 44 hours on average.

Congestion was up slightly in 11 of the 18 UK metropolitan areas in 2015, compared to 14 in 2014. The biggest increase outside of London was in Belfast, where drivers sat idle for 38 hours, impacted by roadworks on the M2 as a result of a road improvement scheme[i]. Birmingham experienced the biggest decline in traffic delays, with a decrease of 2.5 hours annually, which could be attributed to the completion of roadworks on the M6 and redevelopment projects in the city centre.

The UK economy continues to grow, increasing by 2.2% in 2015[ii]. Unemployment fell to 5.1%[iii], its lowest level in nearly ten years. The UK population is expected to have hit 65 million in 2015[iv], an annual increase of up to 500,000[v]. These factors continue to have an adverse impact on traffic levels, with an increasing number of roadwork, building and construction projects nationwide, more commercial and private vehicles on the road and more people commuting to work by car.

Urbanisation is a key driver of congestion, and London’s population topped 8.6 million[vi] last year, the highest since its 1939 peak, increasing by more than 100,000[vii]. This contributed to drivers in the capital spending a record 101 hours on average stuck in traffic, the first time a city has surpassed 100 hours wasted in gridlock in a year. As a result, London tops INRIX’s congestion ranking of major cities worldwide and remains Europe’s gridlock capital for the second year running.

“London is the victim of its own success, with a robust jobs market and a growing economy attracting more people, more construction and consequently more traffic,” said Bryan Mistele, President & CEO, INRIX. “Transport for London is tackling this problem with its £4 billion Road Modernisation Plan. Whilst in the short term the roadworks from this initiative are frustrating for drivers, they are a step towards creating a more sustainable and modernised transport network.”

UK’s ten most congested metropolitan areas in 2015 (ranked by annual hours wasted):

Rank UK Metropolitan Area Hours Wasted in 2015 Change from 2014 (in Hours)
1 London Commute Zone 101 +5.2
2 Gr. Manchester 51 -0.4
3 Gr. Belfast 38 +0.9
4 Merseyside 37 +0.3
5 S. Nottinghamshire 35 +0.6
6 Birmingham / Black Country 34 -2.5
7 Avon & N. Somerset 30 -0.4
8 Leeds-Bradford 29 +0.3
9 Coventry & Warwick 28 +0.3
10 S. Yorkshire 27 -0.3

 

Britain’s Most Congested Roads
INRIX also identified the worst congested roads in the UK, as well as the worst times to travel. London roads were the busiest during the mid-week rush-hour with the A217 experiencing the most congestion in the country, delaying motorists by 110 hours – 26 hours more than the next worst road, the A215 from Camberwell to Croydon. Outside of the capital, a five-mile stretch of the A8 in Edinburgh was the most congested road with drivers spending an average of 43 hours in gridlock.

The UK’s most congested roads in 2015 (ranked by annual hours wasted):

Rank Area Road From To Distance (Miles) Worst Peak Period Worst Day/Hour Total Delay Per Year (Hours)
1 London A217 Rosehill Roundabout New Kings Road 10.37 AM Weds 08:00 110.32
2 London A215 Albany Road: Camberwell Shirley Road: Croydon 9.54 PM Fri

18:00

84.04
3 London A4 Henlys Roundabout: Hounslow Holborn Circus 14.64 AM Weds 09:00 80.96
4 London A4 Aldwych Henlys Roundabout: Hounslow 14.09 PM Weds 18:00 77.96
5 London A23 Thornton Heath Westminster Bridge 8.6 PM Tues 08:00 76.12

 

The UK’s most congested roads outside London in 2015 (ranked by annual hours wasted):

Rank Area Road From To Distance (Miles) Worst Peak Period Worst Day/Hour Total Delay Per Year (Hours)
1 Edinburgh A8 Princes Street Maybury Road 5.3 PM Tues 17:00 42.96
2 Manchester A580 Boothstown: Worsley Swinton Park Manchester 7.18 AM Tues

08:00

33.48
3 Manchester M60 J9 Trafford Park J13 Worsley 4.86 PM Tues 17:00 23.2
4 Newcastle A1/A1M Washington-Birtley Services Lobley Hill: Gateshead 5.68 PM Fri 17:00 22.92
5 Manchester A5103 M60 J5: Northenden Mancunian Way 4.55 AM Mon 08:00 21.16

 

UK vs. Europe: How do we Measure Up?
Of the 13 European countries analysed, 70% experienced a decrease in congestion in 2015. This can be attributed to a sluggish Europe-wide economy, with an average quarterly GDP growth rate of 0.3% in the second half of last year[viii], which remains below the pre-crisis peak of 2008. Belgium topped the list with drivers spending 44 hours in traffic congestion, followed by the Netherlands (39 hours) and Germany (38). Despite traffic being up in 61% of cities, the UK moved down to sixth.

Countries in Europe with the highest levels of congestion (ranked by annual hours wasted):

European Country 2015 Rank European Country 2014 Rank Country 2014 Avg. Hours Wasted 2015 Avg. Hours Wasted Change from 2014 in Hours
1 1 Belgium 51 44 -6.3
2 2 Netherlands 41 39 -1.5
3 3 Germany 39 38 -0.7
4 4 Luxemburg 34 33 -0.9
5 6 Switzerland 29 30 1.2
6 5 UK 30 30 -0.1
7 7 France 29 28 -0.3
8 8 Austria 25 25 0.4
9 9 Ireland 24 25 0.5
10 10 Italy 20 19 -0.6
11 11 Spain 17 18 0.2
12 12 Portugal 6 6 -0.2
13 13 Hungary 5 5 -1.0

 

The Traffic Situation in Europe’s Cities
Although London topped the list of Europe’s most gridlocked cities, Stuttgart experienced the highest increase, reaching 73 average hours wasted in 2015, an increase of 14% from 2014. This propelled Stuttgart from fifth to second in the ranking, which can be attributed to low fuel prices[ix], a record number of new registered vehicles[x] and more people commuting to work by car. Cologne, which took the title of Germany’s most congested city last year, slips to fourth, and Antwerp moves up to third. Both Cologne (5.2 hours) and Antwerp (6.6) experienced significant increases in delays.

Brussels – Europe’s most congested city in 2012 and 2013 and second to London in 2014 – experienced a significant drop in delays in 2015, achieving 70 hours wasted in traffic, a decline of more than four hours from 2014 and moving the city to fifth in the ranking. Brussels recently made investments to strengthen key suburban rail services in and around the city to help ease gridlock[xi].

Europe’s most congested metropolitan areas in 2015 (ranked by annual hours wasted):

Rank 2015 Rank 2014 Metro 2015 Total Hours Wasted Change from 2014 in Hours
1 1 London Commute Zone 101 +5.2
2 5 Stuttgart 73 +8.5
3 4 Antwerp 71 +6.6
4 3 Cologne 71 +5.2
5 2 Brussels 70 -4.2
6 N/a Moscow 57 N/a
7 6 Karlsruhe 54 -8.9
8 14 Munich 53 +4.5
9 9 Utrecht 53 +0.1
10 7 Milan 52 -5.0
11 11 Gr. Manchester 51 -0.4
12 8 Düsseldorf 50 -3.2
13 12 s-Gravenhage (The Hague) 48 -2.6
14 15 Rotterdam 46 -2.1
15 16 Paris 45 +0.1

 

How Europe Compares to Cities Worldwide
At the global city level, London tops the list of gridlock-plagued cities, with 101 hours of delay, followed by Los Angeles (81 hours), Washington D.C. (75), San Francisco (75), Houston (74), New York (73), Stuttgart (73), Antwerp (71), Cologne (71) and Brussels (70). Drivers using the top 10 worst roads globally waste on average 110 hours a year, or more than 4.5 days, in gridlock. Of these, four are in Los Angeles, three in Moscow, followed by roads in London, Brussels and Munich.

Of the countries measured by the INRIX Traffic Scorecard, the U.S. leads with the highest annual hours wasted in traffic – an average of nearly 50 hours in 2015 – outranking Belgium (44 hours), Netherlands (39), Germany (38), Luxembourg (33), Switzerland (30), UK (30) and France (28).

– ENDS –

Methodology

Findings in the INRIX Traffic Scorecard for Europe are drawn from traffic speed data collected from more than a million miles of urban streets and highways in 13 European countries and 96 cities, between January and December 2015. To view the global report, please visit inrix.com/scorecard.

 

[i]http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/m2-drivers-face-delays-in-400000-roadworks-31408138.html

[ii]http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/gdp-growth

[iii]http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/unemployment-rate

[iv]http://www.cityam.com/221125/population-growth-uk-become-biggest-country-european-union-2050

[v]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33266792

[vi]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-31082941

[vii]http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/pop-estimate/population-estimates-for-uk–england-and-wales–scotland-and-northern-ireland/mid-2014/sty—overview-of-the-uk-population.html

[viii]http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/02/taking-europe-s-pulse

[ix]http://www.bild.de/geld/wirtschaft/oelpreis/halb-europa-tankt-teurer-als-wir-44217182.bild.html

[x]http://www.kfz-innung-stuttgart.de/presse/pkw-zulassungen-region-stuttgart/

[xi]Suburban train service strengthened in and around Brussels

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