IBM 'Commuter Pain' Survey Reveals Worst Cities for Driving

Commuting pain is reflected globally as 69 percent of those surveyed indicated that traffic has negatively affected their health in some way. Some 42 percent of respondents globally reported increased stress and 35 percent reported increased anger.

A new IBM survey of the daily commute in a cross-section of international cities reveals a surprising pattern. Even though commuting has become more bearable over the past year, drivers' complaints about stress are increasing.

The annual global Commuter Pain survey reveals that in a number of cities more people are taking public transportation rather than driving, when compared with last year's survey. In many cities, there were big jumps in the percentage of respondents who said that roadway traffic has improved either "somewhat" or "substantially" in the past three years.

In many cities, the survey recorded significant increases, when compared with last year, in the number of respondents who said that roadway traffic has increased their levels of personal stress and anger and negatively affected their performance at work or school.

"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 survey results suggest that aggressive infrastructure investment in some of the most rapidly growing economies seems to be paying off. Compared with other cities surveyed, more commuters in Bangalore, New Delhi, Beijing, and Shenzhen reported improvement in traffic conditions over the last three years.

Even though commuters in many emerging market cities report that traffic is down, there is much room for improvement. The respondents in many of these same cities also report, with a greater frequency than the global average, that traffic negatively impacts their stress levels, physical health, and productivity.

Commuting pain is also reflected globally as 69 percent of those surveyed indicated that traffic has negatively affected their health in some way. Some 42 percent of respondents globally reported increased stress and 35 percent reported increased anger. Respiratory problems due to traffic congestion were most prevalent in China and India.

The survey results reflect an increased willingness to use public transportation and technology to improve the commute. Overall, 41 percent believe improved public transit would help reduce traffic congestion. Consider that even though globally only 35 percent of people changed the way that they get to work or school in the last year, 45 percent of those who have are opting for public transit.

Seventy percent of Nairobi residents report taking public transit more often in the last year on their daily commute. The desire for more accurate and timely information about road conditions as a way to reduce stress was shared across a number of cities from Los Angeles and Chicago to Moscow and Bangalore.

IBM compiled the results of the survey into its Commuter Pain Index that ranks the emotional and economic toll of commuting in each city, with the highest number being the most onerous. The Index reveals a large disparity in the pain of the daily commute from city to city. Montreal had the least painful commute of the cities studied, followed by London and Chicago. Here's how the cities stack up:

The Commuter Pain Index includes 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: 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; and Montreal 21.

"We can't simply build our way out of congestion no matter which city," said Vinodh Swaminathan, director of intelligent transportation systems, IBM. "In order to improve traffic flow and congestion, cities need to move beyond knowing and reacting; they have to find ways to anticipate and avoid situations that cause congestion that could turn the world into one giant parking lot."

This is IBM's fourth annual Commuter Pain survey.

To read the entire survey, go to http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ibm-global-commuter-pain-survey-traffic-congestion-down-pain-way-up-129446188.html.

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