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Worst Cities for Commuting

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Where Commuters Feel the Pain Most

Recently International Business Machines asked more than 8,000 drivers, or about 40 from each of 20 global cities it surveyed, about their daily commutes. (The 20 cities were selected from the world’s top 65 for size and economic activity.) The picture painted by the results of this annual “Commuter Pain Survey” was not pretty: A little over 41 percent of respondents believe their commutes have worsened over the last three years. IBM hopes the results will provoke discussion and eventually inspi
Jonathan Smith | Lonely Planet | Getty Images

Recently, International Business Machines asked more than 8,000 drivers, or about 40 from each of 20 global cities it surveyed, about their daily commutes. (The 20 cities were selected from the world’s top 65 for size and economic activity.) The picture painted by the results of this annual “Commuter Pain Survey” was not pretty: A little over 41 percent of respondents believe their commutes have worsened over the last three years.

IBM hopes the results will provoke discussion and eventually inspire real solutions. For now, the practical answers will likely involve the wise use of technology to help commuters avoid the worst drive times and the most ensnaring traffic zones. Policy can also make a difference: Stockholm implemented a system for charging drivers as a way to eliminate congestion, which has effectively reduced morning commute times by an average of 50 percent. Another 41 percent of those IBM surveyed believe that improved public transpiration would help reduce commuting stress.

IBM compiled the index by asking respondents to consider 10 issues: commuting time, time spent stuck in traffic, the price of gas, whether traffic has gotten better or worse, the problem of start-and-stop traffic, commuting stress, commuting anger, a commute’s effect on work, traffic so bad that driving comes to a halt, and driving decision-making based on traffic.

On the more positive end of the rating scale, the top three of the 20 cities were Montreal, London, and Chicago, but “best” is relative, the survey said. Click ahead to see the 10 worst cities for commuting, accompanied by some of the commuting-related findings specific to each city.

By Colleen KanePosted 10/11/11  

10. Singapore, Singapore

Respondents in this city suffered health-affecting traffic accidents more than in other cities, according to the “Commuter Pain Survey.”Drivers in Singapore are especially averse to stop-and-start traffic, and trains are a popular mode of commuting in Singapore.
Simin Wang | AFP | Getty Images

Respondents in this city suffered health-affecting traffic accidents more than in other cities, according to the “Commuter Pain Survey.”

Drivers in Singapore are especially averse to stop-and-start traffic, and trains are a popular mode of commuting in Singapore.

9. Milan, Italy

Milan is one of the cities where drivers are most inclined to feeling stress from traffic, with more than half reporting routinely stressful commutes, the “Commuter Pain Survey” said. Up to half of respondents from this city said they failed to get to work because of traffic, and commuters in Milan are among the most prone to say they’d work more if they weren’t stuck in traffic so much. Respondents in Milan suffered health-affecting traffic accidents more than in other cities.
Angelo Cavalli | Getty Images

Milan is one of the cities where drivers are most inclined to feeling stress from traffic, with more than half reporting routinely stressful commutes, the “Commuter Pain Survey” said.

Up to half of respondents from this city said they failed to get to work because of traffic, and commuters in Milan are among the most prone to say they’d work more if they weren’t stuck in traffic so much.

Respondents in Milan suffered health-affecting traffic accidents more than in other cities.

8. Moscow, Russia

Moscow is a city where drivers routinely experience delays of more than an hour – and more than 45 percent of drivers have spent three hours or more in traffic, the “Commuter Pain Survey” revealed. A shocking 40 percent to 50 percent of Moscow drivers said they failed to get to work because of traffic. Surprisingly, drivers in this city were among the least likely to have changed the way they get to work during the past year, either because of habit or because there was no alternative route.Resi
EyesWideOpen | Getty Images

Moscow is a city where drivers routinely experience delays of more than an hour — and more than 45 percent of drivers have spent three hours or more in traffic, the “Commuter Pain Survey” revealed.

A shocking 40 percent to 50 percent of Moscow drivers said they failed to get to work because of traffic.

Surprisingly, drivers in this city were among the least likely to have changed the way they get to work during the past year, either because of habit or because there was no alternative route.

Residents were particularly likely in this city to forego a planned trip due to the amount of anticipated traffic.

7. New Delhi, India

Respondents in New Delhi suffered health-affecting traffic accidents more than in other cities, according to the “Commuter Pain Survey.”Despite the fact, drivers in this city reported that traffic had become significantly better in recent years. New Delhi is one of the cities surveyed where drivers crave better road information, and where the drivers are the most hopeful about the public transportation options. Drivers here were among the most likely to have changed the way they get to work duri
Manan Vatsyayana | AFP | Getty Images

Respondents in New Delhi suffered health-affecting traffic accidents more than in other cities, according to the “Commuter Pain Survey.”

Despite this fact, drivers in this city reported that traffic had become significantly better in recent years. New Delhi is one of the cities surveyed where drivers crave better road information, and where the drivers are the most hopeful about the public transportation options.

Drivers here were among the most likely to have changed the way they get to work during the past year. Residents were particularly likely to forego a planned trip due to the amount of anticipated traffic.

Respondents from New Delhi are among the most prone to say they would work more if they weren’t stuck in traffic so much.

6. Bangalore, India

Inhabitants of Bangalore tend to spend the most time on their commute -- around 40 minutes on average, the “Commuter Pain Survey” found. More than half of respondents in this city reported high stress from driving. Drivers in Bangalore reported suffering health-affecting traffic accidents more than in other cities, and it is one of the cities surveyed where drivers desire better road information the most.Drivers in this city were among the most likely to have changed the way they get to work dur
Dibyangshu Sarkard | AFP | Getty Images

Inhabitants of Bangalore tend to spend the most time on their commute — around 40 minutes on average, the “Commuter Pain Survey” found. More than half of respondents in this city reported high stress from driving.

Drivers in Bangalore reported suffering health-affecting traffic accidents more than in other cities, and it is one of the cities surveyed where drivers desire better road information the most.

Drivers in this city were among the most likely to have changed the way they get to work during the past year. Motorbikes are a hugely popular mode of transportation in Bangalore.

Residents were particularly likely in this city to forego a planned trip due to the amount of anticipated traffic, and drivers were among the most prone to say they’d work more if they weren’t stuck in traffic so much.

5. Johannesburg, South Africa

The “Commuter Pain Survey” found that Johannesburg residents tend to have the most miles in their commute at 15 miles or more, and they tend to spend the most time on their commute -- around 40 minutes on average.More than half of respondents reported high stress from driving, and 70 percent of commuters are likely to drive to work in a car alone. Many commuters reported giving up on a car trip and returning home because traffic was so bad.
Ivo Gonzalez | Getty Images

The “Commuter Pain Survey” found that Johannesburg residents tend to have the most miles in their commute at 15 miles or more, and they tend to spend the most time on their commute — around 40 minutes on average.

More than half of respondents reported high stress from driving, and 70 percent of commuters are likely to drive to work in a car alone.

Many commuters reported giving up on a car trip and returning home because traffic was so bad.

4. Nairobi, Kenya

Inhabitants of Nairobi tend to spend the most time on their commute -- around 40 minutes on average, according to the “Commuter Pain Survey.” This is a city where drivers routinely experience delays of more than an hour, and 35 percent of drivers have spent three hours or more in traffic. More than 70 percent of respondents in this city are likely to drive to work in a car alone, but buses are a popular transportation mode in this city, as are shared taxis, or “matutu.”In Nairobi, many commuters
Casper Hedberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Inhabitants of Nairobi tend to spend the most time on their commute —around 40 minutes on average, according to the “Commuter Pain Survey.”

This is a city where drivers routinely experience delays of more than an hour, and 35 percent of drivers have spent three hours or more in traffic.

More than 70 percent of respondents in this city are likely to drive to work in a car alone, but buses are a popular transportation mode in this city, as are shared taxis, or “matutu.”

In Nairobi, many commuters surveyed have opted to turn around and abandon their journey because traffic was so bad. Residents were also particularly likely in this city to forego a planned trip due to the amount of anticipated traffic.

Respondents from this city were among the most prone to say they would work more if they weren’t spending so much time in traffic.

3. Beijing, China

The “Commuter Pain Survey” found that anger caused by traffic is among the highest here of all the cities. Beijing drivers particularly dislike stop-and-go traffic.
STR | AFP | Getty Images

The “Commuter Pain Survey” found that anger caused by traffic is among the highest here of all the cities. Beijing drivers particularly dislike stop-and-go traffic.

In Beijing, drivers routinely experience delays of more than an hour, and inhabitants of this city tend to spend the most time on their commute — around 40 minutes on average. Respondents in Beijing also suffered health-affecting traffic accidents more than in any other city.

Despite the city’s poor showing in the list, Beijing drivers reported that traffic had become significantly better in recent years. The drivers in Beijing are among the most hopeful about public transportation options.

Drivers in Beijing were among the most likely to have changed the way they get to work during the past year. A pronounced amount of commuters opted to turn around and abandon their journey because traffic was so bad. Residents were particularly likely in this city to forego a planned trip due to the amount of anticipated traffic.

What would Beijing residents do with their time if they weren’t stuck in so much traffic? Respondents from this city are among the most prone to say they’d work more.

2. Shenzhen, China

Anger from traffic is among the highest here of all the cities, according to the “Commuter Pain Survey.” This is a city where drivers routinely experience delays of more than an hour. Despite the city’s dismal ranking in the list, however, Shenzhen drivers actually reported that traffic had become significantly better. This is one of the cities where the drivers are the most hopeful about public transportation options. Buses continue to be a more popular transportation mode in this city. Drivers
Daniel Berehulak | Getty Images

Anger from traffic is among the highest here of all the cities, according to the “Commuter Pain Survey.” This is a city where drivers routinely experience delays of more than an hour.

Despite the city’s dismal ranking in the list, however, Shenzhen drivers, like those in Beijing, reported traffic had become significantly better. This is another of the cities where the drivers are the most hopeful about public transportation options. Buses continue to be a more popular transportation mode in this city.

Drivers here took particular exception to the stop-and-start form of traffic. A pronounced number of commuters in Shenzhen have opted to turn around and abandon their journey because traffic was so bad. Shenzhen residents also were particularly likely to forego a planned trip due to the amount of anticipated traffic.

Drivers in this city were among the most likely to have changed the way they get to work during the past year. Respondents in this city also suffered health-affecting traffic accidents more than in other cities.

1. Mexico City, Mexico

The “Commuter Pain Survey” found that Mexico City drivers routinely experience delays of more than an hour. Over half of respondents in this city reported high stress from driving. Drivers in Mexico City particularly took exception to the stop-and-start form of traffic. It’s one of the cities where the drivers are the most hopeful about public transportation options. Indeed, buses are a more popular transportation mode than cars in this city. A significant amount of Mexico City commuters have op
Hiroyuki Masumoto | Getty Images

The “Commuter Pain Survey” found Mexico City drivers routinely experience delays of more than an hour. Over half of respondents in this city reported high stress from driving.

Drivers in Mexico City took particular exception to the stop-and-start form of traffic. It’s one of the cities where the drivers are the most hopeful about public transportation options. Indeed, buses are a more popular transportation mode than cars in this city.

A significant amount of Mexico City commuters have opted to turn around and abandon a journey at least once because traffic was so bad, and 40 percent to 50 percent of survey respondents have actually failed to get to work because of traffic.

Mexico City drivers were among the most likely to have changed the way they get to work during the past year.