Vancouver second most congested city in North America

TomTom today announces the results of its 2012 Congestion Index, which measures traffic congestion in 161 cities across five continents and compares it to congestion levels in 2011. The annual Congestion Index also examines the congestion in 59 metropolitan areas with a population of more than 800,000 across North America, and found Vancouver continued to be the most congested city in Canada.

On average, journey times in Vancouver are 33 per cent longer than when traffic in the city is flowing freely and 68 per cent longer during evening rush hour. Although ranked 10th overall, Montreal’s evening peak is the third worst across North America, with an average 71 per cent longer commute than when traffic in the city is flowing free.

TomTom’s Congestion Index is the world’s most accurate barometer of congestion in urban areas. The Index is uniquely based on real travel time data captured by vehicles driving the entire road network. TomTom’s traffic database contains more than six trillion data measurements and is growing by five billion measurements every day. The average congestion level for all the North American cities analyzed between July and September 2012 is 18 per cent.

The 10 most congested North American cities, ranked by overall Congestion Level, in 2012 were:

  1. Los Angeles (33%)
  2. Vancouver (32%)
  3. Honolulu (30%)
  4. San Francisco (29%)
  5. Seattle (26%)
  6. Toronto (25%)
  7. San Jose (25%)
  8. Washington (25%)
  9. New Orleans (25%)
  10. Montreal (25%)

“TomTom’s Annual Congestion Index provides accurate insight into the world’s most congested cities,” said Ralf-Peter Schäfer, Head of Traffic at TomTom. “This detailed knowledge of the entire road network, helps businesses and governments make more informed decisions about how best to tackle and avoid congestion. TomTom’s world-class traffic information also helps drivers get to their destinations faster. Significantly, when used on a large scale, TomTom Traffic has the potential to ease congestion in cities and urban areas by routing drivers away from congested areas”

The methodology used in the Congestion Index compares measured travel times during non-congested periods (free flow) with travel times in peak hours. The difference is expressed as a percentage increase in travel time. The Index takes into account local roads, arterials, as well as highways. All data is based on actual GPS based measurements.

As well as assigning and ranking the overall congestion levels of over 161 cities around the world, the report analyses the congestion levels in cities at different times of the day and on different days of the week. TomTom analyzed capital cities as well as cities with a population of over 800,000. In addition, a selection of key cities with smaller populations was included based on their regional importance to the transportation network. The purpose of adding these smaller cities was to provide a better understanding of congestion levels within individual countries.

Individual city reports include more detailed information such as the most congested day, time delay per year for commuters and congestion levels on main and secondary roads.

What is the Solution?

Naturally building more roads is not the answer, just look at highway king Los Angeles. The key is to have an all inclusive transportation plan for the region and not just Vancouver. That being said, when it comes to mega transportation projects, Vancouver should be the regions priority. It is the financial, employment, educational, cultural and social hub of the region. If transportation (roads, transit etc..) into the city was improved but remained the same within city limits, all you will be doing is creating further congestion as the city will not be able to handle the additional capacity. Build more rapid transit in Vancouver and more LRT south of the Fraser.

The truth is Vancouver started to build its rapid transit network at a late stage in the city’s development and now it’s playing catch-up and the funding for such projects just isn’t there. Our transit system is good, but it can be better and definitely cover more of the city.

Increasing density around transit nodes is another real solution to the congestion problem. To encourage users to take transit it has to be accessible and fast. Buses just don’t cut it and extra density should be allowed all rapid transit stations.

Implementing policies that improve density and rapid transit is the only way Vancouver will be able to get out of this traffic nightmare.

Image via Mark Woodbury/Flickr

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