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Building roads to beat jams ‘no longer effective’

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Company car and van drivers are facing even greater delays, with traffic congestion getting worse in 11 out of 17 of Britain’s biggest cities in the past year. 

Cities where congestion levels have gone up since this time last year include Belfast, Brighton, London, Manchester, Leicester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle.

Only Edinburgh, Leeds-Bradford and Nottingham have seen congestion levels fall. In others, such as Bristol, Birmingham and Glasgow, congestion levels have remained stable in the past 12 months.

The Government has announced a £28 billion road improvement plan in an effort to tackle the problem. It includes a trebling of funding for motorways and major A-roads – leading to the biggest-ever upgrade of the existing network.

But improvements to the network will take time to materialise and it could be argued that faster routes between cities will cause more congestion within the city centres.

“The way traffic is managed needs significant change,” said Harold Goddijn, chief executive officer of TomTom.

“The traditional responses to tackling congestion, such as building new roads or widening existing ones, are no longer proving effective.”

The TomTom Traffic Index shows that Belfast remains the most congested city in the UK, with journey times up to 88% longer in morning peak times and 32% throughout the day than if traffic was free-flowing.

Second is Bristol with journey times up to 66% longer in evening peak times, followed by Brighton where travelling during rush hour takes 45% longer than usual.

Despite the congestion charge, driving in London now takes more time than 12 months ago with drivers enduring rush-hour journey times of up to 60% longer than non-peak times. 

Over the course of a day, driving in London takes 29% longer than it would if traffic was free-flowing, making it the fifth most congested city in the UK – just behind Edinburgh.

The TomTom Traffic Index compares travel times during non-congested hours with travel times in peak hours. The Index takes into account local roads and highways.

“The findings indicate that real-time traffic information has the potential to ease congestion in urban areas by routing drivers away from gridlock,” said Goddijn.

The TomTom Traffic Index shows that across the UK, typical journeys take 23% longer in morning and evening rush hours. Cardiff has seen the biggest increase in congestion in the past year, followed by Portsmouth and Brighton.

Belfast, Bristol and Edinburgh all top London when it comes to evening rush hour commuting. In Belfast, an average morning commute travel time can be almost doubled by congestion.

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