Fleet News

Congestion costs UK almost £8bn in 2018

Three-quarters (74%) of city dwellers want smart city measures to cut congestion, research from ATG Access has shown

London, with 227 hours lost due to congestion, and Birmingham at 134 hours, have been ranked as the worst cities in the UK for time lost due to congestion by Inrix.

Publishing its annual Global Traffic Scorecard, Inrix has identified and ranked congestion and mobility trends in more than 200 cities across 38 countries.

In the UK, the 2018 Traffic Scorecard analysed congestion and the severity of it in the top 20 urban areas. Drivers in the UK lost an average of 178 hours a year due to congestion, costing drivers £7.9 billion in 2018, an average of £1,317 per driver.

London drivers lost up to £1,680 per year due to congestion, followed by Edinburgh (£1,219), Manchester (£1,157) and Leicester (£1,145). Liverpool had the lowest cost of congestion among the UK cities studied at £878 per driver.

“Congestion costs Brits billions of pounds each year. Unaddressed, it will continue to have serious consequences for national and local economies, businesses and citizens in the years to come,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX.

“In order to avoid traffic congestion becoming a further drain on our economy, it is increasingly obvious that authorities need to adapt. With the help of new and innovative intelligent transportation solutions, we can begin to tackle the mobility issues we face today.”

At the global level, Moscow topped the list of the world’s most gridlocked cities (210 hours lost due to congestion) when weighting for population, followed by Istanbul, Bogota, Mexico City and São Paulo.

The dominance of Latin American cities should not be a surprise due to their rapid urbanisation, high levels of informal settlements, unforgiving topographies and financial volatility. London was the only UK city in the Top 10 most congested cited in the world.

Glynn Barton, director of network management at Transport for London (TfL), said: “We are taking bold action to reduce congestion and improve London’s poor air quality. This includes removing the Congestion Charge exemption for private hire vehicles and reducing the time taken to clear up unplanned incidents, ensuring that roadworks by utilities companies and others are better coordinated. We are also working with the freight industry to encourage more efficient deliveries across the capital.”

“To directly tackle poor air quality, we are ensuring that buses, taxis and private hire vehicles are as green as possible, alongside the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone this April.

“In delivering the Mayor’s ambitious plans for 80% of all journeys to be made by public transport, walking or cycling by 2041, our plans will further help tackle congestion across London.”

INRIX analysed 500 Terabytes of data from 300 million different sources covering more than five million miles of road.

The data used in the 2018 Global Scorecard is the congested or uncongested status of every segment of road for every minute of the day, as used by millions of drivers around the world that rely on INRIX-based traffic services.

Caroline Pidgeo, chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, said: “The revelation that London is the sixth most gridlocked city in the world, behind Moscow, Istanbul, Bogota and Mexico City, will come as no surprise to most road users.

“This is a shockingly expensive fact and hugely damaging to our global reputation. Getting millions of Londoners to and from work every day is a massive challenge – but we really have to try harder for the sake of our economy and our environment.

“The need to improve London’s public transport capacity is desperate – hence the urgent necessity for Crossrail and more people could be encouraged to walk and cycle whenever possible.”

Road-user charging

In 2017, the Transport Committee report ‘London Stalling’ made a number of recommendations including: investigating the next generation of smart road-user charging.

Emeritus Professor Roger Vickerman from the School of Economics at the University of Kent also believes tackling congestion on UK roads requires innovative new ideas, chiefly a form of road pricing that charges for use rather than simply vehicle ownership.

“A year on from the report that UK drivers spend an average of 31 hours a year in traffic jams we now have evidence on the most congested roads in the UK,” said Vickerman. “This shows that although the worst trouble spots are in London the problem affects all our big cities.

“I have argued before that what is needed is a nationwide system of charging for roads by use – road pricing. But this would need to be embedded within a much more strategic rethink of how we provide the transport we need for our cities and towns.

“We already have blunt instruments such as the London Congestion Charge, but a sophisticated system of electronic tolling would charge drivers for their actual use of the system and by differentiating by the time of day can encourage those with the flexibility to adjust their journeys to times of lower traffic volumes.”

Vickerman believes that the current system of charging motorists is a tax on car purchase and ownership, and doesn’t distinguish by area of residence or actual use.

“Cars spend an average 95% of their life parked,” he said. “Residents of rural areas, many of whom have no alternative to using a car, typically travel on the least congested roads, but pay the same in road tax and fuel duty.

“Such drivers would be better off under a system which charged for the actual use of roads that reflected levels of congestion.

“The overall cost to road users would be less; the estimated average cost of that 31 hours of wasted time is £1168; that would pay for a lot of miles.

“The usual response is to call for more road building, and whilst that and junction improvements can help in some cases, the evidence suggests that traffic typically expands to fill the space available.

“But it is not just about cars competing for road space. Much of the increase in traffic in towns comes from van traffic – typically delivering our online purchas2es – we have to recognise that this too has a cost that will have to be paid for." 

Eventually, as with any limited resource, Vickerman claims that the only solution is one that uses price as a means of allocation. “That’s how we charge for the alternatives such as bus, rail or air,” he said, “and if all modes of transport were priced on the same basis we could make a better-informed choice of the right one to use for each journey.

“This shows the need for a much more integrated approach to transport planning embracing new technologies both in the delivery of transport services and in paying for them. Politicians need to grasp this nettle now.”

Most Congested Urban Areas in the UK

2018 Impact Rank (2017)

Urban Area

Hours Lost in Congestion (Rank 2018)

Year Over Year Change

Intercity Last Mile-Travel Time (minutes)

Intercity Last-Mile Speed (MPH)

Cost of Congestion per Driver

1 (1)

London

227 (1)

1%

8

7

£1,680

2 (2)

Birmingham

134 (12)

-4%

5

12

£994

3 (3)

Glasgow

99 (16)

4%

6

13

£736

4 (7)

Manchester

156 (4)

2%

6

10

£1,157

5 (5)

Bristol

149 (9)

0%

8

8

£1,099

6 (4)

Edinburgh

165 (3)

10%

8

7

£1,219

7 (8)

Sheffield

149 (8)

1%

6

10

£1,101

8 (9)

Leicester

155 (5)

-4%

6

11

£1,145

9 (10)

Leeds

143 (10)

6%

5

12

£1,057

10 (6)

Liverpool

119 (13)

-16%

6

9

£878

The Most Congested Corridors in the UK

The A406 from Chiswick Roundabout to Hanger Lane tops the Inrix list of worst corridors in UK, with the average driver wasting 61 hours per year in congestion. The A23, the Strand and Leeds Road and the A34 in Birmingham make up the top five.

20 Most Congested UK Roads in 2018

Rank

City

Road Name

From

To

Daily Delay (Mins)

Yearly Delay (Hrs)

1

London

A406|North Circular Road

Chiswick Roundabout

Hanger Lane

15

61

2

London

A23

Kennington

Thornton Road

14

56

3

London

Kingsway|Strand|Fleet|Cannon Street

Russell Square

Monument

12

49

4

Leeds

Leeds Road|Saltaire Road

Harrogate Road

Bradford Road

11

44

5

Birmingham

A34|Stratford Road

Highfield Road

Highgate Middleway

11

44

6

London

A406|North Circular Road

A1

A10

11

43

7

London

A2103

Canary Warf

Tower of London

11

43

8

Birmingham

A34|Stratford Road

Highgate Middleway

Highfield Road

11

42

9

Leeds

Huddersfield Road|Leeds Road

Dewsbury

Huddersfield

10

40

10

Manchester

Bury New Road

Higher Broughton

M60

9

34

11

Manchester

Bramhall Lane South

Bridge Lane

Stockport

8

33

12

Birmingham

Dudley Port

Black Country New Road

Dudley

8

32

13

Manchester

Chapel|Crescent|Broad Street

Victoria Bridge

M60

8

32

14

Glasgow

Great Western Road

Kelvinside

Bearsden Road

8

31

15

Birmingham

Soho Hill|Birmingham Road

Icknield Street

M5

8

30

10 Most Congested Cities in the World in 2018

2018 Impact Rank (2017)

Urban Area

Country

Region

Hours Lost in Congestion (Rank 2018)

Year Over Year Change

1 (1)

Moscow

Russia

Europe

210 (10 )

-12%

2 (3)

Istanbul

Turkey

Europe

157 (32 )

6%

3 (2)

Bogota

Colombia

South America

272 (1 )

-5%

4 (4)

Mexico City

Mexico

South America

218 (9 )

3%

5 (5)

São Paulo

Brazil

South America

154 (39 )

-1%

6 (6)

London

U.K.

Europe

227 (6 )

1%

7 (8)

Rio de Janeiro

Brazil

South America

199 (13 )

15%

8 (7)

Boston, MA

United States

North America

164 (25 )

-6%

9 (9)

Saint Petersburg

Russia

Europe

200 (12 )

-5%

10 (13)

Rome

Italy

Europe

254 (2 )

16%

 



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