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News Room

Which SA City Has The Worst Traffic?

Jason Snyman
2020-02-12
TomTom's latest Traffic Index has revealed the cities with the highest levels of traffic congestion in the world. Where does South Africa place on the global list, and which SA city has the most soul-crushing traffic conditions of them all?

Eskom’s unwavering devotion to the complete annihilation of the South African economy has had commuters seething all the way to work and back these last couple of months. Peak-hour load-shedding has inevitably resulted in traffic snarl-ups all across the country, and the bigger, more populated metropolitan areas have naturally had it worst of all. 

Though, even during the rare load-shedding respite (see: when a country runs like it normally should), the Foreshore intersection throttle will always bring Cape Town to its early-morning knees, the bustling hijack-happy streets of Johannesburg will always keep us firmly at the edge of our seats, trying to stave off an anxiety attack, and Durban, well, who really knows what’s going on over there.

Last week, location technology company, TomTom, released the results of its latest Traffic Index, detailing the traffic data of 416 cities in 57 countries. Worst traffic in the world? That dubious honour belongs to the city of Bengaluru, India, where motorists can expect to spend 71% more time stuck in heavily congested traffic.

How does South Africa compare? Let’s take a look. 

The Worst Traffic In South Africa

Time is money. The data shows that global traffic congestion has increased over the last decade, and though generally being an indicator of a strong economy, has actually cost economies billions. 

On the state of the world’s traffic congestion, TomTom’s VP of Traffic Information, Ralf-Peter Schäfer, said:

Globally, there’s a long road to travel until congestion levels are brought under control. In time, the rise of autonomous vehicles and car-sharing services will help alleviate congestion, but planners and policymakers can’t afford to sit and wait. They need to use all the tools available to them to analyse traffic l Schäfer evels and impacts, so they can make critical infrastructure decisions.

Schäfer added that drivers have a role to play too, and that small changes in driving behaviour (courtesy, patience, caution, respect, lawfulness, etc.) can make a huge difference. 

But, let’s get to the data. 

Globally, India is home to three of the top five most congested cities in the world. On the African continent, the city with the highest congestion levels is Cairo, Egypt, placing 36th on the overall list. All other African cities on the list belonged to South Africa.

Pretoria placed 207th on the list and Johannesburg at 121st. The city with the absolute worst traffic in the country, however, is still Cape Town. The Mother City placed at 101st on the overall list, with motorists spending 31% more time (or, by TomTom’s estimate, an average of 20-21 extra minutes per 30 minute trip) in soul-destroying peak-hour traffic. This equates to a rough total of six days and 10 hours stuck in traffic, every year. 

TomTom’s data showed that the best day of traffic in CT in 2019 occurred on Sunday, August 11, and the worst day of traffic occurred on Friday, October 25. The data also showed that completing your travel before 7am in the morning would save you 5 hours per year, and that the morning rush tends to be 4% worse than the evening rush.

In 2019, Cape Town’s traffic congestion had increased by 1% from the previous year, indicating that the problem, as in most cities the world-over, is worsening. 

Johannesburg and Pretoria’s level of congestion remained flat at 30%, and of all South African cities, the greatest increase (up 2%) was seen in East London.

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