A survey has found that congestion on the UK’s roads has increased by over 40% in the last 4 years. The findings were brought to light by research carried out by traffic information company Inrix.
Unsurprisingly London was found to be the worst city for congestion. Inrix calculated that its drivers spend 101 hours a year, equivalent to more than 12 working days held up in rush-hour traffic. Motorists have been taking up to 11 minutes to travel the 350 yards over London Bridge in recent weeks.
Vans delivering internet shopping orders, the surge in private hire driver numbers, uncoordinated roadworks and new cycle lanes are blamed for the escalation of traffic jams.
Buses slower than horse and carts
Data released by TfL revealed the average speed of buses through the streets of London’s West End is a paltry 3.8 mph – close to the average person’s walking pace and slower than a horse and cart.
The deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross, believes the “burgeoning growth” of private hire vehicles from 50,000 to around 100,000 in the last 5 years to be a significant factor. The popularity of minicab-hailing apps such as Uber have contributed to this dramatic increase.
She also highlighted the popularity of internet shopping as a possible cause with central London workers arranging for parcels to be dropped off at their workplaces. Delivery van numbers in the congestion zone increased by nearly 10% to 76,000 in 2014 compared to figures two years prior.
Congestion zone has had little impact
On average traffic in central London travelled at 8.3mph in 2015 compared with 8.8mph in 2002, which was the year prior to the introduction of the charge, that stands at £11.50 a day. City hall is pinning its hopes to the introduction of Crossrail and a series of pedestrianisation plans to reduce congestion in the capital by 2020.
There are also plans to remove the congestion charge exemption for 0 emission capable private hire vehicles. However private hire unions and driver associations plan to hold protests if this measure it introduced
Increased traffic is a nationwide problem
London is not alone in suffering an increase int the severity of its congestion. In Coventry drivers wasted 28 hours in congestion in 2015. This is a rise of 34% from 2012. Similar figures were reported in Cardiff and the South Wales valleys.
Drivers in Greater Manchester suffered a 15% increase and spent 51 hours of their year of crawling along in bumper to bumper with one another. This has led to the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has urged the chancellor to allocate some of the £33 billion motorists pay in road tax to help tackle the issue.
Traffic levels already exceed 2030 Projections
Inrix analysed congestion over a four-year period in 18 urban area that cover over 50% of the UK population. It found that the average number of hours wasted each year by drivers sat in traffic increased by 27% to 58 hours since 2012. Traffic levels have already exceeded figures projected for 2030.
Problem costs economy £9 billion every year
It has been suggested that the issue of traffic in the UK is so severe that is plays a substantial part in holding back the economy’s productivity. Output statistics per hour worked by the average Uk employee have for a long period compared unfavourably to our European counterparts.
Graham Cookson, Inrix’s chief economist estimates that the traffic volumes are costing the UK economy £9 billion a year. The London Chamber of Commerce have called for segregated cycle lanes to be ripped up. They site that average speeds around the Elephant and Castle areas have dropped by 2.3mph to 12.6mph since their construction.
Impact worse for professional drivers
The figures above are largely based on hours spent on the roads by average drivers. The professional commercial drivers of the UK haven’t needed a survey to point out that traffic issues have reached breaking point.
Its a serious issue that affects not only their earning capability but their health in the form of stress and increased pollution. We’d love to hear your suggestions for tackling the issue. We’ll compile the best and submit them to the powers that be.
In the mean time we’re left watching this space….in what is increasingly becoming a very large car park.
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