Worst City For Motorists to Drive In

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Toronto commuters’ stress and anger levels are soaring, a global survey of the pain of road travel has found, but our ills still pale in comparison to Mexico City.

The capital of Mexico ranked the worst out of 20 cities for commuting, based on interviews with 8,042 commuters in those cities. Montreal ranked the best out of 20.

The 2011 IBM Commuter Pain survey ranked Toronto among the best cities for driving (the city came in at a relatively low 16th), but GTA drivers also reported big jumps in frustration, anger and damaging effects on their work or schooling.

Anger levels in those behind the wheel on Toronto roads leapt to 29 per cent in the 2011 survey, compared with 14 per cent in 2010.

Stress levels skyrocketed: up 40 per cent this year, compared with 14 per cent last year, putting Toronto in the same agitation league as commuters in New York and Los Angeles and worse than London.

Nearly 30 per cent of Torontonians told IBM this year that their rotten commute coloured their performance at work or school, compared with only 17 per cent the year before.

Still, 23 per cent of the Toronto drivers questioned did say commuting in Greater Toronto had improved in the last year, a marked improvement from only 8 per cent reporting that in 2010.

And Toronto didn’t even make it onto the list of the most frustrated drivers who grapple with delays of more than two hours. Mexico City, Beijing and Shenzhen all cool their wheels in jams and detours and delays for that long.

In Moscow, 45 per cent of drivers reported being stuck in traffic for more than three hours; in Nairobi, 35 per cent sat there for that long

“Traffic congestion is down on a global level, while the pain of commuting is increasing,” said Vinodh Swaminathan, IBM’s director of intelligent transportation systems.

Economic weakness and high fuel prices were two reasons for the drop in traffic congestion since the survey was first conducted four years ago, Swaminathan said. Huge investments in roads and public transit infrastructure by emerging economic powers China and India also helped a bit.

Mexico City — which had the highest driver pain index of 108, compared to Montreal’s 21 — intends to spend more than $2 billion in coming years to ease its colossal traffic problem, Swaminathan said in an interview with the Associated Press.

“You cannot build your way out of congestion. It has to be a balance of infrastructure improvements and technology,” he said.

Beijing and Shenzhen drivers were the angriest in the survey and Milanese the most stressed, followed closely by Mexico Cityites.

While more than 70 per cent of commuters in Los Angeles, Nairobi and Johannesburg drive by themselves to and from school and work, more commuters overall in London, Paris, Madrid, New York, Buenos Aires and Singapore took trains.

In what may be the real explanation of the French paradox (rich food, slim waistlines), 11 per cent of Parisian commuters walked, far more than any other city.

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