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SSML provides analysis of international TomTom Traffic Index Report
Author: Megan Bruwer
Published: 23/03/2016

TomTom released the results of the TomTom Traffic Index 2016 report on 22 March 2016. This annual report quantifies and rates the congestion levels in cities around the world. This year, Mexico City was classified as the most congested city in the world, followed by Bangkok, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro and Moscow. Cape Town is the most congested city in South Africa and is ranked 47th in the world. The TomTom Traffic Index considers traffic congestion in 295 cities in 38 countries across the globe. According to TomTom, congestion globally has increased by 13% since 2008.

The Traffic Index is the percentage of additional travel time that drivers experience during the heavily trafficked parts of the day when compared to uncongested travel conditions, for example in the middle of the night. Cape Town has a Traffic Index of 30%, which means that drivers will experience an average increase of trip length of 30% throughout the day. During the morning peak period (the period during the morning that experiences the highest traffic volumes), Capetonians can expect to add an additional 71% to free flowing travel time. Johannesburg has a daily Traffic Index of 27%, and a morning peak hour index of 60%. Cape Town congestion exceeded that of Johannesburg in 2013, as a result of the upgrades to the Gauteng Freeway network which had a positive effect in reducing congestion.

The Stellenbosch Smart Mobility Lab (SSML) was asked to provide an expert analysis of the 2016 TomTom Traffic Index Report. This analysis has been published by TomTom with their 2016 Traffic Index report. Refer to their website: for the full SSML report.

Whilst congestion is a global challenge, it is apparent from the 2016 results that nine of the ten most congested cities are in developing countries. The SSML researches mobility solutions within the developing country context and the TomTom dataset will become a valuable means of assessing transportation mobility in these countries.

The TomTom data reveals that in South Africa small cities have shown an increased rate of growth in congestion of nearly 7% per annum, which is far higher than the rate observed in larger cities in South Africa and worldwide (typically found to be between 1.5% and 3% per annum). This could reflect the rate of urbanisation in developing countries, particularly in smaller cities and highlights the urgent need for infrastructure and traffic management projects in these countries. 

The annual progression of the TomTom Traffic Index data clearly reflects the impact of intervention projects on congestion such as the recent major Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme. A significant reduction in the Traffic Index is observed following the roll out of the freeway improvements between 2010 and 2012.