Northern Ireland news

Belfast drivers waste 195 hours a year in traffic - study

Belfast is more congested than Manchester, Edinburgh and even London and is the 14th most congested city in the world 
Neil Lancefield, PA

BELFAST is one of the most congested cities in the world, with drivers wasting an average of 195 hours in traffic, according to a study.

According to the analysis of journey times for the TomTom Traffic Index, Belfast is more congested than Manchester, Edinburgh and London and is the 14th most congested city in the world.

Average journey times in the city during congestion are 40 per cent slower than if traffic was flowing freely. This figure rises to 86 per cent during the evening peak.

The study found that drivers across the UK spent 127 hours, the equivalent of more than five extra days, in their vehicles last year than they would have if there were no queues.

Congestion was 4 per cent worse than 2014, with the problem increasing in 17 of the 25 towns and cities in the report.

Experts calculated that congestion across the UK has grown 14 per cent over the past five years, while in the rest of Europe the problem has eased by 3 per cent.

AA president Edmund King said this was because the UK's economy is "generally stronger".

London is the 20th most congested city in the world - and second worse in the UK - with average trips 38 per cent slower, rising to 66 per cent in the after-work rush.

Next on the list are Manchester and Edinburgh - with journeys taking 37 per cent longer - followed by Brighton (34 per cent), Hull (33 per cent) and Bournemouth (32 per cent).

Only Nottingham, Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Preston have shown slight decreases in congestion out of the 25 UK towns and cities in the report.

The analysis of 14 trillion pieces of traffic data worldwide found that commuters in Mexico City face the worst congestion as they endure an average of 59 per cent extra driving time, rising to 94 per cent in the evening peak.

The next most congested large cities are Bangkok (57 per cent), Istanbul (50 per cent) and Rio de Janeiro (47 per cent) - which is hosting the Olympic Games in August.

Ralf-Peter Schaefer of TomTom Traffic said: "More must be done to better manage existing road space and to spread demand.

"People simply aren't doing enough to change their travel habits - such as working flexible hours, avoiding peak commuting times, making use of real-time traffic information and trying alternative travel modes.

"If only 5 per cent of us changed our travel plans we could improve traffic congestion on our main roads by up to 30%."

Mr King claimed UK motorists are "fed up" with traffic jams.

They are "more interested in reliable journey times rather than faster journey times," he added.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said the Government is investing record amounts to cut congestion.

  •  Here are the 25 most congested cities in the UK in 2015 and their average increase in journey times compared to if traffic flowed freely, according to the TomTom Traffic Survey:

1. Belfast (40%)

2. London (38%)

3. Manchester (37%)

4. Edinburgh (37%)

5. Brighton (34%)

6. Hull (33%)

7. Bournemouth (32%)

8. Newcastle (31%)

9. Bristol (31%)

10. Sheffield (30%)

11. Leicester (29%)

12. Liverpool (29%)

13. Swansea (28%)

14. Birmingham (27%)

15. Leeds-Bradford (27%)

16. Nottingham (27%)

17. Glasgow (26%)

18. Cardiff (26%)

19. Coventry (25%)

20. Southampton (24%)

21. Reading (24%)

22. Portsmouth (23%)

23. Middlesbrough (21%)

24. Stoke-on-Trent (20%)

25. Preston (19%)

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