Mumbai was India’s most and the world’s fifth-most congested city in the year 2021, according to the latest TomTom Traffic Index based on a study of 404 cities across 58 nations. The metropolitan city was the second most congested city in the world after Moscow a year earlier, Hindustan Times reported.
TomTom offers real-time traffic management and historical traffic congestion data to assist governments plan their infrastructure projects and introduce more public transport schemes.
Mumbai’s congestion level was 53% in 2021 followed by Bengaluru and New Delhi (48%) each and Pune (42%). The peak traffic went down from 75% to 69% in the city. In 2019, it was 91%. There was a 22% reduction in peak traffic in 2021 compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic years.
Congestion level percentage is an indicative of the added time a driver has to spend for reaching from one place to another over and above the time required in the normal and free-flow traffic conditions.
A 50% congestion level implies that on average, travel times were 50% longer than during the baseline uncongested situations. This suggests a 30-minute drive in free-flow condition will need 50℅ more time, or 15 more minutes to travel the same distance when congestion is at 50℅.
TomTom calculates the baseline per city by studying free-flow travel times of all vehicles on the entire road network 24/7 and 365 days a year.
As per the index, Mumbai’s worst traffic day was on August 21, 2021, when three religious celebrations coincided.
Sachin Tyagi, strategic automotive business development manager, TomTom, said changes in working habits solidified in 2021. “The home office is becoming a standard for many companies. Teleconferences replaced physical meetings and flexible work hours have allowed many commuters to avoid and offset rush hours. As a result, peak hours shifted in almost 40% of the cities worldwide.”
He further added at the heart of their location intelligence is the map. “We work with big data and optimise our maps with artificial intelligence and machine learning. The real-time traffic information we collect to understand congestion patterns indicates that mobility options are rapidly changing as a part of the adaptable lifestyles resulting from the pandemic.”
Tyagi said the congestion levels were lower compared to pre-pandemic times. “It is mostly because of demand for e-commerce and changes in work patterns in Indian cities.”
Tyagi said policymakers need to be cognisant of the positive change and implement norms aimed at bettering road infrastructure. “This will further bring down congestion levels, and promote alternative sustainable transport modes, which could improve emission levels too. Adoption of better technology that utilises real-time data, bold investments, and fearless policy decisions are the key to the transformation.”
Tyagi urged people to opt for cycling or even e-scooters for short-distance travel to help reduce traffic congestion.