The World's Worst Commutes

Commuting is among life's least enjoyable activities, according to research by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman and others. The graph below shows the cities with the worst commutes in the world, according to IBM's Commuter Pain Index (via Wired).


The city with the world's worst commute, according to the IBM study, is Beijing, followed by Mexico City, Johannesburg, Moscow, and New Delhi. London, New York, L.A., and my adopted hometown of Toronto also rank in the top 20. Stockholm has the world's best commute among the 20 cities in the IBM survey.

Commuting is a waste of energy and time, and carries with it enormous economic costs. Commuting costs America an estimated $90 billion dollars per year in terms of lost productivity and wasted energy, according to the annual Urban Mobility Report. Our own detailed calculations by Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) research director Kevin Stolarick find that every minute shaved off America's commuting time is worth an estimated $19.5 billion dollars.  That translates into $97.7 billion for five minutes, $195 billion for 10 minutes, and $292 billion for every 15 minutes saved nationally.

The chart below from the IBM study shows the percentage of drivers in each of the 20 surveyed cities who would work more if their commuting time was significantly reduced.


The index is based on IBM surveys of 8,192 motorists in 20 cities across six continents:

The index is comprised of 10 issues: 1) commuting time, 2) time stuck in traffic, agreement that: 3) price of gas is already too high, 4) traffic has gotten worse, 5) start-stop traffic is a problem, 6) driving causes stress, 7) driving causes anger, 8) traffic affects work, 9) traffic so bad driving stopped, and 10) decided not to make trip due to traffic.

Presented by

Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative ClassWho's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here

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