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US and UK City Congestion Compared

Research indicates that London remains more congested than cities in the US

Published on March 12, 2020



Research by transport analytics company INRIX has revealed that London remains among the 10 most congested cities in the world, ranking higher than US cities including Boston and Chicago.

The UK capital ranked 8th in the INRIX 2019 Global Traffic Scorecard, which looks at parameters including hours lost in congestions and the cost of congestion to whole economies and individual drivers. Londoners lost 149 hours through congestion in 2019, whilst Boston (9th - 149 hours lost) and Chicago (10th - 145 hours lost) were the only two US cities in the global top 10. Philadelphia (142 hours), New York City (140 hours) and Washington DC (124 hours) were also in the USA's top 5 most congested locations.

Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX, said that "Congestion costs Americans billions of dollars each year. However, it appears to be stabilizing in some of the country’s most congested metros – with delays raising roughly three percent nationwide since 2017 ... The continued innovation and investment in smarter roadway management is showing early signs of progress. To reflect an increasingly diverse mobility landscape, the 2019 Global Traffic Scorecard includes both public transport and biking metrics for the first time".

In terms of the UK, Reed explained that "Congestion costs drivers, businesses and the UK economy billions of pounds each year. With the rising price of motoring, consumers are getting hit hardest."

Looking at why the UK tends to be more congested than the US, Reed said that London has "very little road space and a whole lot of demand ... You have very severe congestion and a massive, relatively high earning population. UK cities are quite a bit older and a lot denser than American cities. London is over 2,000 years old. When you develop around walking, and horse and buggy, and everything but cars, the urban environment does not handle (cars) all that well."

One of the most congested roads in London during 2019 was the A2 between New Cross Gate and Vauxhall, ranking 4th in the stats with 7 minutes delay on a daily basis. The A2 is one of the major routes from the South East of England into the area of London where the US Embassy is located, in Nine Elms, so if you're traveling to the Embassy and want to avoid the traffic, have a look at our guide for other ways to get to Nine Elms.

So as well having to get used to driving on the other side of the road, Americans moving to London should also be aware that they may be stuck in more traffic! In positive news for Americans in London though, the city had previously been ranked 3rd worst city for congestion in the world, meaning that London may be finally getting on top of its congestion problems.

If you're an American planning to drive in the UK, check out our information on Driving in the UK, and if you'd like to see more data from the INRIX Global Scorecard, go to https://inrix.com/scorecard/

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