Although Johannesburg is likely the first city that pops into your head when traffic congestion is mentioned, Cape Town is actually SA’s most congested city according to the TomTom Traffic Index – it’s been that way for a few years now and the 2017 Index shows that state of affairs has not changed.
According to the latest report, Cape Town is the 48th most congested city in the world, while Johannesburg (second in SA) only ranks 70th in global terms. The most congested city on earth, according to TomTom, is Mexico City, followed by Bangkok and then Indonesia’s Jakarta, China’s Chongqing and Romania’s Bucharest. Globally traffic congestion is up by 23 percent since 2008 and 10 percent since 2015, but some cities have shown improvements, including our own biggest metropole.
Johannesburg was one of only six cities (out of the 390 studied) to have received an honourable mention by the international panel of traffic experts for its “implementation of effective traffic management systems across the city”. TomTom said its index had shown a marked improvement in Johannesburg’s ranking since 2009, although the city has seen congestion increase by three percent since 2015.
Project Coordinator for the Stellenbosch Smart Mobility Laboratory, Megan Bruwer, said that the city’s improved ranking was largely as a result of infrastructure development: "The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, Open Road Tolling and numerous ITS applications implemented along freeway corridors have also had a positive impact on traffic congestion, not to mention the establishment of the Gautrain."
As you’ll see in the diagram above, TomTom gives a percentage to each city it ranks, which it bases on the extra travel time that commuters need to take account of in those areas.
While Cape Town sits at a congestion level of 35 percent, and Joburg at 30 percent, surprisingly East London follows closely in third with 29 percent, ahead of Pretoria (26 percent) and Durban (22 percent) and Bloemfontein (18 percent), which were the only other SA cities mentioned in the study.
This is the sixth year in which TomTom has released a Traffic Index, which the navigation specialist puts together with the help of almost 19 trillion data points that have been accumulated since 2008.