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IBM Global Commuter Pain Study Reveals Traffic Crisis in Key International Cities

-- 8,192 motorists in 20 cities on six continents surveyed
-- Overall, traffic has gotten worse in the past three years

Armonk, NY - 30 Jun 2010: -- Moscow copes with the two-and-a-half hour traffic jam
-- Despite congestion, Beijing drivers report improvement in traffic
-- Houston, New York and Los Angeles fare well, relatively speaking

The daily commute in some of the world's most economically important international cities is longer and more grueling than before imagined, reflecting the failure of transportation infrastructure to keep pace with economic activity, according to IBM's (NYSE: IBM) first global Commuter Pain study released today.

IBM surveyed 8,192 motorists in 20 cities on six continents, the majority of whom say that traffic has gotten worse in the past three years. The congestion in many of today's developing cities is a relatively recent phenomenon, having paralleled the rapid economic growth of those cities during the past decade or two. By contrast, the traffic in places like New York, Los Angeles or London has developed gradually over many decades, giving officials more time and resources to address the problem.  

Rather Be Working

For example, the middle class in China is growing rapidly, with the number of new cars registered in Beijing in the first four months of 2010 rising 23.8% to 248,000, according to the Beijing municipal taxation office. Beijing's total investments in its subway system are projected to be more than 331.2 billion yuan by 2015 as the city expands the system to more than double its current size, according to Beijing Infrastructure Investment Co., Ltd.  The city plans to invest 80 billion yuan in 2010 in building its transportation infrastructure.

The study did offer a number of bright spots. Forty eight percent of drivers surveyed in Beijing reported that traffic has improved in the past three years – the high for the survey – reflecting substantial initiatives to improve the transportation network in that city.  In addition, the commute for drivers in Stockholm, Sweden seems to be, if not pleasant, then largely pain-free. Only 14% of Stockholm drivers surveyed said that roadway traffic negatively affected work or school performance.

Overall, though, the study paints a picture of metropolitan-area commuters in many cities struggling to get to and from work each day. For example, 57% of all respondents say that roadway traffic has negatively affected their health, but that percentage is 96% in New Delhi and 95% in Beijing.

Similarly, 29% overall say that roadway traffic has negatively affected work or school performance, but that percentage rises to 84% in Beijing, 62% in New Delhi, and 56% in Mexico City.

Moscow was notable for the duration of its traffic jams. Drivers there reported an average delay of two-and-a-half hours when asked to report the length of the worst traffic jam they experienced in the past three years.

IBM Commuter Pain Index

IBM compiled the results of the survey into an Index that ranks the emotional and economic toll of commuting in each city on a scale of one to 100, with 100 being the most onerous. The Index reveals a tremendous disparity in the pain of the daily commute from city to city. Stockholm had the least painful commute of the cities studied, followed by Melbourne and Houston (which tied) and New York City. Here's how the cities stack up:

Commuter Pain Index

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. The cities scored as follows: Beijing: 99, Mexico City: 99, Johannesburg: 97, Moscow: 84, New Delhi: 81, Sao Paolo: 75, Milan: 52, Buenos Aires: 50, Madrid: 48, London: 36, Paris: 36, Toronto: 32, Amsterdam: 25, Los Angeles: 25, Berlin: 24, Montreal: 23, New York: 19, Houston: 17, Melbourne: 17, Stockholm: 15.

"Traditional solutions -- building more roads -- will not be enough to overcome the growth of traffic in these rapidly developing cities, so multiple solutions need to be deployed simultaneously to avoid a failure of the transportation networks," said Naveen Lamba, IBM's global industry lead for intelligent transportation. "New techniques are required that empower transportation officials to better understand and proactively manage the flow of traffic."

IBM Global Commuter Pain Survey – Major Findings

Analysis of the survey results indicated a number of key findings related to how traffic impacts commuters:

The Commuter Pain Survey was conducted by IBM to better understand consumer thinking toward traffic congestion as the issue reaches crisis proportions nationwide and higher levels of auto emissions stir environmental concerns. These events are impacting communities around the world, where governments, citizens and private sector organizations are looking beyond traditional remedies like additional roads and greater access to public transportation to reverse the negative impacts of increased road congestion.

This year marks the first global Commuter Pain survey. IBM previously conducted the Commuter Pain survey in the United States in 2008 and 2009.

IBM is actively working in the area of Smarter Transportation using a worldwide team of scientists, industry experts and IT services professionals to research, test and deploy new traffic information management capabilities in cities around the world. Findings from the Commuter Pain Survey will be used to assess citizen concerns about traffic and commuter issues; expand solutions like automated tolling, real-time traffic prediction, congestion charging, and intelligent route planning; and serve as a basis for pioneering innovative new approaches to traffic mitigation.

Contact(s) information

John Buscemi
IBM Media Relations
+1-914-766-2607
jbuscemi@us.ibm.com

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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. The cities scored as follows: Beijing: 99, Mexico City: 99, Johannesburg: 97, Moscow: 84, New Delhi: 81, Sao Paolo: 75, Milan: 52, Buenos Aires: 50, Madrid: 48, London: 36, Paris: 36, Toronto: 32, Amsterdam: 25, Los Angeles: 25, Berlin: 24, Montreal: 23, New York: 19, Houston: 17, Melbourne: 17, Stockholm: 15.

This chart shows the percentage of drivers in each of 20 cities who would choose to work more if their commute time could be significantly reduced, according to IBM's 2010 Commuter Pain survey which guages the physical and emotional toll that everyday traffic has on people around the world.

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IBM 2010 Consumer Pain Index

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