IBM “Commuter Pain” Survey Focuses on Fuel Spending Limit, Frustration and Sleep Deprivation

ARMONK, NY - 30 May 2008: Commuter pain image

The first IBM Commuter Pain Survey released today shows a substantial number of drivers in U.S. metropolitan areas are fed up with longer commutes, higher fuel prices and increased pollution and are seeking to reduce the daily toll on their emotional well-being and wallets. 

The survey of 4,000 drivers in 10 U.S. cities, conducted by IBM’s Institute for Electronic Government, revealed that $4.50 per gallon of gas is the break point at which many drivers will seek alternatives to driving; and overall findings showed that commuter pain is highest in Los Angeles and lowest in Minneapolis. 

Analysis of the commuter responses indicated that a substantial percentage of daily commuters in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are seeking transportation alternatives via more flexible working hours, better mass transit and other commuting solutions.

“Traffic is choking our cities and our economy, causing a significant drag on productivity and reduced quality of life,” said John Nyland, Managing Partner, IBM Public Sector, and responsible for the company’s Intelligent Transportation initiatives. “To reverse this trend, we need a systemic approach that incorporates everything from new congestion management technologies to effective work-at-home programs that can ultimately improve environmental and economic conditions in our cities.” 

"These new insights from U.S. commuters highlight the urgent need for the use of technology and creative policies to reduce congestion on our community roadways," says Scott Belcher, President and CEO of Intelligent Transportation Society of America. "We believe relief is in sight for those cities that implement congestion fighting programs that combine technology, tolling, and public transportation."

IBM Commuter Pain Survey – Key Findings
Analysis of the survey results indicated a number of key findings related to how traffic impacts commuters:

IBM Commuter Pain Index
IBM has 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 10, with 10 being the most onerous. Here’s how the cities stack up:

Commuter Pain Index
Commuter Pain Index Chart
(Click for larger Image) Commuter Pain Index. IBM looked at the harsh reality of the daily commute – including start-stop traffic, anger issues, the effect on job performance and other factors – and compiled the results into an Index that shows the relative “commuting pain” from city to city.

The Commuter Pain Survey was conducted by IBM to better understand consumer thinking toward traffic congestion as the issue reaches crisis proportions nationwide, the price of gas continues to rise without letup and higher levels of auto emissions stir environmental concerns. These events are impacting communities in the U.S. and abroad, 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.

"Transportation congestion is one of the single largest threats to U.S. economic prosperity, and the problem reaches to cities around the world," said Gerry Mooney, IBM General Manager, Global Government. "Less traffic is certainly more convenient for citizens, but it is also a key factor in how cities improve economic competitiveness by fostering greater access to goods, increasing business investments and expanding the ability for communities to develop highly-skilled workforces."

IBM is actively working in the area of ‘intelligent transportation’ using a team of 150 scientists and a group of IT services professionals to research, test and deploy new traffic information management capabilities in cities such as Brisbane, London, Singapore and Stockholm. 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.

IBM’s Institute for Electronic Government has compiled the survey findings into a report, which also details how the Commuter Pain Index was determined. It is available by clicking here.

Founded in 1996, IBM's Institute for Electronic Government is a research organization based in Washington, DC that focuses on timely government topics, specifically those related to technology in the context of benefits to citizens, the economy and society.

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IBM looked at the harsh reality of the daily commute – including start-stop traffic, anger issues, the effect on job performance and other factors – and compiled the results into an Index that shows the relative “commuting pain” from city to city.

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