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India: Top 10 Cities Worst Hit by Traffic

Recently, someone we know moved from Hyderabad to Gurgaon. Within the first few weeks, they noticed that the traffic in Gurgaon was markedly worse. In fact they claimed "This is probably the worst traffic in the country..." We decided to test this claim.

We used data from the website Numbeo.com which aggregates and synthesizes large amounts of data around the world about Cost of Living, Crime, Pollution etc. We used 2 Indices- Time Index and Overall Traffic Index. The Time Index is nothing but the average time per trip in a city and the Overall Traffic Index is calculated using several factors such as time per trip, estimation of dissatisfaction due to commute times (every minute beyond 25 minutes exponentially adds to the dissatisfaction), inefficiencies in traffic, and CO2 emissions.

As you can see from the chart, Kolkata emerged as the city with the worst traffic. Even when you look at the Overall Traffic Index based ranking (you can click on the filter box in the chart to switch between Time Index and Overall Traffic Index), the rank remains the same for all cities. Surprisingly, Mumbai comes next. Popular perception seems to be that Mumbai has figured out how to tame its unruly traffic with a mix of new infrastructure projects and enforcement. We also thought, however overcrowded, a vast majority of the city's commuters use the public transport system. It will be interesting to specifically analyze the latter with some reliable data. Gurgaon, although probably the smallest city in the top 10 list, does make to the No. 3 spot! So it is not an exaggeration to say that it has amongst the worst traffic issues in the country.

Although Bangalore traffic looms large in social media feeds, it comes in at No. 5. Bangalore netizens probably are more vocal than other citizens about their traffic woes. At an average trip time of 49 minutes you can see why. Due to a huge influx of technology professionals in the last decade and the concentration of the tech employers in a relatively small part of the city, Pune too has suffered from traffic jams and takes the No. 6 spot.

Long story short, the commute times in all the top 10 cities are horrendous. In fact, if you look at major cities in the world, Kolkata and Mumbai take the No. 1 and No. 3 spots respectively. Gurgaon is at No. 10 worldwide! Bad traffic adversely affects the quality of life, leads to road rage, and even accidents and fatalities. India needs innovative ways to combat traffic congestion. Otherwise, the rapidly increasing rate of car ownership amongst India's middle class will make everybody worse off.