What's the most congested city in the world?

Traffic congestion around the world has risen by 13 percent since 2008, according to mapping and traffic service TomTom. Which city is most affected by a commuting slog?

Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters/File
Traffic moves on the arrival level of Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California (November 21, 2012).

Traffic congestion wreaks havoc on productivity, the environment, and, of course, travelers. Last year, mapping and traffic service TomTom revealed that commuters were wasting an average of 100 hours each year stuck in traffic--and that's to say nothing of the folks simply running errands or travelers on road trips.

Now, TomTom has compiled another year of data for its annual Traffic Index. Using 2015 info from individual drivers, traffic monitoring systems, and other resources, TomTom has calculated travel times on individual roads and throughout entire metro areas. The 2015 Traffic Index analyzed congestion in 295 cities spread across 38 countries on six continents.

Since 2008, TomTom says that traffic congestion around the globe has risen by 13 percent. That upward trend isn't especially surprising, because in 2008, the world's financial markets were in a tailspin, which led to massive job losses and thus, fewer commuters. 

However, traffic in some regions has worsened more quickly than others due to the uneven pace of economic recovery. In North America, for example, congestion has risen 17 percent in the past eight years, but in Europe, it's only ticked up two percent. That's likely because some European nations were especially hard hit by the recession; in Spain, for example, where unemployment currently hovers above 20 percent, congestion has actually fallen by 13 percent since 2008.

Last year, TomTom's most congested city on Planet Earth was Istanbul, Turkey, followed by Mexico City, Mexico and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The only U.S. city to make the top ten was Los Angeles, California scraping in at number ten.

This year, the rankings have shifted a bit, with Istanbul dropping to third place and Mexico City taking the dubious honor of being the most-congested city in the world. There, it takes drivers 59 percent more time to travel from Point A to Point B, and if they're trying to do so during the evening rush hour, their wait could be 103 percent longer. All told, Mexico City residents waste 219 hours on additional travel time each year.

TomTom's 2015 top-ten list of congested cities includes:  

1. Mexico City, Mexico
3. Istanbul, Turkey
4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
5. Moscow Russia
6.  Bucharest, Romania
7. Salvador, Brazil
8. Recife, Brazil
9. Chengdu, China
10. Los Angeles, United States

In the U.S., the ten worst cities for drivers were all familiar faces from 2014, slightly re-shuffled: 

1. Los Angeles
4. Seattle
5. San Jose
8. Washington, D.C.
9. Portland

For a global overview of congested urban areas, visit the 2015 TomTom Traffic Index page. Statistics fans can tap the "full ranking" tab to view country-by-country breakdowns.

This article first appeared at The Car Connection.

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