It has long been known that London is one of the most difficult cities in the world to drive around. Unfortunately, this has now been officially confirmed with a new study conducted by navigation firm TomTom. The research revealed that, in 2022, it took Londoners an average of 36 minutes and 20 seconds to travel just 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) in the centre of the capital – an increase of one minute and 50 seconds on the year before.
This was the longest journey time recorded across 389 cities in 56 countries. India’s Bengaluru had the second slowest time at 29 minutes and 10 seconds, followed by Dublin, Ireland (28 minutes and 30 seconds) and Sapporo, Japan (27 minutes and 40 seconds). Other UK cities in the top 50 included Manchester (24th place with 23 minutes and 10 seconds), Liverpool (32nd with 22 minutes and 20 seconds) and Edinburgh (42nd with 21 minutes and 30 seconds).
TomTom’s traffic expert Andy Marchant explained that people switching to road transport during rail strikes contributed to congestion in London last year. He said: “Due to the configuration of the road network in central London, travel times even without traffic are some of the highest in the world.”
While Marchant acknowledged that these findings do not necessarily mean London is the most congested city in the world, he said that it is clear there is a link between increasing congestion and the slowest average speed in the capital. He continued: “While strike action caused traffic congestion levels to soar, better traffic management based on real-time data intelligence is needed throughout the year to ensure viable traffic flows and the efficient use of city infrastructure.”
Londoners needed an average of 35 minutes to drive six miles (11 mph), while during rush hour, the average speed was only 9mph. London only narrowly missed out on being named the most expensive city to drive a car in based on the price of petrol, diesel and charging an electric vehicle (EV), and taking into account the impact of congestion on fuel consumption. Hong Kong was crowned number one, however London still came in a close second.
In a bid to reduce congestion, plans are expected to go ahead later this year to expand the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) to cover all of Greater London. This means hundreds of thousands more motorists will face a £12.50 daily charge to drive in the capital. Drivers must also pay a £15 daily charge if they wish to drive in the Congestion Charge Zone which covers much of Central London such as Waterloo, London Bridge and Liverpool Street areas, as well as Soho, Piccadilly Circus, South Bank and Mayfair.