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Top Ten Cities With the World's Worst Traffic


In this Sept. 24, 2010 photo, motorists are stuck in traffic jam during an evening rush hour at the main business district in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

In this Sept. 24, 2010 photo, motorists are stuck in traffic jam during an evening rush hour at the main business district in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)


When you think about it, life is a series of ongoing, connecting trips.

Many of us start the day by commuting, or traveling, to work. We drop off our children at school. We may visit the doctor or go to the market to buy food. We rush home to see our families.

Life is more pleasant when these trips are easy and direct. The easier commuting, the higher your quality of life is.

Being stuck in traffic is not easy or direct. Traffic delays can be stressful. They bring out the worst in some people. Traffic delays also reduce your quality of life. And some areas are worse than others. Three of the ten worst cities for traffic are in Southeast Asia.

People who live in big cities spend a lot of time talking about traffic. Too many people on the roads can be a big problem.

Not all traffic is the same. There are some terms you need to know when talking about traffic.

Gridlock traffic is pictured on highway 395 as people evacuate Washington after an earthquake August 23, 2011.

Gridlock traffic is pictured on highway 395 as people evacuate Washington after an earthquake August 23, 2011.

One such term is gridlock. Gridlock is when nobody can go anywhere. The roads become one big parking lot.

There is also stop-and-start traffic. This is when you move forward a little, but then stop. Move a little. Then stop. Both are equally stressful.

Traffic can be bumper-to-bumper. This means there are so many cars on the road that their bumpers seem to be touching. To idle means the engine of your car is running, but you are not moving … anywhere.

Another term to know is rush hour traffic. Rush hour traffic happens at about the same time every day – when people are commuting to and from work.

But who in the world has the worst traffic?

In 2014, the Castrol Magnatec Stop-Start Index examined traffic conditions in 78 cities around the world. Drivers in these areas used TomTom GPS devices. Each device measured the time spent in traffic and the traffic conditions they experienced.

Castrol is an oil company based in the United Kingdom. The company says all this stop-start driving and idling hurts your car engine. And to help, it wants to sell you Castrol products.

The study found an increase in both heavy traffic and stop-and-start driving.

Here are the results.

The top 10 cities with the worst traffic are:

10. Buenos Aires, Argentina

  1. Guadalajara, Mexico
  1. Bangkok, Thailand
  1. Rome, Italy
  1. Moscow, Russia
  1. St. Petersburg, Russia
  1. Surabaya, Indonesia
  1. Mexico City, Mexico
  1. Istanbul, Turkey

And coming in at number one with the worst traffic on the planet is …

  1. Jakarta, Indonesia
Motorists come out from their vehicle to check as the traffic stand still at a city road in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011.

Motorists come out from their vehicle to check as the traffic stand still at a city road in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011.

In China, Shanghai’s traffic problems were found to be worse than Beijing’s. Drivers in Shanghai spend 33 percent of their time on the road idling. People in Beijing spend 27 percent of their travel time idling, doing nothing but running their engines and wasting fuel.

So, what can cities do to reduce traffic problems?

One thing cities can do is to supply more public transportation.

People who take public transportation, like these commuters on the New York City subway, are able to relax, read and avoid traffic. (FILE PHOTO/October 2008)

People who take public transportation, like these commuters on the New York City subway, are able to relax, read and avoid traffic. (FILE PHOTO/October 2008)

Let us now take a closer look at the city with the worst traffic in the world – Jakarta. Jakarta’s metropolitan area is home to about 24 million people. But only 13 percent of all trips are on public transportation.

Investment in public transport in the Indonesian capital began in 2004. Workers are building the first part of a public transport system, known as the Mass Rapid Transit railway.

Another thing cities can do to limit traffic is to charge money to drive in certain parts of a city. Next year, Jakarta plans to start charging drivers more to travel on two heavily congested roads.

Jakarta officials have also banned motorcycles from the main roads in the city.

Until cities with traffic problems find ways to get people from Point A to Point B more efficiently, they can only envy people in Tampere, Finland and Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. The survey found that these two cities have the fastest moving traffic.

I’m Anna Matteo.

Are you living with terrible traffic? How much time does it take you to commute to work? How is your city helping to lessen traffic congestion? And if you are lucky enough to live in a part of world without any traffic, you can brag about it … in the comments sections.

This report was based on a story from VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok. Anna Matteo wrote it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

commute v. to travel regularly to and from a place and especially between where you live and where you work

rush v. to move or do something very quickly or in a way that shows you are in a hurry

congested/congestion adj. when talking about traffic, too many cars on the road

gridlock n. a situation in which streets are so full that vehicles cannot

parking lot n. an area outside a building for parking cars, trucks, etc.

bumper-to-bumper adj. made up of long lines of cars that are very close together

idle v. of an engine or vehicle : to run without being connected for doing useful work

rush hourn. a time during the day early in the morning or late in the afternoon when many people are traveling on roads to get to work or to get home from work

envy v. to feel a desire to have what someone else has ; n. the feeling of wanting to have what someone else has

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