Traffic Jams Costing Billions a Year

October 2, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Cars stuck in a traffic jam on January 3, 2009, on the A9 highway in Neufahrn near Munich, southern Germany. (Joerg Koch/AFP/Getty Images )
Cars stuck in a traffic jam on January 3, 2009, on the A9 highway in Neufahrn near Munich, southern Germany. (Joerg Koch/AFP/Getty Images )
Tackling traffic jams has become a top priority for city municipalities around the world, and with 70 percent of the world's population expected to live in cities by 2050, it is only going to get worse, said a report.

The IBM research was presented at the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Conference in Stockholm at the end of September.

The first year in history where the majority of the world's population lived in cities was 2008, according to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations.

Every year traffic jams cost the U.S. transportation system about $200 billion. In the EU there are around 300 million drivers who push the costs for handling traffic congestion up to one percent of the EU's GDP, or $146 billion (100 billion euro).

The new study, “Intelligent Transport: How Cities Can Improve Mobility” was conducted in 57 cities around the world and evaluated their transport systems using a range of economic indicators.

Senior transport officials in Australia, Chile, China, Egypt, Italy, India, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom all agreed on the urgent need of huge infrastructure investments, but at the same time stressed the importance of better management of and deploying technology-based ITS.

To help cities cope with congestion challenges, IBM suggests solutions centered around advanced thinking, strategic planning, and integrated execution.

The Stockholm Case

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, was singled out in the research as an example of progressive implementation of transportation practices. Aiming to become the world’s most easily accessible capital, Stockholm implemented a congestion tax which led to a 25 percent reduction of car use downtown and a significant decrease in traffic-incurred harmful gas emissions.

The tax implementation is a part of a comprehensive transport plan with intensive bus services and an integrated ticketing system which connects major transport modes.

The report, Intelligent Transport, can be read here: http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/bus/html/gbs-intelligent-transport-mobility.html.