Armonk, New York – Montreal is slightly worse than New York City for traffic congestion, commuter time and driving stress, while nearly half of Toronto commuters believe traffic congestion has harmed their health, according to a new “commuter pain” study by IBM.

The study polled more than 8,000 commuters in 20 cities worldwide, including Montreal and Toronto, to measure the physical and emotional toll of traffic congestion. Toronto tied with Moscow for second place among those who say traffic has worsened in the past three years, coming in behind Johannesburg.

Toronto also lags behind the global average in its share of commuters who work from home at least one day a week, and while the city’s “pain index” at 32 was higher than Montreal’s at 23, only seven per cent of Toronto drivers said they were stressed from driving, versus 27 per cent in Montreal.

The most painful commutes were in Beijing and Mexico City, while Stockholm rated the least painful. The congestion in many developing cities is a relatively recent issue, paralleling the rapid economic growth of those cities in the past decade or two, while cities such as New York, Los Angeles and London developed traffic gradually over many decades, allowing more time and resources to address the problem.

There were some bright spots: in Beijing, 48 per cent of drivers reported that traffic has improved in the past three years, the highest in the survey, while only 14 per cent of Stockholm drivers said that traffic affects work or school performance.

However, while 57 per cent of all respondents said that traffic has negatively affected their health, the percentage was 96 per cent in New Delhi, and 95 per cent in Beijing. While only 29 per cent said that traffic has affected work or school performance, the percentage rose to 84 per cent in Beijing, 62 per cent in New Delhi, and 56 per cent in Mexico City. Moscow had the longest traffic jams, with an average delay of two and a half hours for the worst jams.

On an index that ranked the emotional and economic toll of commuting on a scale of 100, with 100 being the worst, Beijing and Mexico City tied at 99. Toronto scored at 32, followed by Amsterdam and Los Angeles at 25, Berlin at 24, Montreal at 23, and New York City at 19.

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