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Wellington drivers have New Zealand’s “least painful commute,” says survey

Press Release – Pursuit PR
Wellington drivers have the “least painful commute” of New Zealand’s three biggest cities, according to an IBM survey. The survey of over 900 commuters across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch looked at differences in metropolitan commuting patterns and the effects that roadway traffic and work, university and school performance have on a person’s health and lifestyle.

The study showed that the reliance on cars for the daily commute severely impacted on health and stress levels. 80 percent of drivers find aspects of their commute frustrating. Stop start traffic (51 per cent), aggressive/rude drivers (30 per cent), low speed (27 per cent) and unreliable journey time (19 per cent) all contribute to driver frustration.

As many as a quarter of drivers surveyed believe that traffic has negatively affected their health. This was highest among drivers in Auckland (30 per cent) and lowest in Wellington (13 per cent). The findings reveal that commuter stress is impacting the health and productivity of New Zealanders at work.

The IBM “New Zealand Commuter Pain” study shows that New Zealanders are heavily dependent on the private car as a means of commuting. The use of private cars for commuting in New Zealand cities is higher relative to other international cities according to the findings.

Driving a car alone is the main mode of transportation by which 70 per cent of New Zealanders commute to and from work, university or school, amongst the highest in the world. The rising dependency on cars is driving a growing number of problems, including traffic congestion, pollution, higher fuel prices and increased driver stress.

Across all New Zealand cities drivers felt that much of the stress could be reduced by the greater use of technology in the management of traffic flows, sophisticated analytics of transport systems and the adoption of more flexibility in the way we approach work.

Those commuters surveyed recognise that there is significant potential to reduce travel stress by improving public transportation (45 per cent), providing accurate and timely road conditions information (28 per cent) and introducing greater flexibility to work from home (29 per cent). Compared to other international cities, the figures for New Zealand cities are relatively high for all of these technological solutions.

In many European and American cities around 40 per cent of commuters or more would spend at least one day a week working from home. In New Zealand this trend is much lower with only 21 per cent of those employed full-time are working from home at least one day per week.

“These findings reveal that previous traditional solutions to traffic congestion such as widening existing roads or building new ones will no longer be enough to fix this transport congestion. Instead we need more sustainable, technologically smarter solutions. We should look to focus on introducing technology that allows for traffic problems to be predicted and analysed in real-time to help solve commuter pain and ease congestion of our transport networks, ” said Dougal Watt, Chief Technology Officer, IBM New Zealand.

*IBM Commuter Pain Index *IBM compiled the results of the survey into an Index that ranks the emotional and economic toll of commuting in each city on a scale of one to 100, with 100 being the most onerous. The Index reveals a tremendous disparity in the pain of the daily commute from city to city. Globally, Stockholm had the least painful commute of the cities studied, followed by Wellington, Melbourne and Houston (which all tied). Here’s how the cities stack up:

*The index is comprised of 10 issues: 1) commuting time, 2) time stuck in traffic, agreement that: 3) price of gas is already too high, 4) traffic has gotten worse, 5) start-stop traffic is a problem, 6) driving causes stress, 7) driving causes anger, 8) traffic affects work, 9) traffic so bad driving stopped, and 10) decided not to make trip due to traffic. *

Additional key findings from the study include:

– Among those who believe that traffic has negatively affected their health, increased stress (77 per cent) and anger (41 per cent) are the primary symptoms. – As many as 28 per cent of drivers believe that traffic has negatively affected their performance at work, university or school. – In the last three years, 24 per cent of drivers have found that roadway traffic has been so bad that they turned around and went home due to chronic traffic congestion conditions. – Many commuters feel that if their daily commute was reduced there are many other things they would do with their time including exercise (51 per cent), spend time with family (48 per cent) or sleep (30 per cent).

An added stress on drivers in New Zealand was the increasing cost of petrol. As many as 31 per cent of those who use a car to get to work, university or school state that if petrol prices rise up to 30 per cent they will seriously consider other options like public transportation or carpooling. Currently, only 10 per cent of New Zealanders carpool regularly. If alternative transport solutions are not found New Zealand may not be able to keep up with International counterparts.

*IBM New Zealand Commuter Pain Survey – Major Findings *Analysis of the survey results indicated a number of key findings related to how traffic impacts commuters: *

Auckland*

§ The main mode of transport for commuting is the private car for 74 per cent of those in Auckland.

– 47 per cent of Auckland drivers have been stuck in traffic for one hour or more in the last 3 years. – As many as 75 per cent of drivers experience travel stress, with Auckland drivers (80 per cent) more likely to feel stressed. – Greatest interest for improved public transport may be observed among Auckland drivers (51 per cent). – As many as 25 per cent of drivers believe that traffic has negatively affected their health. This is highest among drivers in Auckland (30 per cent) and lowest in Christchurch (18 per cent) and Wellington (13 per cent). – As many as 28 per cent of drivers believe that traffic has negatively affected their performance at work, university or school. This is higher in Auckland (33 per cent) than other New Zealand cities. – In the last three years, 27 per cent of Auckland drivers have found that roadway traffic has been so bad that they turned around and went home.

*Wellington*

§ Wellington residents have a relatively short commute at 25 minutes.

§ The main mode of transport is the private car for 50 per cent of those in Wellington

§ Driving on highways/ expressways is common (51 per cent), especially in Wellington (55 per cent). Driving on downtown city streets is also more popular in Wellington (54 per cent).

§ In Wellington, bus (15 per cent), walking (10 per cent) and the train (9 per cent) are also popular means of commuting.

§ Just 26 per cent of Wellington commuters have noticed deterioration in roadway traffic over the past 3 years.

§ Only 20 per cent of those in Wellington ever work from home. In many European and American cities around 40 per cent of commuters or more would spend at least one day a week working from home.

*Christchurch*

§ The main mode of transport for commuting is the private car for 76 per cent of Christchurch commuters.

§ Driving a car alone is the main mode of transportation by which most commute to and from work, university or school (76 per cent).

§ Driving on downtown city streets is more popular in Christchurch (49 per cent).

§ Commuters in Christchurch have one of the shortest commutes of any international city. The average commute in Christchurch takes 22 minutes.

§ Drivers in Christchurch (49 per cent) are also more likely to feel that roadway traffic has become worse. Only 9 per cent of Christchurch drivers have noticed an improvement in roadway traffic over the past 3 years.

§ Christchurch drivers (27 per cent) have the least interest for improved public transport.

*IBM Commuter Pain Study* The study conducted by Galaxy research surveyed adult drivers aged 18-64 years and included 937 respondents distributed throughout Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch during October 2010.

IBM is actively working in the area of Smarter Transportation using a worldwide team of scientists, industry experts and IT services professionals to research, test and deploy new traffic information management capabilities in cities around the world. Findings from the Commuter Pain Survey will be used to assess citizen concerns about traffic and commuter issues; expand solutions like automated tolling, real-time traffic prediction, congestion charging, and intelligent route planning; and serve as a basis for pioneering innovative new approaches to traffic mitigation.

For more information about IBM’s first global Commuter Pain survey, please visit http://www.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/32017.wss* * *About IBM: *For more information about IBM, please visit www.ibm.com/think

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