THe Blog

February 11, 2020

Mumbai: Slow Commuting, Low Productivity

IDFC Institute's new working paper unearths the extent of Mumbai's congestion, quantifies its economic and environmental costs and provides actionable results for policymakers by identifying chokepoints.


We analysed more than half a billion Uber Movement data points in our novel approach, showing that long commutes are eradicating the economic productivity of India's financial capital. Our new methodology quantifies these costs and can be replicated for cities across India and the world.


On average, a 30-minute trip in free-flowing traffic takes around 66 minutes in peak-hour traffic in Mumbai.


In fact, the average Mumbai commuter wastes 11 days a year stuck in traffic.


Congestion has reduced ease of mobility in Mumbai, resulting in inefficient labour markets and severe economic and environmental consequences.


High congestion costs fragment the labour market. Those living in the northern suburb of Borivali may end up spending an additional INR 350 per daily commute if they take up a job in midtown Lower Parel. This may dissuade them from the job even though their skills may match it.


Figure 1


The average commute on Mumbai’s major routes is longer than an hour, more than double the averages of Singapore, Hong Kong and New York. Moderate traffic in Mumbai is a chokepoint in Hong Kong.


The additional fuel cost due to congestion is estimated to be as high as INR 265.


Figure 2


In Mumbai, air pollution is driven by congestion more than distance.


Congestion also has high environmental costs—in what is already one of the world’s most polluted cities. Our study assigns monetary values to additional carbon dioxide emissions from petrol- and diesel-fueled vehicles. A 14km trip between Borivali and Andheri East costs INR 22 in terms of emissions whereas a 27km trip between Marine Drive and Andheri East costs INR 6.


Figure 3


We identify chokepoints and how they evolve over time.


Our study also identifies chokepoints, that is, segments along the city's major routes that have very low travel speeds. Check out our interactive to see it yourself:


Image 1: The Interactive Web Tool


We often find that areas that were not bottlenecks in 2016 developed into one by 2018. These are the ones that need to be tackled first.


To that end, eradicating chokepoints is a key step in improving ease of movement. One possible way policymakers can achieve this is by conducting pilots of the Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS) at these bottlenecks.


Our methodology is replicable using publicly available data to gauge the world’s congestion problems—and ultimately get moving. 

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