Manila is the second-most congested city in the world, but we were this close to coming in first, according to new findings from a Netherlands-based location technology company. (We may have even taken the top spot if it weren’t for Catholicism — more on that later.)
TomTom’s 2019 traffic index, released yesterday, put the Philippine capital’s traffic woes just behind India’s Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore), although both cities had a congestion level of 71 percent. According to the study, this means an average trip in Manila will take 71 percent more time than it would during “baseline uncongested conditions,” or under minimal road traffic.
The research notes that an average motorist loses 257 hours — that’s almost 11 days — in Manila’s rush hour per year. The index helpfully notes that, in that amount of time, you could have watched 227 episodes of Game of Thrones, planted 258 trees, completed 52 500-piece jigsaw puzzles, or watched 129 basketball games.
The report also noted that the best time to avoid driving is between 6pm to 7pm on Fridays, when the evening rush in Manila is at its worst, with a congestion level of 128 percent. By waiting until after 7pm to travel on Fridays, a person with a 30-minute commute could save up to five hours a year.
Interestingly, a close look at TomTom’s figures show that Manila’s traffic metrics, aside from our tied congestion rating of 71, were worse than front-runner Bengaluru’s in almost every way. While their morning rush was slightly worse, our evening rush blew theirs out of the water, as did our score for time lost during rush hour.
Our worst traffic day in 2019 — Aug. 16, a day when several malls held massive sales — was also worse than Bengaluru’s.
But Bengaluru beat us by a mile on its best traffic day, when it still clocked modest congestion. Manila’s best traffic day, on the other hand, miraculously had no traffic — literally: the TomTom congestion rating for the day was zero percent.
That day? April 19, a.k.a. Good Friday.
If we’d only been able to muster a little bit of transportation on a holy day of obligation, maybe we could have taken the top spot.
Just in case you were curious, the index of 416 cities — based on data taken from navigation devices, in-dash systems, and smartphones — found Greensboro-High Point in the U.S. and Cadiz, Spain to have the lowest traffic congestion levels at 9 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Four months ago, the Asian Development Bank proclaimed Manila’s traffic the worst out of 278 cities in Asia.
The Philippine government, however, has long been in denial about the capital’s traffic crisis, with presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo just a month ago claiming that a five-minute commute from Makati to Quezon City is still a “possibility.” The trip currently takes about an hour on a good day. (This is despite the fact that the spokesman experienced the hellish reality of a Manila commute for himself on a dare, and was forced to spend nearly four hours traveling from his home in Marikina to Malacañang Palace.)
This article, We’re not the worst? Manila is world’s second-most congested city, new traffic index finds, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!