Sao Paulo traffic jams can stretch over 100 miles

A massive traffic jam in China last year attracted a lot of attention but it sounds like Sao Paulo has this beat: how about traffic jams over 100 miles long?

This is the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the BBC reports that, in the city of 11 million, traffic jams average 112 miles long on Friday evenings. It can even stretch to 183 miles on particularly bad days. With so much time spent in cars, it’s inevitable that life events like meeting your future spouse occur there too.

IBM’s annual Commuter Pain Survey (which did not include Sao Paulo) awarded Mexico City the ‘most painful’ ranking:

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.

Mexico City scored the worst overall, and Sao Paulo’s traffic jams may cover the longest distance. The record for worst traffic jam ever, though, goes to China.

Any solutions to this problem? The BBC report has some ideas:

Professor Barbieri says Sao Paulo has skilled and experienced traffic engineers that somehow manage to get the city to flow, albeit slowly.

“But the big problem is that we Brazilians are terrible with planning and traffic will only become more manageable if we start looking into real long-term solutions.”

But he is also clear that a “more manageable traffic” environment is the best possible scenario that can be achieved.

“No city in the world will ever manage to end congestion because when traffic flows, people are drawn to their cars. The key is to find a balance, the point at which it is worthwhile for commuters to use public transport because it’s faster then driving,” he says.

“That way Sao Paulo needs urgently to invest more in public transport instead of building new roads and expressways that will only be filled up with more cars.”

While the article suggests the local helicopter industry is thriving, it sounds like an opportunity for an enterprising politician or leader to chart a new course.

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