Now here’s a thing.
Last week there was a press release and subsequent coverage in NZ newspapers (maybe on tele too but I don’t know cos I don’t have one) about a study and its results. Named the ‘Commuter Pain Study’ – that in itself should give you an idea of the contents and import of this piece of research – surveying 8,192 motorists in 20 cities on six continents. Apart from telling us what we probably already knew it has gone a step further and ranked international cities according to an ‘index’. In NZ the survey covered 937 respondents aged 18-64 years distributed between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The main points for Aotearoa that the study concluded with were:
– Almost three-quarters of NZ commuters use a car alone to get to work
– Resulting traffic congestion causing significant stress impacting health and productivity
– Increasing public transportation key to reducing stress caused by commuting
When it came to other solutions the study also had some facts:
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).
Now, the study which was commissioned by IBM and is more properly known as the IBM Global Commuter Pain Study also went as far as to say in the media release:
across all New Zealand cities drivers felt that much of this stress could be reduced by the greater use of technology in the management of traffic flows, sophisticated analytics of transport systems…
They don’t offer any actual data on how many or how they reached this conclusion and it didn’t seem to be in the survey index but I wonder if IBM have one or two ideas that might help? But that’s another story…
Vested interests aside, it seems that the survey revealed some telling information about NZers dependence on private cars for commuting. According to the study, 80 percent of drivers find aspects of their commute frustrating. At least a quarter of respondents believe that traffic has negatively affected their health although this number varied regionally.
In the article based on this media release published by The Press (Christchurch) they immediately went out to get some vox pops on the findings. Even though Christchurch has a public transport system that I would rate as very good several ‘people on the street’ described the buses as ‘just gross’ or unsatisfactory in a number of ways, therefore they continued to use their car to commute. Apparently sitting in traffic literally idling money away, pumping poisonous gases into the air, and ‘negatively affecting their health’ by being a solo occupant of a motor car is preferable.
I feel like pointing out to those ‘buses are gross’ people that by commuting on the bus I not only save money, but I don’t have to find parking, I get to read or talk to friends, or do this, or experience this.
The study pointed out that only 10 per cent of NZers car-pool regularly. Bizarre – if we doubled that we’d significantly reduce the cars on the road during the commute rush hours as well as halve (or better) our individual fuel and parking costs. Auckland’s traffic problems would be majorly improved overnight. And almost everyone’s wellbeing could be improved.
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.
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).
All that stress and anger and lost productivity – when you’d rather be exercising (playing), spending time with family & whanau (playing) or ‘sleeping’ (playing). And it’s self-inflicted.
You poor things.