Industries in Depth

The countries with the worst traffic congestion - and ways to reduce it

Cars and public buses are seen in a traffic jam along a main street ahead of local elections in Bogota, October 20, 2015. The local elections in Colombia will be held on Sunday October 25 amid outrage over chaotic transport, increased insecurity, dirty streets and corruption in the capital. Picture taken on October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jose Miguel Gomez - GF20000028265

Bogota ranks as the most congested city in the world. Image: REUTERS/Jose Miguel Gomez - GF20000028265

Dan Kopf
Reporter, Quartz
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Industries in Depth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Brazil is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


  • These are the cities with the highest level of congestion, with Bogota in Colombia ranking at number one.
  • The reasons for congestion include poor public transportation, geography and more people driving cars.
  • In Bogota, the average person loses 191 hours a year due to traffic.

In the world’s biggest cities, the demand to drive far outstrips the supply of roads. As a result, commuters in major metropolitan areas face massive congestion.

Traffic analytics company Inrix puts out annual data on which cities in the world have the most congestion. In 2019, the two cities that topped the list were Bogota, Colombia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the average person losing 191 hours and 190 hours to traffic each year, respectively. Inrix’s data comes from millions of GPS-enabled devices in cars—data that is then used to power a number of navigation softwares, including Google Waze.

Global cities with the highest traffic congestion for commuters:

Global cities with the highest traffic congestion for commuters.
In Bogota, commuters lose 191 hours a year to congestion. Image: Quartz
Have you read?

High congestion can be due to a variety of factors. Bogota’s traffic is largely a result of weak public transportation options. The congestion in Rio de Janeiro is partly caused by its mountainous geography, funneling cars to a small number of throughways. Also, the number of cars in these cities is steadily rising—as in other mega-traffic cities like Mexico City, Sao Paolo, and Jakarta. Population increases and economic growth have led to more middle-class families that can afford a car.

There is hope for high traffic cities. Inrix’s data suggests cities can quickly reduce traffic by aggressively charging for use of roads or expanding public transportation infrastructure. From 2017 to 2019, average time in congestion in London fell by 13%. That decline is likely the result of a doubling of the congestion charge to enter London’s center for older, high-emissions cars.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How these 5 steel producers are taking action to decarbonize steel production

Mandy Chan and Daniel Boero Vargas

June 25, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum