Belfast has been named the UK's most congested city, raising questions about whether a major project to free up traffic flow is working.
A new survey by satnav company TomTom revealed that average travel times are just under a third (32%) longer than they would be if traffic were flowing freely.
Meanwhile, travel times in Belfast during morning rush hour are 88% longer than free flow, and evening rush hour times are 71% longer. The Tom Tom Traffic Index revealed that for every hour you drive in peak periods in Belfast, you face a 47-minute delay. And drivers who make a half-hour commute to work waste 101 hours every year idling in traffic jams.
"Belfast, Bristol and Edinburgh all top London when it comes to evening rush hour commuting. In Belfast an average morning commute travel time can be almost doubled by congestion," a TomTom spokesman said.
"With new bus lanes, commuters may have better options during peak periods."
Belfast, Brighton, London, Manchester, Leicester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle have all seen their congestion levels rise since this time last year – although this may, ironically, be a positive sign as congestion levels are thought to increase as economies recover from recession. TomTom also believes the rise in congestion could be linked to infrastructure projects in city centres, and increases in bus and cycle lanes.
However, roads commentator Wesley Johnson said most people find the relatively short journey times preferable to a longer commute in London or Glasgow.
"Most people would prefer a 20-minute commute at 20mph over a one hour commute at 50mph," he said.
A Department for Regional Development spokesman said: "The department is aware of the findings of the report and notes the comments of Tom Tom – that we are seeing a clear pattern which shows that congestion levels increase as economies emerge from recession."
Top 10 congested cities in UK
1 Belfast – congestion level 32%
2 Bristol – congestion level 31%
3 Brighton – congestion level 30%
4 Edinburgh – congestion level 29%
5 London – congestion level 29%
6 Leeds/Bradford – congestion level 26%
7 Manchester – congestion level 23%
8 Leicester – congestion level 22%
9 Sheffield – congestion level 22%
10 Liverpool – congestion level 21%