Is Luton the worst traffic town in the UK?

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Luton could be the worst town for traffic congestion in the UK, according to grim new statistics.

On Monday, INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard published its traffic figures, monitoring the impact of congestion on 1,064 towns/cities across the world in a study claimed to be the biggest of its kind.

It found the UK was the world’s fourth worst congested developed country and the third worst in Europe.

Luton was ranked alongside Guildford as the UK’s worst congested town, with drivers spending an average of 29 hours each year stuck in traffic.

The study found that Luton drivers spend an average 10.7% of their time stuck in traffic, costing them £964 each year as a direct result.

And the overall impact to Luton’s local economy was estimated to be £72m.

Only five of the UK’s biggest cities – London, Manchester, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Edinburgh – were found to be worse than Luton for congestion.

“Despite Brexit, 2016 saw the UK economy remaining stable, fuel prices staying low and employment growing to an 11-year high, all of which incentivizes road travel and helped increase congestion as the 2016 Traffic Scorecard demonstrates,” said Graham Cookson, chief economist at INRIX.

“The cost of this congestion is staggering, stripping the economy of billions, impacting businesses and costing consumers dearly.

“To tackle this problem, we must consider bold options such as remote working, wider use of road user charging and investment in big data to create more effective and intelligent transportation systems.”

A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “Luton has challenges in transporting the workforce at peak times and has already made significant improvements in recent years. The Luton Dunstable busway now takes 2.8 million passengers a year, the recently built inner ring road has significantly reduced congestion in the centre of the town and last summer saw the continuation of a rigorous programme of roadworks around the increasingly busy airport, including £30m improvements to M1 J10a.

“Plans have just been submitted for a mass passenger transit link from Luton Parkway rail station to the airport which is expected to significantly reduce the number of travellers using the roads.

“With the advancement of our exciting £1.5bn investment framework for the town we are acutely aware of the need to match our ambitions with an effective highways infrastructure. We constantly monitor road usage and have plans to introduce new sophisticated traffic optimisation monitoring systems across the town.

“We are confident this will contribute towards reducing travel times within Luton and help deliver the town’s future plans.”