Thu. Jul 18th, 2019

Cape Town vs Johannesburg vs Pretoria vs Durban: When is traffic at its worst?

Traffic Cape Town Pretoria JohannesburgSouth Africa’s cities all have good times and bad times to be on the roads – we’ve got the traffic data for Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban.

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Our four biggest cities have been analysed by a recent survey released by TomTom, which reveals when the traffic is at its worst in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban. We’re not just talking about the time of day, either – we even find out what the worst day on the calendar is for drivers in each metropolitan area, too.

Driving in South Africa: Traffic in Cape Town and Johannesburg

Cape Town retains its status as the most congested city in South Africa, reluctantly taking the accolade as traffic volumes increase. With more people coming into the city and less being done about road infrastructure, the commute to the Mother City is the worst of the lot and comes 90th on a global scale.

Then we’ve got Johannesburg, slinking into 105th place and keep a safe distance from its rival in the south-west. According to the survey, it’s congestion levels are on par with vibrant hubs of activity like Milan and Miami. Although, the scenery is a little different in Gauteng.

Best of the rest

There’s a big drop to Pretoria in 182nd, enjoying a relatively chaos-free road system. The commutes are so chilled there, people in wheelchairs have started using the slow-lanes. Durban takes the cake, however, dropping in 308th on the 403-city survey. Their 10% congestion figures on major highways are amongst the lowest in the world.

Despite Cape Town topping the domestic pile, the vibrant metropolis still has some way to go before it can compete with the worst offenders on the list. Mumbai, India is the most congested city in the world, with traffic jams reported on the roads 65% of the time.

Most congested cities in the world

Bogata, Colombia and Lima, Peru make up the top three. Another Indian city – New Delhi – comes in fourth, whereas the capital of Russia completes the top five: Moscow has a congestion rate of 56%.

  1. Mumbai, India
  2. Bogota, Colombia
  3. Lima, Peru
  4. New Delhi, India
  5. Moscow, Russia
  6. Istanbul, Turkey
  7. Jakarta, Indonesia
  8. Bangkok, Thailand
  9. Mexico City, Mexico
  10. Recife, Brazil

When traffic is at its worst in South Africa

But, back to matters that are distinctly South African. We’re taking six of our biggest cities and charting the worst hours and days commuters must avoid if they want traffic-free journeys.

There are a few interesting quirks – rush hour is almost always at its worst between 7:00 – 8:00 on Monday, whereas the drive home can be a nightmare earlier or later in the afternoon, depending on where you are. Christmas and New Year’s Day are when the roads are at their most deserted, but 22 March is flagged as an awful day for traffic.

City Congestion
level %
Worst time of
day to travel
Best and worst
dates to travel
Cape Town 31% Monday, 7:00 – 8:00
Thursday, 16:00 – 18:00
Best: 24 June
Worst: 23 April
Joburg 30% Monday, 7:00 – 8:00
Mon-Thu, 17:00 – 18:00
Best: 1 Jan
Worst: 22 Mar
Pretoria 25% Monday, 7:00 – 8:00
Mon-Thu, 17:00 – 18:00
Best: 1 Jan
Worst: 22 Mar
East London 20% Monday, 7:00 – 8:00
Friday, 16:00 – 18:00
Best: 14 Oct
Worst: 14 Dec
Durban 18% Monday, 7:00 – 9:00
Thursday, 16:00 – 18:00
Best: 25 Dec
Worst: 22 Mar
Bloemfontein 12% Mon-Thu, 7:00 – 9:00 Best: 26 Dec
Worst: 6 Feb

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