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BENGALURU: Road traffic congestion in India's four biggest cities--Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and Pune--have crawled back to pre-pandemic levels after almost a year of lockdown-induced decline, according to a report by TomTom, an Amsterdam-headquartered independent location technology specialist.

Traffic congestion in Mumbai stood at 64% in January, went down to 0% in April--at the peak of lockdown--and is now at 59%, according to the report.

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Likewise, Bengaluru, which was ranked the number one city globally for traffic congestion in 2019, saw traffic slump from 70% in January to 6% in April and rise back to around 48% in December, according to the report.

Bengaluru was one of the first cities to impose lockdown but was also the first to lift curbs to allow economic activity to resume.

Despite the drop in congestion level, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Delhi were second, sixth and eight respectively of 416 cities globally.

Mumbai had 133 days of the 365 days with low traffic while Bengaluru had 147 days, the report shows.

“Last year, we announced that both global and India congestion levels in 2019 had increased for the ninth consecutive Traffic Index. In 2020, we saw a vastly different picture. From lockdowns to closed borders, people movement changed – and it changed very fast," Werner van Huyssteen, General Manager, India, TomTom, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Adoption of work from home policies by large employers, TomTom says, contributed to fall in traffic congestion.

TomTom, however, says the trends are unlikely to continue "unless there’s a concerted and deliberate change in driver behaviour, supported by policy makers and, importantly, employers."

Reduced traffic congestion during rush hours in all four Indian cities, TomTom says, is encouraging and testimony to the fact that flexible work hours lead to lesser traffic.

“Although traffic congestion in India was down in 2020, it’s not going to become a trend unless we take action. We might even see traffic levels shoot up again as people get back to work and back into old routines. That’s why now is the time that India’s city planners, policy makers, employers – and drivers – must take stock of what they will do to make the roads less congested in the future," Werner added.

Globally, 13 of 416 cities saw an increase in traffic congestion.

TomTom’s traffic data is derived using over 600 million connected devices.

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