Journal: Of course the traffic is worse, but the recently completed A7 motorway is not really the culprit. The resident population is 22% larger and there are 45% more crossborder workers than there were ten years ago.
Frustrating though the lengthening jams are, the waits are longer in other countries. Apparently commuters wasted 34 hours per year on average driving in this country in 2014, according to the Urban Mobility Scorecard, calculated by the IT firm Inrix. Also, delays were three times worse than in 2013. But residents of other metropolitan areas suffer much more: London is top with 96 hours wasted in congestion, Brussels is second with 74 and Cologne third with 65. Our capital is less bunged up than 24th placed Frankfurt, with its 37 hours of average delays.
But these average figures hide some individual tales of transport woe. The road links southwards are taken by most of the 87,000 French frontaliers and many of the 43,000 Belgian resident commuters. Monica O’Hara has been living just over the border in France and working on the Kirchberg for more than 20 years. “It used to take me only 40 minutes, but now it is at least 50 and often as much as 90 in bad weather or if there’s an accident,” she said. So if this 10 minute increase per day can be counted as “wasted”, with ten hours with very long delays, the total approaches 48 hours per year.
It is getting tougher coming from the east too. “Since the Northern Road has opened in September, there is obviously more traffic joining the queue to the roundabout” in Kirchberg, pointed out Helen Barker, who has lived to the east of the capital for over ten years. She said that outside rush hour the journey between home and work takes a quarter of an hour, but at peak times “it can take anything from 30 minutes to an hour.”
The Serra roundabout is a major pinch point, and things only improved marginally since it was made into three lanes and traffic lights added. “The main problem is cars and buses keep changing lanes,” Barker commented. “The most frustrating thing is that I take the right-hand lane which goes around the back of Luxexpo and does not go to the roundabout, but this lane is usually blocked by cars wanting to switch lanes at the last minute to get on the roundabout.”
Drivers coming from the north are finding things generally easier, but then the Serra roundabout is also a bottleneck for them too.
“Our travelling time in the morning rush hours decreased from 35-40 minutes to 25-30 minutes,” said Tomasz Kapera about his family’s daily trip from home in the Alzette Valley to school and work on the Kirchberg. So there is something in the joke that the Nordstroos is just getting people to the traffic jams more quickly. “It takes 10 minutes to get to the Kirchberg, but then 15-20 minutes to go around the roundabout,” he added.
Earlier this week the infrastructure ministry said via Twitter: “Works at the roundabout are ongoing for 2-3 months; further lanes plus bypass will help”.
Similarly, the drive from places not particularly near the motorway to the north west of town (such as Bridel, Kopstal and Kehlen) has become less time consuming. “For me, the Nordstroos has had a positive impact and has shaved at least 10-15 minutes off my journey that was taking 50 minutes and sometimes more,” remarked Ben Lyon.
Parking is also a concern. Office complexes are only permitted to have places for around one-third of staff, a rule designed to encourage people to take public transports. But here too there is more congestion. One example is the 15% increase in passenger numbers on CFL trains in the five years to 2014. Clearly Luxembourg’s job-creating genius has its downsides.