Warsaw traffic

On the way home yesterday I managed a new record of 50 minutes to travel 12 km. That’s an average speed of 14 km/hr. A “normal” journey time is 20 minutes, an average speed of 36 km/hr. What is most interesting at the moment in Warsaw is that there seems to be no pattern to follow to know which will be a good day and which a bad one! I’ve heard rumours that Warsaw has employed a Swiss company to come and play tunes with the traffic lights but I can find no hard evidence that this is true. If it is true then I assume they are still playing.

It used to be fairly predictable that an average journey to work will take about the same time every day unless you encounter any kind of bad weather in which case you can add perhaps 25% to the time. I never really understood why driving in rain or snow (in Warsaw centrum) is so much more complicated than dry weather but I have given up asking. Also predictable are the seasonal variations for Christmas, summer holiday time, etc.

But. We are right now at a time when holidays are over and generally speaking there are few excuses for Warsawites not to be going to work. It is unreasonable to expect that other factors are at work here, like half the population taking the tram/metro one day and driving the next (although that may just account for the 25% hike for wet days?). So we should right now be in a period of steady-state, cruddy traffic leading up to Christmas and the variation in journey times (barring accidents and such-like) should be minimal.

Why then am I getting journey times spread all over the chart between 20-50 minutes AND it doesn’t really matter whether it’s raining or not? I’ve had 20 minute journeys in the dry and the wet, similarly with the 45 minute plus journeys.

EDIT – case in point – same journey today, left office same time, weather was worse than yesterday but the trip took 25 minutes. Exactly half of yesterday. ???

There is also a strange pattern to the traffic jams. Quite often recently, I’ve found myself tearing my hair out going nowhere fast on Jana Pawla II, or elsewhere, and having overcome my reluctance to change route I find that the rest of the city is flowing fast as a Wisła sewage outlet! This is most unusual. Used to be that if one route was bad then they were all bad heading in the same direction.

Lastly, unless it’s my imagination, we’re having North-South days and East-West days. One day my route (N-S) is flowing well, the next it is not, presumably because the E-W route is flowing well- on the basis that it’s not possible to please everyone all the time.

My conclusion is that someone is definitely playing with things. Does anyone have any concrete news about this or is it all just a figment of my imagination? Is anyone else experiencing strange traffic patterns?

I’m waiting for Młociny metro station to finally open (when is that due to happen?). Then I’ll have a 5 minute drive and a ??? minute metro/walk to the office. Unless I’m dropping Zosia at school (most days in fact) in which case this idea gets a bit more complicated and possibly saves no time versus even the 50 minute drive. Bugger!

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8 thoughts on “Warsaw traffic

  1. No no no. This is not construction works related. What is left of them might well be messing things up but they are not moving the construction works to a different location every evening! This is something very much more sinister! :)

  2. There’s this new system being introduced with EU money to ‘ease the flow of Warsaw traffic’. Signs are up all over the place. This system ‘learns’ as it goes along; over time it should make traffic smoother. IN THEORY. A taxi driver told me that it costs 200,000 PLN to erect one set of lights at a given junction. The additional cost of putting traffic sensors into the asphalt (UK style) that change the lights according to traffic (rather than a simple timer mechanism) is a mere 5,000 PLN. There are too few of these. All too often lights are unsynchronised; you wait too long at junctions that are lightly used (or unused).

  3. Thanks Michael. The system is not learning fast enough, perhaps we needed the oky-koky 2000 version and not the cheap one we’re having installed.

    Then again, it might just be another case of “nie do konca” disease.

  4. Don’t worry – there will be 1200km of new highways by Euro 2012 – isn’t that what they said?!? I bet it will be about 300km – max

    The sensors – great idea but I guess they will install the software that measure in MPH not KPH and probably be sequenced by the same guy who had the bright idea to have the clock in the metro tell you how long ago the last train left not how long it will be till the next one arrives – go figure

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