Editorial: How much does traffic cost business?

Last Updated on Friday, 30 September, 2022 at 3:24 pm by Andre Camilleri

Schools have started and, with them, the traffic problems increased.

It’s not that we had a summer which was free of chaos on the streets. Far from it. But the reopening of the school doors has inevitably led to longer traffic jams, and longer time on the road.

Traffic jams have been a problem for decades, but they have become a bigger nightmare in the last decade mostly because of a huge surge in population, which meant that the number of cars on ours roads has also seen a rapid rise.

Apart from pollution issues, and more wear-and-tear issues for cars, one other consideration should be made on how much traffic is costing us.

Let’s start from the fact that many employees turn up late for work. Ten or 15 minutes might not make a big difference, but when these are put together they multiply into hours of absence from the place of work.  This is, no doubt, affecting our productivity levels.

There are companies which give little thought to employees who arrive late, but then there are others who employ a strict regime, which could also mean that workers who regularly turn up late are losing out. Some might even face disciplinary action for their tardiness when, really and truly, it is not their fault.

Much more time is lost by workers whose job is on the streets, particularly those who deliver items from one place to another. This includes both workers who, say, transport items from warehouses to shops and those who, then, deliver items that are bought by customers to their doorstep.

The Covid-19 pandemic, as well as our busier streets, have pushed many more people to stay at home rather than go shopping. Supermarkets have invested in people who do the shopping for others and in vans that are then used to transport the items bought. But longer hours in traffic mean more costs for the supermarkets too.

It is also likely that companies involved in logistics have had to buy more vehicles to be able to carry out the same amount of transport jobs. This is because we have arrived at a situation in which fewer trips can be performed in a day of work because of traffic, and yet the volume of what needs to be transported has increased (also because of a sharp rise in our population).

The fact that major thoroughfares have been closed to carry out necessary upgrades, while the building of new roads and the widening of others takes months if not years to complete mean that more and more hours are spent on the road.

And this matter will not go away anytime soon, as more projects have started and others are planned for the near future.

So we ask: how much is all this costing us?

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