Johannesburg is rated as having some of the worst traffic in the world. This, coupled with the general aggressiveness of our drivers creates an extremely stressful commuting experience. Commuting times in Montreal, London and Chicago made us look quite pathetic with their efficient and extremely effective public transport systems. We are not so lucky, as in South Africa we have an extremely high rate of own car usage. Our public transportation system is either unreliable and cheap or efficient and expensive. The government, aware of this issue, is attempting to remedy this with the Gautrain and the Rea Vaya bus systems. The Gautrain has been somewhat of a success but the Rea Vaya system is an utter mess with delays in construction and mini-bus taxis using the bus lanes as their own.
Navigation provider TomTom has taken a more direct approach to managing traffic. Their vision is to organize it. They have partnered with Tracker (whereby clients are asked to opt-in to allow Tracker to anonymously track their location and speed) and the same traffic providers that radio stations use. This gives them an extremely comprehensive view of traffic around South Africa. This data is collated then sent to their Live connected devices, with updates every two minutes. When traffic conditions change a pop-up on the screen shows the new, faster route and asks if you would like to take it. The overall effect of this, as the devices become more prolific, are better-informed drives making good decisions.
TomTom sent us the TomTom TopGear Go with Live services for over a month. This month was used traveling quite extensively through central Johannesburg and at generally congested times. I was skeptical of the service; The best measurement for traffic is chaos theory and the fact that this little TomTom could cut me a hole through the chaos sounded a little far fetched.
That said, it appears that TomTom, through what can only be witchcraft, have created a service the noticeably reduces time spent in traffic. On particularly busy days, like when there was rain the night before and all the robots are out, the traffic change pop-up will appear three to four times. Each time it appears it recommends a route three to seven minutes faster than the one I am on. Seriously reducing driving time.
On a personal note, I like to think that I know Johannesburg rather well. The short-cuts, the routes to take at different times of the day and when to avoid the highway like the plague! However, using TomTom Live Services on these routes has shown me that I am a useless navigator. As it has knocked off a good 20 minutes (on average) from my usual 50 minute drive.
As a result the TomTom Live device has become an indispensable part of my daily travels.