Transport: Urban traffic getting slower

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Car journeys are taking longer because of increasing congestion, according to Government figures released yesterday. The survey of speeds in 24 English towns and cities, carried out by the Department of Transport in 1996 and 1997, showed that in 14 regions cars were travelling slower.

The biggest fall in average speeds was seen in Peterborough, where cars in off-peak hours had been travelling at 38.8 mph in 1993 and now only manage 33.7 mph.

Not all cities suffered. In six areas, there has been a significant increase in average speed. In Derby, speeds rose by nearly 5 mph. In Tyneside, the absence of roadworks when surveying took place in January 1997 led to a rise in average speeds of more than 3mph during the rush hour.