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A rush hour or peak hour is a part of the day during which traffic congestion on roads and crowding on public transport is at its highest. Normally, this happens twice a day—once in the morning and once in the evening, the times during when the most people commute.


The name is sometimes a misnomer, as the peak period often consists of more than one hour and the "rush" refers to volume of traffic, not rate of flow. Typically, rush hour lasts from 6–10 am (06:00–10:00) and from 4–7 pm (16:00–19:00) local time. With people travelling places during their lunch time by car too, it is arguable that noon till 2 pm (14:00) is another, less frantic, rush hour.

The frequency of public transport is usually higher in the rush hour, and in the case of trains, longer ones are often employed. However, the increase in capacity is often less than the number of passengers, due to the limits on available vehicles, staff and, in the case of rail transport, track capacity including platform length. As a result vehicles are more crowded and not everybody has a seat. This may have the effect of making public transport less desirable, therefore pushing more people into cars and making the traffic worse.

Transport demand management, such as road pricing or a congestion charge, is designed to induce people to alter their travel habits so as to minimize congestion.

Similarly public transport fares may be higher; this is usually presented as an off-peak discount for single fares, though season tickets or multi-ride tickets, commonly used in rush hours by commuters, are also sold at a discount.

Traffic management by country


In Australia, the cities of Sydneymarker and Melbournemarker are usually the most congested cities in the morning between 6:00 am and 9:00 am and then 4:30 pm till 7:00 pm. In Melbourne the Monash Freeway which connects Melbourne's suburban sprawl to the city is usually heavily congested each morning and evening.


In São Paulomarker, Brazilmarker, each vehicle is assigned a certain day of the week in which they cannot travel the roads during rush hour (7 am to 10 am and 5 pm to 8 pm). The day of the week for each vehicle is derived from the last digit in the licence plate number and the rule is enforced by traffic police and by hundreds of strategically positioned traffic cameras backed by computerized image-recognition systems that issue tickets to offending drivers. This policy is aimed at reducing the number of vehicles on the roads and encouraging the use of buses, subway and the urban train systems.


In the pico y placa (peak and license plate) program, officially implemented in Bogotámarker, drivers of non-commercial automobiles are prevented from driving them during rush hours on certain days of the week. The vehicles barred each day are determined by the last digit of their license plate. The measure is mandatory and those who break it are penalized. The digits banned each day are rotated every year.


In Japan, share of rail transportation is high and use of automobiles is restrained consequently. Rail transport accounts for 27 percent of all passenger transport in Japan (other examples: Germany (7.7%), United Kingdom (6.4%), United States (0.6%)). Namely, in Greater Tokyo Areamarker and Keihanshin metropolitan area, railway has dense network and frequent service, and accounts for more than half of passenger transport, and majority of people there commute by public transport without using their cars.

Railway in Greater Tokyo Areamarker has severe congestion. It is gradually being improved by increasing the capacity of rail and expansion of Home Liner and bi-level Green car (First-class) increases the chance to commute with comfortable sheet paying additional supplement. But it is still common in major lines of Tokyo that more than 3,000 passengers packed in a 10-car train and about 100,000 passengers are transported in an hour (Usually, maximum capacity of double-track commuter rail in Japan is 10-car trains, 2 minutes interval) and presumably one of the most congested railways in the world.

In road transport, Expressways of Japan is operated by beneficiaries-pay principle and imposes expensive toll fee, and it also has an effect to reduce road traffic. Electronic toll collection (ETC) is widespread and discount in unoccupied midnight is introduced to disperse traffic without concentrating in rush hour. Road pricing is being considered but currently not introduced, partly because expressway fee is already very high.


In the capital city of Athensmarker the rush hours are usually 7.00 to 10.00 and 16.00 to 19.00. During this period of day, there is congestion in the Athens Mass Transit System, most notably in buses and metro, as well as road traffic. There is also increased road traffic.The 6-car trains of Athens Metro carries almost 1.5 million passengers during a typical week day.


For trains in the Netherlands there is an off-peak discount available, giving a 40% discount. Its validity starts at 09:00 (until 4:00 the next morning) on weekdays, and all day at weekends and in July and August. In the case of a group of up to four people, all get the discount even if only one has a pass.

Rail passes not requiring an additional ticket come in two versions: for a fixed route, and for the whole network. Both are mainly used by commuters. No off-peak discount version of these passes is offered since there is insufficient demand; commuters usually cannot avoid the rush hour.


Within Metro Manilamarker, the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program, more popularly known as the Number Coding Scheme, is implemented by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. The program stipulates that vehicles are prohibited from plying all roads within the metropolis, depending on the last digit of their license plates and on the day of the week.

Vehicles are banned on the roads from 7 AM to 7 PM, with private vehicles enjoying a five-hour window from 10 AM to 3 PM, during which they are allowed on the roads. Public vehicles such as buses and jeepneys do not have this free period. The cities of Makatimarker and San Juanmarker do not implement the five-hour window.

Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 or 2 are covered by this regulation on Mondays. Those with plates ending in 3 or 4 are affected on Tuesdays. Vehicles with plates ending in 5 or 6 are covered on Wednesdays. Those with plates ending in 7 or 8 are covered on Thursdays. And vehicles with plates ending in 9 or 0 are affected on Fridays.

Exempted from the program are motorcylces, school buses, shuttle buses, ambulances, firetrucks, police cars, military vehicles, those carrying a person needing immediate medical attention, and vehicles with diplomatic license plates.

United Kingdom

In Londonmarker, Peak Day Travelcards allow travel at all hours that day. Off-peak Day Travelcards are 20-50% cheaper but are valid for travel only after 9:30am and on weekends. This is an attempt to discourage travel on the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, buses, and trams during the crowded weekday morning peak. There is a similar system on Transport (Bus and Tyne and Wear Metro) in the Newcastle upon Tynemarker area. In Londonmarker, congestion charges are intended to discourage driving between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

In Manchestermarker, the Metrolink light rail system offers single, return and 'Metromax' daysaver tickets at a reduced price when they are purchased after 9:30am. This incentive is designed to lure passengers into avoiding the daily crowded conditions at Metrolink stations during rush-hour.

For Young Persons Railcard holders, the offer of one-third off ticket prices is valid only after 10:00 (unless a minimum fare is paid) or weekends. This restriction is lifted in July and August, the main summer holiday season.

For other Railcards, various other restrictions apply; for example, the Family Railcard and Network Railcard cannot be used for peak journeys within London and south-east England.

United States

Efforts to manage transportation demand during rush hour periods vary by state and by metropolitan area. In some states, freeways have designated lanes that become HOV only during rush hour periods, while open to all vehicles at other times. In others, such as the Massachusetts portion of I-93, travel is permitted in the breakdown lane during this time. Several states, including Virginiamarker, Californiamarker, New Yorkmarker, Arizonamarker, Wisconsinmarker, and Illinoismarker, use ramp meters to regulate traffic entering freeways during rush hour. Transportation officials in Coloradomarker and Minnesotamarker have added value pricing to some urban freeways around Denvermarker and the Twin Citiesmarker, charging motorists a higher toll during peak periods. Transit agencies – such as Metro North serving New York Citymarker and WMATA serving Washington, D.C.marker – charge riders a higher fare for travel during the morning and evening rush hour.

In US Cities, rush hour times can range from 4:00AM-9:00AM in cities like New York Citymarker or the Tri-State region. New York commuters have to be on the road by at least 5 or 6 because traffic starts getting heavy around 6:30-9:30 AM. Also many train commuters leave early to get the best seats on the trains, because by 7:00AM the trains are packed with passengers standing. In Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker they have a New York Style rush hour, but Los Angeles and Southern California in general is more of a car culture than New York City. Bus and train service in Los Angeles are limited and tend to be underused. In Chicagomarker or the Chicagoland region, people use the Metra Trains and buses. Chicagoans use mass transit like their counterparts in New York.

In Cleveland, Ohiomarker or Northeast Ohio rush hour begins at 6:00AM-9:00AM, 7:30AM-9:00AM is the peak of Cleveland's rush hour. Because of Cleveland's compact size, most people can be in Downtown Cleveland within a 10-45 minutes. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority runs buses every half hour and some routes have non-stop freeway buses that run during rush hour.

There is also an afternoon rush hour. For the New York City area it begins around 2:30PM and can run until 8:00PM. Some people who live in Connecticut who work in New York get home at 7:00 PM. In Cleveland the afternoon rush hour begins at 3:30PM and usually wraps up by 6:00PM. Usually the RTA in Cleveland has an afternoon rush hour schedule like the morning.

Bostonmarker, Massachusettsmarker, and the larger Greater Boston region, is notorious for traffic congestion due to the region's high population density, outmoded highway system, and the high concentration of corporations with large offices located along major expressways and urban loops (including Route 128, MassPike, I-93, I-495). Despite the region's compact nature, inbound traffic becomes very heavy on all expressways as early as 5:45AM on a typical weekday morning, making an inbound drive from the suburbs as long as 45 minutes. On the other hand, recent improvements brought about as part of the infamous Big Digmarker project have improved expressway traffic within Boston's city limits.

Cities such as Los Angelesmarker, Atlantamarker, and Washington D.C.marker, to name a few, are known for having some of the worst traffic in the country.

In addition 7:00-9:00 and 2:00PM-3:30PM schoolkids have rush hour as they too have to commute to school.

The "third rush hour"

The term the third rush hour has been used to refer to a period of the midday in which roads in urban and suburban areas become congested due to a large number of people taking lunch breaks using their vehicles. These motorists often frequent restaurants and fast food locations, where vehicles crowding the entrances cause traffic congestion. Active senior citizens, who travel by automobile to engage in many midday activities, also contribute to the midday rush hour.

At other times (such as evenings and weekends), additional periods of congestion can be the result of various special events, such as sports games, festivals, or religious services. Out-of-the-ordinary congestion can be the result of an accident, construction, long holiday weekends, or inclement weather.

See also


  1. -> Trámites
  2. Social and Environmental Report, JR East Japan
  3. Young Persons Railcard
  4. Family Railcard
  5. Fehr, Stephen. "Third Rush Hour Squeezes Into Midday; Road Congestion at Lunchtime Rivals Morning, Evening Commutes". The Washington Post. August 12, 1990
  6. United States Congress. Committee on the District of Columbia. (1977). Hearings, reports and prints of the House Committee on the District of Columbia
  7. Langdon, Philip. (1994). A better place to live: reshaping the American suburb. University of Massachusetts. p. 177. ISBN 978-0870239144

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