A rush hour (American English, British English) or peak hour (Australian English) 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 every weekday: once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening, the times during which most people commute. The term is often used for a period of peak congestion that may last for more than one hour.
The term is very broad, but often refers specifically to private automobile transportation traffic, even when there is a large volume of cars on a road but not many people, or if the volume is normal but there is some disruption of speed. By analogy to vehicular traffic, the term Internet rush hour has been used to describe periods of peak data network usage, resulting in delays and slower delivery of data packets.
The name is sometimes a misnomer, as the peak period often lasts more than one hour and the "rush" refers to the volume of traffic, not the speed of its flow. Peak traffic periods may vary from country to country, city to city, from region to region, and seasonally.
The frequency of public transport service is usually higher in the rush hour, and longer trains or larger vehicles are often used. However, the increase in capacity is often less than the increased number of passengers, due to the limits on available vehicles, staff and, in the case of rail transport, track capacity including platform length. The resulting crowding may force many passengers to stand, and others may be unable to board. If there is inadequate capacity, this can make public transport less attractive, leading to higher car use and partly shifting the congestion to roads.
Transport demand management, such as road pricing or a congestion charge, is designed to induce people to alter their travel timing to minimize congestion. Similarly, public transport fares may be higher during peak periods; this is often presented as an off peak discount for single fares. Season tickets or multi-ride tickets, sold at a discount, are commonly used in rush hours by commuters, and may or may not reflect rush hour fare differentials.
Staggered hours have been promoted as a means of spreading demand across a longer time span—for example, in Rush Hour (1941 film) and by the International Labour Office.
In the morning, and evening, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, and Auckland and Christchurch are usually the most congested cities in Australia and New Zealand respectively. In Melbourne the Monash Freeway, which connects Melbourne's suburban sprawl to the city, is usually heavily congested each morning and evening. In Perth, Mitchell Freeway, Kwinana Freeway and various arterial roads are usually congested between peak hours, making movement between suburbs and the city quite slow.
Efforts to minimise traffic congestion during peak hour vary on a state by state and city by city basis.
In Melbourne, congestion is managed by means including:
In Brisbane, congestion is managed by means including:
"(Rocket)" in timetables, where many inner city suburb stops may be bypassed.
In Sydney, congestion is managed by many means including:
Traffic congestion is managed through the Traffic Management Centre via a network of Closed Circuit TV's, with operators able to change the timing of traffic signals to reduce wait times
In São Paulo, Brazil, each vehicle is assigned a certain day of the week in which it cannot travel the roads during rush hour (7–10 am and 5–8 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 (1 and 2 for Mondays, 3 and 4 for Tuesdays, 5 and 6 for Wednesdays, 7 and 8 for Thursdays and 9 and 10 for Fridays). 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.
Vancouver's portion of the Trans-Canada Highway is served with high-occupancy vehicle lanes in addition to standard lanes for all automobiles. These lanes are meant to improve traffic flow by encouraging carpooling and transit use. Richmond, part of the Vancouver metro region, is also constructing a new interchange at Steveson Highway and British Columbia Highway 99 which will be the first of its kind in British Columbia in an effort to improve traffic flow.
Kelowna's Harvey Avenue is served also by HOV lanes.
China is home to some of the busiest subway networks in the world. Despite aggressive expansion of rapid transit networks in the past decade, rapid urban population growth has put heavy demand on urban transport. Some systems routinely restrict station entrances and transfer passages to prevent the network from being overwhelmed. For example, 96 subway stations in the Beijing Subway have entry restrictions at some point of the day. The Guangzhou Metro has 51 stations with passenger flow restrictions.
In the pico y placa (peak and license plate) program in Bogotá, 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, the proportion of rail transportation is high compared with the use of automobiles. Rail transport accounts for 27% of all passenger transport in Japan (other examples: Germany (7.7%), United Kingdom (6.4%), United States (0.6%)). In the Greater Tokyo Area and the Keihanshin metropolitan area there is a dense rail network and frequent service, which accounts for more than half of the passenger transport; most people in the area commute by public transport without using cars.
Railways in the Greater Tokyo Area are traditionally known to be severely congested, with oshiya employed to assist passengers getting on the train. This is gradually being improved by increasing rail capacity and demand management. Train lines in Tokyo have had significant reductions in overcrowding and today run at an average of 163 percent of capacity.[a] This is in contrast to the average loading of 221 percent of designed capacity[a] in 1975 rush-hour trains.
In road transport, the expressways of Japan operate on a beneficiaries-pay principle which imposes expensive toll fees, having the effect of reducing road traffic. Electronic toll collection (ETC) is widespread and discounts during low-traffic periods have been introduced to distribute traffic over a longer period. Road pricing is being considered but has not been introduced, partly because the expressway fee is already very high.
For trains in the Netherlands there is an off-peak discount available, giving a 40% discount. Its validity starts at 9 am (until 4 am 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.
Inside Metro Manila, the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program, 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.
The vehicles are banned from 7 am to 7 pm. Unlike the public vehicles, the private vehicles have a five-hour window exception which runs from 10 am to 3 pm. However, the cities of Makati and San Juan do not implement the five-hour window.
This table shows the license plates with numbers ending with its corresponding days:
|1 and 2
|3 and 4
|5 and 6
|7 and 8
|9 and 0
Exempted from the program are motorcycles, school buses, shuttle buses, ambulances, fire engines, police cars, military vehicles, those carrying a person needing immediate medical attention, and vehicles with diplomatic license plates.
On the other hand, in other places, there are certain policies the municipal or city government are proposing or has implemented for the whole municipality or city.
While most schools are open, peak hours in rapid transit trains on Manila Metro Rail Transit System and Manila Light Rail Transit System, and in commuter trains on Philippine National Railways are 6-9 am and 4-8 pm.
In Singapore, there is a free travel scheme before 7:45 am and 50 cent discount between 7:45 am and 8 am, which applies only if you exit and not enter at the 18 CBD stations. This is an attempt to encourage commuters' travel on the MRT outside the crowded weekday morning peak. Electronic Road Pricing is intended to discourage driving between 7:30 am and 8 pm. In addition, employees were given travel incentives through Travel Smart programme. Peak hours are defined as follows: 7:30–9:30 am and 5–8 pm, with different times for terminal stations.
In London, Peak Day Travelcards allow travel at all hours. Off-peak Day Travelcards are 20–50% cheaper but are valid for travel only after 9:30 am and on weekends. This is an attempt to encourage commuters' travel on the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, buses, and trams outside of the crowded weekday morning peak. There is a similar system on Transport (Bus and Tyne and Wear Metro) in the Newcastle upon Tyne area. In London, congestion charges are intended to discourage driving between 7 am and 6 pm.
In Manchester, the Metrolink light rail system offers single, return and 'Metromax' daysaver tickets at a reduced price when they are purchased after 9:30 am. This incentive is designed to lure passengers into avoiding the daily crowded conditions at Metrolink stations during rush hour.
For 16–25 Railcard holders, the offer of one-third off ticket prices is valid only after 10 am (unless a minimum fare is paid) or weekends. This restriction does not apply in July and August, the main summer holiday season.
For other Railcards, other restrictions apply; for example, the Family Railcard and Network Railcard cannot be used for peak journeys within London and south-east England.
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 (High-Occupancy Vehicle, aka car-pooling) only during rush hours, 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 use ramp meters to regulate traffic entering freeways during rush hour. Transportation officials in Colorado and Minnesota have added value pricing to some urban freeways around Denver, the Twin Cities, and Seattle, charging motorists a higher toll during peak periods.
Transit agencies – such as Metro-North serving New York City and WMATA serving Washington, D.C. – often charge riders a higher "peak fare" for travel during the morning and evening rush hour.
Heavy traffic within the larger Greater Boston region was addressed with the Big Dig project, which temporarily improved expressway traffic.
The term "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 numerous people taking lunch breaks using their vehicles. These motorists often frequent restaurants and fast food locations, where vehicles crowding the entrances cause traffic congestion.
a. ^ Crowding levels defined by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism:
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