For the past several years, traffic researchers had noticed an unusual trend: declining congestion in metropolitan areas. Not surprisingly, the slide began in 2008 -- around the time that much of the world was hit with a double-wallop of recession and soaring gas prices. But now that national economies have begun to recover, traffic is worsening, and a new study from INRIX puts the news in perspective.
INRIX is a major traffic-services corporation. The data from its study of roadway congestion comes from a variety of sources, but most notably, it's provided by around 4,000,000 vehicles that INRIX services each day via its GPS contracts. Vehicles with INRIX-backed systems feed anonymous data to the company, telling researchers where they are, how fast they're moving, and other factors. INRIX then crunches those numbers to create its annual Traffic Scorecard.
Like its predecessors, the 2010 INRIX National Traffic Scorecard is an embarrassment of riches -- far more info than most of you probably want or need, so we're just going to give you the high points. If you'd like the full overview, you can find it at http://inrix.com/scorecard.
- Of the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S., the most congested in 2010 maintained their rank from 2009: Los Angeles was #1, followed by New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Dallas.
- The bottom five didn't shift much, either: Cape Coral/Fort Myers, Florida was #100, followed by Lakeland/Winter Haven, FL, Bradenton/Sarasota/Venice, FL, Modesto, California, and Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville, FL.
- Traffic in Los Angeles was worse than anywhere INRIX studied, including markets in Europe.
- On average, travel times for all drivers have increased 10% over the past year.
- If you drive in the ten most-congested travel corridors -- which generally span New York and Los Angeles, with stretches of Chicago and Pittsburgh thrown in for good measure -- you are now spending a whopping one month of your life in idle traffic each year.
- The worst time to travel is on Friday between 5pm and 6pm. (Yet another reason to skip out early at the end of the week.)
- Worst of all: the U.S. economy has yet to full recover from the recession. When employment levels return to those of 2007, the country's roadways will need to accommodate an additional 9,000,000 daily commutes. If gas prices rise high enough, however, the impact might be slightly mitigated.
For more information, check out the full press release from INRIX below, or visit http://inrix.com/scorecard.
* * * * *
America Back on the Road to Gridlock According to the INRIX National Traffic Scorecard
INRIX®, a leading provider of traffic and navigation services, today released its 4th Annual INRIX National Traffic Scorecard revealing gridlock and longer commute times returning to America’s roads. Traffic congestion increased nationwide for 11 consecutive months in 2010 with drivers experiencing increased traffic congestion nearly every hour of the day. The 150+ page report is available as a free download at http://inrix.com/scorecard.
“America is back on the road to gridlock,” said Bryan Mistele, INRIX president and CEO. “Population growth combined with increases in interstate commerce spurred by economic recovery are fueling these increases. With only 150,000 new jobs created in our nation’s urban centers last year, we can expect even worse gridlock when the 6 million jobs lost in the recession return to the nation’s cities.”
Despite only modest employment gains in 2010, drivers are experiencing an average 10 percent increase in travel times. If unemployment drops to 7 percent by 2012 as economists’ predict, 9 million more daily work trips will jam our nation’s road network. In fact, 70 of the Top 100 Most Populated Cities in the U.S. are experiencing increases in traffic congestion. Nine cities already have surpassed their 2007 peak. By analyzing traffic on major highways in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas in 2010, the Top 10 most congested U.S. cities are:
1. Los Angeles: On Thursday at 5:30 p.m., the average trip takes 71 percent longer than normal
2. New York: On Friday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 47 percent longer than normal
3. Chicago: On Friday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 41 percent longer
4. Washington, D.C.: On Thursday at 5:30 p.m., the average trip takes 51 percent longer than normal
5. Dallas: On Friday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 36 percent longer than normal
6. San Francisco: On Thursday at 5:30 p.m., the average trip takes 63 percent longer than normal
7. Houston: On Friday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 33 percent longer than normal
8. Boston: On Friday at 5:30 p.m., the average trip takes 33 percent longer than normal
9. Philadelphia: On Friday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 29 percent longer than normal
10. Seattle: On Thursday at 5:15 p.m., the average trip takes 49 percent longer than normal
These cities account for more than half of our nation’s traffic congestion with 9 of the Top 10 Cities experiencing modest increases in traffic congestion in 2010 (Chicago being the lone exception). Of these cities, New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia experienced increases of almost 20 percent attributable to rebounds in the technology, healthcare, manufacturing, freight movement and services sectors that are the backbone of these local economies. In comparing U.S. and European cities, Los Angeles’ freeway system is more congested than that of any other city in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
U.S. Traffic Patterns & Worst Traffic Corridors
Nationwide, Americans traveling the nation’s worst traffic corridors experience up to 80 hours of delay annually on the afternoon commute alone. Over 500 miles of roads were congested 25 hours a week or more, nearly 200 of those miles were congested 40 hours a week or more – higher than any previous year. Of the 341 corridors of at least 3 miles long that experience heavy traffic congestion every day, the Top 10 Worst U.S. Traffic Corridors were:
1. New York: An 11 mile stretch of I-95 SB (NE Thwy, Bruckner/Cross Bronx Expys) from Conner St to the Hudson Terrace exit that takes 43 minutes on avg. with 30 minutes of delay
2. Los Angeles: A 20 mile stretch of the Riverside Fwy/CA-91 EB from the CA-55/Costa Mesa Fwy interchange to the McKinley St. exit that takes 57 minutes on avg. with 37 minutes of delay
3. Los Angeles: A 13 mile stretch of the San Diego Fwy/I-405 NB from I-105/Imperial Hwy interchange through the Getty Center Dr. exit that takes 41 minutes on avg. with 28 minutes of delay
4. Chicago: A 16 mile stretch of I-90/I-94 EB (Kennedy/Dan Ryan Expys) from the I-294/Tri-State Tollway to the Ruble St. exits that takes 49 minutes on avg. with 32 minutes of delay
5. Los Angeles: A 15 mile stretch of the Santa Monica Fwy/I-10 EB from CA-1/Lincoln Blvd. exit to Alameda St. that takes 42 minutes on avg. with 28 minutes of delay
6. New York: A 16 mile stretch of the Long Island Expy/I-495 EB from the Maurice Ave. exit to Mineaola Ave./Willis Ave. exit that takes 45 minutes on avg. with 29 minutes of delay
7. Los Angeles: A 17.5 mile stretch of I-5 SB (Santa Ana/Golden St Fwys) from E. Ceasar Chavez Ave to Valley View Ave. exits that takes 45 minutes on avg. with 30 minutes of delay
8. New York: A 10 mile stretch of I-278 WB (Brooklyn Queens/Gowanus Expy) from NY-25A/Northern Blvd. to the NY-27/Prospect Expy. Exits that takes 37 minutes on avg. with 24 minutes of delay
9. Pittsburgh: An intense 3 mile stretch of Penn Lincoln Pkwy/I-376 EB from Lydia St. to the US-19 TK RT/PA-51 exit that takes 17 minutes on avg. with 13 minutes of delay in the morning peak period
10. Los Angeles: A 13 mile stretch of the San Bernadino Fwy/I-10 EB from City Terrace/Herbert Ave. to Baldwin Park Blvd. that takes 37 minutes on avg. with 24 minutes of delay
If you happen to drive any of the Top 10 Worst Corridors during rush hour you spend more than one month per year (4 work weeks) stuck in traffic and could ride a bike faster than you could drive your car to work. Given these are averages, it is important to note that travel times are often much worse many days of the year.
The INRIX U.S. Scorecard also takes a micro look at traffic problems all across the country – zooming in on the total hours spent in traffic, worst day of the week for commuting and average speeds for the Top 100 U.S. cities along with hundreds of other details.
Unique patterns evolving out of U.S. traffic congestion include:
• Worst Traffic Day: Thursday
• Worst Week Day Morning: Tuesday
• Worst Commuting Hour: Friday 5-6 p.m.
• Worst Evening Commute: Friday
• Best Week Day for Traffic: Monday
• Best Week Day Morning: Friday morning
• Best Week Day Commuting Hour: Friday 6-7 AM
• Best Week Day Afternoon: Monday
Turning Information into Insight and Taking Action
The Annual INRIX Traffic Scorecard is based on analysis of raw data from INRIX’s own historical traffic database generated by the company’s Smart Driver Network of more than 4 million vehicles traveling the roads everyday including taxis, airport shuttles, service delivery vans, long haul trucks as well as consumer vehicles and mobile devices. Each data report from these GPS-equipped vehicles and devices includes the speed, location and heading of a particular vehicle at a reported date and time. In creating the Scorecard, INRIX analyzes information for every road segment during every hour of the day to generate the most comprehensive and timely congestion analyses to date, covering the largest 100 metropolitan areas and the nation’s entire highway, interstate and limited access road network.
INRIX is committed to working with its partners and customers to better understand the many issues that can affect the flow of traffic and provide consumers, businesses and the public sector with solutions for addressing these problems. Today, INRIX’s real-time traffic information helps 16 states from Florida to Maine keep traffic and commerce moving along the 1,925 mile I-95 corridor. In addition to Ford, Audi, Toyota and more than a dozen other OEMs and navigation providers, consumers can save time on their daily travels using our popular INRIX Traffic app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices -http://inrixtraffic.com.
Available for free as a public service from INRIX, the INRIX National Traffic Scorecard is the definitive source on traffic congestion. The report is the first of its kind to rank and provide detailed information on the 100 most congested U.S. metropolitan areas and the 100 worst traffic bottlenecks. Additionally, INRIX provides transportation agencies in 47 states with services allow them to monitoring their road network to improve real-time operations and network planning. For more information about traffic in your city or to see the complete National Traffic Scorecard, visit: http://inrix.com/scorecard and to view videos about the report go to http://YouTube.com/INRIXTraffic.
1 3.3.11 Remarks by Credit Suisse Economists and former Federal Officials Peter Hooper and Neil Soss on job growth outpacing February estimates with 217,000 new jobs created.
2 Overall Congestion vs. Travel Time Tax (T3): Overall congestion quantifies and ranks the total congestion in a region. Larger regions tend to have more roads and more locations where congestion occurs, hence more overall congestion. However, Travel Time Tax (T3) equalizes all regions by dividing out the difference in the size of each region’s road network – giving a more driver centric view of congestion. For example, New York and Honolulu have comparable T3 – this implies that an average commuter in both cities faces similar delays. However, New York has roughly 5 times more people and more than 3 times more road miles of major highways. So at a system level New York has much more overall congestion while individuals in both regions experiences similar congestion levels.
An analogy is power consumption – the amount of power consumed in each home is similar to the T3; while the amount of total power consumed in a region is similar to overall congestion. Both measures – power used in each home (T3) and power used overall in the region (overall congestion) – are relevant and thus measured.
3 Travel Time Tax (T3) when traveling at the worst time on the worst traffic day of the week during peak travel hours
4 Stretches of road 3 miles or longer where traffic speeds during peak periods are less than half of speeds without traffic.
5 Data based on U.S. Census Bureau statistic that 75% of all trips are for work. See Table 1099 athttp://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/transportation.html.