New TTI Study Confirms Census Findings of Lengthening Commutes
The Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI) 2002 Urban Mobility report, released on June 20, found that traffic delays in the nation’s largest urban areas increased by 41 percent since 1990. As a result, the average urban rush-hour driver now spends an average of 62 additional hours annually — the equivalent of one-and-a-half working weeks — stuck in traffic because of congestion, up from 44 hours in 1990. This confirms the findings of the 2000 Census, which found that average commutes nationally have increased from 22.4 minutes in 1990 to 25.5 minutes in 2000.
“Worsening traffic congestion has become a fact of life for many of our urban regions, underscoring the need for increased investment at the federal, state, and local levels in road projects that would help alleviate the traffic bottlenecks in the system,” said William Wilkins, executive director of The Road Information Program (TRIP), a national nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington, DC.
According to the TTI, the nation’s 10 worst urban areas, in order of rank, are: Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, Chicago, Washington, DC, Boston, Miami-Hialeah, Seattle-Everett, Denver, San Jose, and New York-northeastern NJ. The list also places San Diego at 16, San Bernardino-Riverside at 20, and Sacramento at 22.
Growing traffic congestion is also likely to cost consumers more than lost time. A recent study by the Washington Research Council looked at traffic congestion rates in the nation’s largest urban areas and found that higher levels of traffic congestion resulted in greater rates of inflation as increasing costs of shipping products into a community resulted in higher prices at the store.
According to TRIP, traffic congestion solutions include:
Adding roadway capacity, largely along existing routes.
Improving the efficiency of the existing system with ramp metering, improved signalization, and improved incident management.
Improved public transit service.