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New Report Calculates Congestion’s Cost

Thursday, February 23, 2017

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Traffic congestion isn’t just an annoyance; it’s a big economic drain, according to a new report from a transportation analytics firm.

The average American loses nearly $1,400 each year to direct and indirect costs related to congestion, says the new Global Traffic Scorecard, from INRIX. And in the U.S., citizens can expect to spend more than an entire work week—about 42 hours—in congestion at peak traffic hours, though the country ranks fifth among countries surveyed on that particular figure.

LA traffic

Los Angeles is the most congested city in the U.S. and in the world, according to the report, with the average driver there spending 104 hours in peak-hours congestion each year.

The new report looks at traffic congestion in 38 countries via a number of metrics. Thailand is assessed by INRIX has having the most congestion of any country studied, with 61 hours spent in peak congestion by the average driver. The firm gives Thailand a “congestion index” score of 10.4; the least congested country studied, Singapore, has a score of 1.4.

Congestion in the U.S.

Los Angeles is the most congested city in the U.S. and in the world, according to the report, with the average driver there spending 104 hours in peak-hours congestion each year. The city's congestion index score is rated at 18.6. INRIX notes that last year, Los Angeles voters approved a $120 billion ballot measure to expand public transit and improve highways there, in hopes of reducing time spent in traffic by 15 percent in the next 40 years.

The most congested single highway in the U.S. is far from California: I-95 westbound between I-278 and the Trans-Manhattan Expressway, in New York, is ranked first, with the average driver spending 86 hours in traffic there last year. The worst peak period on that road is in the afternoon, according to the report.

New York also has the worst traffic on arterials and city streets during off-peak hours, the report notes, while city streets in San Francisco are the worst in the country during rush hour.

Dealing with Congestion

Traffic is a good sign in a way, INRIX notes; increase traffic tends to be a side effect of economic growth and increased employment. But time spent in traffic has an adverse effect on business, driving up costs of goods and services.

“The demand for driving is expected to continue to rise, while the supply of roadway will remain flat,” said Bob Prishue, senior economist at INRIX. “Using big data and technology to improve operations of existing roadways offers a more immediate impact on traffic flows and mobility while transportation officials explore strategic capital investments.”

INRIX says its analysts used data from 300 million sources, covering more than 5 million miles of road, to create the new report. While INRIX does not proffer specific solutions to the congestion problem, the firm says its data could be used by governments as a benchmark to measure the progress of traffic-reduction projects.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Latin America; Mass transit; North America; Program/Project Management; Public Transit; Roads/Highways

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