Local drivers lost 42 hours stuck in traffic last year, report finds
SAN DIEGO — San Diegans spent an average of 42 hours stuck in traffic last year, but things were worse in other large U.S. metropolitan areas, according to a report released Wednesday.
According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, compiled by Texas A&M University and Kirkland, Washington-based traffic data firm Inrix, San Diego commuters lost less time to traffic congestion last year than residents in the 14 other regions with a population of at least 3 million. The time-lost ranking was 43rd among all the urban areas studied.
The five worst major metropolitan areas for traffic congestion were Washington, D.C, 82 hours; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, 80 hours; San Francisco-Oakland, 78 hours; New York-Newark, 74 hours; and Boston, 64 hours.
Since time is money, the report also listed the economic cost of the wasted hours and excess fuel consumed by vehicles. San Diego ranked 61st overall at $887 annually.
Both the time lost idling in traffic and the financial cost were similar to results of past years in San Diego, according to Texas A&M’s data.
Traffic congestion nationally has returned to pre-recession levels, now that the economy has regained nearly all of the nine million jobs that were lost, the authors said.
Combined, Americans spent nearly seven billion extra hours in traffic, wasting three billion gallons of gas, with a time and fuel cost of $160 billion.
“Our growing traffic problem is too massive for any one entity to handle — state and local agencies can’t do it alone,” said Tim Lomax, a report co-author.
“Businesses can give their employees more flexibility in where, when and how they work; individual workers can adjust their commuting patterns; and we can have better thinking when it comes to long-term land use planning,” Lomax said. “This problem calls for a classic `all hands on deck’ approach.”
He said recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that Americans drove more than three trillion miles in the last 12 months, a new record that surpasses the 2007 peak just before the global financial crisis.
The report’s authors said the U.S. needs more roadway and transit investment to meet the demands of population growth and economic expansion, along with better operations, more transportation options and flexible work schedules.