Traffic congestion dropped off 30% in 2011 INRIX says - weak economy, higher gas prices

May 21, 2012

2012-05-21 21:30: 2011 saw a dramatic drop in traffic congestion in the US - 30% fewer hours wasted in congested traffic according to INRIX, the nation's leading provider of traffic data. The 2011 improvement is only outmatched in the years since INRIX has been measuring congestion by the financial crisis year of 2008, when congestion dropped 34%. In 2009 congestion was up 1% and 2010 saw a 10% regrowth of congestion.

But now we learn 2011 saw congestion drop again, and well below 2008 levels.

In a press statement the Seattle area based company says the decline in congestion is attributable to the "'Stop-'N'-Go Economy' where lack of employment combined with high fuel prices is keeping Americans off the roads."

Bryan Mistele INRIX chief executive: "The economic recovery on Wall Street has not arrived on Main Street.  Americans are driving less and spending less fueled by gas prices and a largely jobless recovery."

Congestion is most acute in large metro areas, and INRIX notes that last year, only 890,000 of the 2.6 million new jobs were in large urban centers. The biggest reduction in congestion has been in the cities' with the largest job losses.

Says INRIX statement: "Lack of employment combined with high fuel prices is clearly driving the decline in traffic."

INRIX "Top 10 Worst US Traffic Cities" are with hours wasted:

1. Honolulu: 58 hours

2. Los Angeles: 56 hours

3. San Francisco: 48  hours

4. New York: 57 hours

5. Bridgeport, CT: 42 hours

6. Washington, DC: 42 hours

7. Seattle: 33 hours

8. Austin:  30 hours

9. Boston: 35 hours

10. Chicago 36 hours

Thursday 5:30 to 6pm is the time slot with the worst congestion in most major US metro areas.

Top ten worst all tax-financed, no tollroads

None of the most congested highways are tollroads.

INRIX lists the Top 10 Worst US Traffic Corridors out of the 162 corridors of at least three miles in length that experience heavy traffic congestion every day:

1. 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 33 minutes on average, with 20 minutes of delay.

2. New York:  A 16-mile stretch of the Long Island Expy/I-495 EB from the Maurice Ave. exit to Minneola Ave./Willis Ave. exit that takes 39 minutes on average, with 22 minutes of delay.

3. 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 35 minutes on average, with 20 minutes of delay.

4. New York:  An intense three-mile stretch of I-678 NB (Van Wyck Expy) from Belt Pkwy to Main St. that takes 13 minutes on average, with 10 minutes of delay.

5. Los Angeles: A 17.5-mile stretch of I-5 SB (Santa Ana/Golden St Fwys) from E. Caesar Chavez Ave to Valley View Ave. exits that takes 40 minutes on average, with 22 minutes of delay.

6. 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 31 minutes on average, with 18 minutes of delay.

7. Los Angeles:  An eight-mile stretch of I-405 SB (San Diego Fwy) from Nordhoff St. to Mulholland Dr. that takes 22 minutes on average, with 14 minutes of delay.

8. New York: A six-mile stretch of the I-678 SB (Van Wyck Expy) from Horace Harding Expy to Linden Blvd that takes 20 minutes on average, with 13 minutes of delay.

9. Pittsburgh:  An intense three-mile stretch of Penn Lincoln Pkwy/I-376 EB from Lydia St. to the US-19 TK RT/PA-51 exit that takes 13 minutes on average with nine minutes of delay in the morning peak period.

10. San Francisco: An 11-mile stretch of the CA-4 EB (California Delta Hwy) from Bailey Rd to Somersville Rd. that takes 16 minutes on average, with 11 minutes of delay.

INRIX says its reporting is based on analysis of billions of raw data points from INRIX's historical traffic database of about 100 million vehicles traveling the roads everyday including taxis, airport shuttles, service delivery vans, long haul trucks and passenger cars.  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.

The detailed report should be available May 22 at:

methodology for the INRIX report:


COMMENT: President Obama has a concrete accomplishment here on which to run for re-election. Campaign slogan: "I got 30% of the bums off your road." Promise: "Re-elect me for another term and I'll finish the job."

TOLLROADSnews 2012-05-21

EXTRA May 22: INRIX explain that the 30% reduction in congestion is based on US INRIX Index (II), a key indicator of traffic congestion, was 5.9 in 2011, down 30% from 2010 (8.4) based on the delays in the average trip in the nation's "Top 100 Most Populated Cities." In 2010 the trip took 8.4% longer than if there was no traffic congestion whereas in 2011 it took 5.9% longer than if there was no traffic congestion.

They also report that in 2011, only 30 metropolitan areas saw increased congestion vs. 2010. With the remaining 70 metros experiencing declines or no change in traffic, the picture of traffic congestion is the exact opposite of 2010 where 70 regions saw increases in congestion compared to the prior year.

They say: "All congestion is not created equal: The nation's worst travel corridors can cost their drivers more than 60 hours of annual delay in the evening peak period alone. Over 1,400 miles of our nation's main corridors were congested last year, down from 2,300 miles in 2010. When examined with employment and fuel price data from 2011, the Scorecard shows how observed shifts in traffic congestion serve as a key indicator of economic health."

TOLLROADSnews addition 2012-05-22 13:00

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