The Texas Transportation Institute released their latest figures
September 30, 2003 2:36 PM   Subscribe

The Texas Transportation Institute released their latest figures on which cities are the most congested, and how many hours per year the average person spends in traffic. Or you can read The Big Picture. I find it amazing that New York City isn't in the top 25 cities. The reason being is that New York City has an excellent public transportation network. Even some Politians are realizing that public transportation is a better bang for the buck.
posted by LinemanBear (20 comments total)
I'm not surprised to find DC at #5. We have a good public transportation system here in the city, but the system doesn't serve the vast outlying suburbs very well. I walk to work now, but I commuted for several years, so I can attest to the nasty beltway traffic. I hope to never go back to driving to work!
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:44 PM on September 30, 2003

URL on "Big Picture" has an extra "http:". And it's a pdf.

As far as the topic goes: I embody the future. I work in a suburb, but housing is unaffordable there, so I live in an outer subrub.
posted by goethean at 2:54 PM on September 30, 2003

We have public transportation here in Phoenix, but this area is so spread out, that it's not really an option for those of us living in the suburbs. Riding the bus 25-30 miles to work is going to take a LOT longer than driving. Also, most of the population who can afford vehicles are not going to voluntarily wait in 110+ degree heat for buses or trains.
posted by Fantt at 2:56 PM on September 30, 2003

Anyone who's ever driven in NYC knows the real reason there's reasonably good traffic flow; it can be summed up in two words:

Timed Lights.

Get on Broadway somewhere up in Harlem at 2 in the morning, and with steady driving can hit 40 blocks of green lights easily. There's nothing quite as magical as watching block upon block of red lights turn green in synchronization.

Oh, and decent public transportation. That's cool, too.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:05 PM on September 30, 2003

Chicago has great public transportation within the city. If you are going from the suburbs to the city, there is good transportation. But if you are going from the city to the suburbs, or especially traveling between suburbs (most of the job growth is in the suburbs, especially outlying suburbs), your public transportation options are pretty limited.
posted by SisterHavana at 3:07 PM on September 30, 2003

i find it hard to believe that nyc isn't in the top 5, forget about 25. in the three years i've had my car (err....leased car up in 6 weeks yippppeeee!!) there's three general rules i try to adhere to:

1: don't even think about the river crossings from 6-9am and 5-7pm.....that's all river crossings.

2: if rule 1 can't be avoided be sure to know all the local roads and side roads in will save you a lot of time....there's always another way to go around here.

3: avoid the cross bronx expressway at all costs....any time of the day.

that said i'll be happy to finally ditch the ride....parking can be just as frustrating as the traffic.

on another note....i've always been awed by the way traffic engineers have handled the timing of traffic lights in nyc and surronding areas. every single light works with eachother. sometimes traffic lights miles away from the trouble intersection/entry point can relieve and ease traffic.

err....i see c_d took care of that on preview.
posted by oliver_crunk at 3:09 PM on September 30, 2003

Until I was laid off on Friday, I was using public transportation in Houston and it was great! I had to drive maybe 15 minutes to the park & ride and then it was 45 minutes to an hour on the bus (Katy to the Medical Center). On days that I had to drive, my commute was easily two hours each way. Yuck.
posted by moosedogtoo at 3:25 PM on September 30, 2003

Denver is about to start a campaign to "market and brand" itself. My proposed new slogan: "Denver: the Worst Traffic Outside of California!"
posted by Shoeburyness at 3:40 PM on September 30, 2003

Heh. I live in the most congested city in the country, and have the shortest commute of my entire life -- 12 minutes if I walk, 2 minutes if I drive. I love L.A.!
posted by scody at 3:41 PM on September 30, 2003

I'd make a crack about Boston, but they're all so obvious. I heart my T pass.
posted by swerve at 3:51 PM on September 30, 2003

how's the traffic in portland? curious as i'm considering moving there.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 4:19 PM on September 30, 2003

San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and Washington DC all have excellent public transportation, yet come in at 2, 3, 4, 5 on the worst traffic list respectively.
posted by 4easypayments at 4:40 PM on September 30, 2003

As a resident of LA, I find the title of the study somewhat amusing. Shouldn't it have read "Urban Immobility Study"?
posted by Slothrup at 4:43 PM on September 30, 2003

NYC may not be in the top 25, but it's still pretty bad. Especially outside of the island of manhattan, in places like Queens where things are relatively far apart and most people won't wait 40 minutes for a bus.

There are enough people in this city with so many cars that you can get on the LIE during business hours, when you'd think everybody should be at work, and still sit in traffic.

Also, EVERYTHING is underconstruction indefinetly.
posted by tomorama at 5:05 PM on September 30, 2003

um... 4easypayments... The order they are listed isn't the ranking. Apparently they are listed in order of size. The top five are L.A., Bay Area, Denver, Miami, and Phoenix.
posted by Shoeburyness at 5:10 PM on September 30, 2003

how's the traffic in portland? curious as i'm considering moving there.

Portlanders rubberneck like that guy from the fantastic four. And they can't merge.

Stop and Go Science.
posted by eddydamascene at 5:17 PM on September 30, 2003

I was in Mexico City last week. I'm no longer complaining about the my commute in Austin.
posted by birdherder at 5:36 PM on September 30, 2003

One interesting phenomenon is the unexplained traffic stoppage on a freeway. Seen from the air, this is a bolus of stopped cars with no proximate cause.

The cause, it turns out, may have been some time earlier, but a standing wave of stopped cars can persist long after the reason for it has gone. People stop and the stopped cars pile up behind them. The people in front go on, but cars approaching the blockage from the rear still have to stop. In this way the stoppage can persist, self-reinforcing, for an hour or more.

The main cause of these minijams and their unreasonable longevity is tailgating, and an unwillingness to drive at a steady speed. If instead of gluing themselves to the bumper of the car in front of them and having to react suddenly to speed changes, people would try to keep a steady speed, changing only slowly to accommodate fluctuations in overall traffic speed, this results in a variable gap between themselves and the car ahead: one which grows and shrinks as the cars in front of them speed up and slow down. This tends to iron out these standing waves and makes things much smoother for the people behind them.

But it's hard, partly because if you try keep a gap for this purpose, some berserk, self-defeating fool blasts in front of you and tailgates like a motherfuck. Still, I've seen it work, and more people seem to be catching on and doing it. It's sheer bliss when it works, and dense traffic moves briskly along at a steady pace.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:48 PM on September 30, 2003

I've driven all over the country and there is nothing like the intensity of East Coast driving. Lots of lane hopping, passing on right, speed up/down, breaking, passing on shoulder, congestion, etc.. Denver may have heavy traffic but it doesn't have Boston or NY or Washington attitude.
posted by stbalbach at 5:49 PM on September 30, 2003

Wow. From the third link: Every mile, on average, of urban freeway costs $47 million; on average, a mile of urban light rail costs about $26 million and moves three times as many people. ...

I work with a woman who is driven to work by her husband. Then he drives home. He drives down at night, picks her up and drives her home. From outer suburb to the downtown core; our workplace is a ten minute walk from the metro station.

Driving and parking add up to four grand a year. Aiee.
posted by philfromhavelock at 6:10 PM on September 30, 2003

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