That comes via 4.2 billion lost hours and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel, according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2007 Urban Mobility Report. The report notes that congestion causes the average peak period traveler to spend an extra 38 hours of travel time (up from 14 hours in 1982) and consume an additional 26 gallons of fuel (compared with just 9 gallons in 1982), amounting to a cost of $710 per traveler.
The researchers noted, “The concept of “rush hour” definitely does not apply in areas with more than 1 million people.” Worst was the Los Angeles metropolitan area, where drivers spend an extra 72 hours a year on average stuck in traffic, while San Francisco-0akland, Washington, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland, and Atlanta were tied for the second most gridlocked areas. Drivers in those three areas spent an extra hour, on average, stuck during the peak commuting hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the study found.
However, things are getting worse all over apparently. The report found that traffic gridlock worsened in all 437 large, medium and small urban centers in 2005. In the last 20 years, travel has increased by 105 percent in metropolitan areas but road capacity — measured by freeways and major thoroughfares — has only risen 45 percent.
As for what causes congestion, as the researchers note, “In a word, “you.” But the 100 largest metropolitan regions do contribute 70% of the nation’s gross domestic product and have 69% of the jobs.
The Texas Transportation Institute is an arm of the Texas A&M University System in College Station, Texas.