New York City and Los Angeles are probably the top two cities that have a reputation for having “the worst traffic ever,” but it seems that neither of these metropolitan monsters can win against the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., for that coveted title of disdain.
A new study was just released by the Texas AandM Transportation Institute and Inrix, a travel data analysis company located in Kirkland, Washington, and the findings show that D.C. tops the list of worst rush hour traffic congestion in major U.S. cities.
As USA Today described it, “Rush hour congestion adds 82 hours of suffering each year to the average commute around Washington, D.C.”
Runners-up for the unofficial Worst Traffic Ever title include L.A., where the average commuter spends 80 hours stuck in traffic, San Francisco with 78 hours in traffic, and the Big Apple, with a mere 74 hours of highway suffering each year.
In total, WUSA 9 reported, American drivers lose a collective seven billion hours of time because of rush hour traffic congestion. This equals about 42 hours per driver, on average.
Not only does traffic congestion waste time, but it also wastes energy. The 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard found that approximately three billion gallons of fuel is wasted annually because of rush hour traffic, and the Washington Post reported that this results in monetary losses of $160 billion, minimum, each year.
Many cities have taken measures to widen highways, create new roads entirely, and provide incentives for commuters to take public transportation. Coach bus services, for example, are increasingly popular in big cities. They provide 206 passenger miles to the gallon, compared to the average single-passenger vehicle, which only gets about 27 passenger miles per gallon.
As the Washington Post reported, many Americans are supportive of public transportation services, while businesses have begun giving employees the option to work from home, thereby eliminating the commute to work entirely.
But for a city like D.C., where telecommuting isn’t always an option and where neighborhoods are simply too packed to allow for expanded roadways, analysts predict that traffic congestion is only going to get worse.
The silver lining here, the Post noted, is that this is a sign of a growing economy; rush hour gridlocks are a sign of higher employment rates. But as the workforce continues to grow, it’s clear that traffic congestion will have to be addressed — because even the politicians in Washington can’t waste too much time outside of the office, right?