A new study from the Texas Transportation Institute reveals that traffic is bad and getting worse. Driving to work takes longer, the amount of the day affected by congestion has increased, more rural areas are affected and it is now harder to gauge travel times on the road. The overall consequence is enormous time and fuel wasted, not to mention the mind-deadening effects of gridlock.
Traffic congestion continues to worsen in American cities of all sizes, creating a $78 billion annual drain on the U.S. economy in the form of 4.2 billion lost hours and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel–that's 105 million weeks of vacation and 58 fully-loaded supertankers. [Press Release: Annual study shows traffic congestion worsening in cities large and small Texas Traffic Institute]
Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles continues to have the worst roadway crowding, where the average driver lost 72 hours annually in rush hour traffic in 2005, an increase of 20 hours over 1985.
Road overpopulation is not recognized as such, namely as the expected result of increasing numbers of people and cars cramming onto limited streets and highways. Instead, the problem is approached symptomatically, often with the philosophy of irritation, hoping to shoo off undesired drivers with costs and impediments. New York's Mayor Bloomburg is considering a plan to charge drivers a fee to enter the busiest parts of Manhattan. San Francisco is mulling a similar idea.
Now if only Washington could be convinced to increase irritation at the border...