Los Angeles. That’s according to a new survey by Inrix, which provides traffic and navigation services and produces a biannual traffic scorecard.
But there’s good news — or was good news — even for Angelinos who dread their morning commute. Gridlock reached its low point in the second quarter of 2009, thanks to the recession.
Unfortunately, it’s started to rebound again.
Here’s the Inrix list of most congested cities:
1. Los Angeles
2. New York
7. San Francisco
I’ve lived in almost all of these cities, and my first reaction to this list was, duh.
But digging into the data reveals some interesting trends.
Traffic congestion across the country is rising due to signs of economic recovery, initial rollouts of highway construction projects funded by federal stimulus packages, and lower fuel prices.
In fact, 64 of the top 100 most populated cities in the U.S. experienced increases in traffic congestion levels in early 2009.
An especially interesting nugget from the scorecard showed that Las Vegas experienced the biggest increase (2.4%) in travel times during peak commute periods year-over-year, most likely due to major construction along I-15 that began in the Summer of 2008. Other noteworthy increases include Baton Rouge (1.9%) – which was the only region that experienced travel time increases in 2008 – and Washington, DC (1.8%) – seemingly unaffected by the nation’s economic turmoil of the past year.
Cities with the largest decrease in travel times include Ogden, Utah (-5.6 percent), Bridgeport, Conn. (-4.5 percent), San Francisco (-2.8 percent), San Diego (-2.7 percent) and Chicago (-2.7 percent).
Reasons for the drops in each region vary, for example, the completion of a major road construction project in late 2008 and improved winter weather in 2009 contributed to Ogden’s decrease, and softer economic conditions hit Chicago, where unemployment surpassed 11% in June 2009.
It’s not all bad news, according to Bryan Mistele, Inrix’ president.
Traffic is a great indicator of the pulse of the economy and as the economy improves we expect gridlock to head towards 2007’s record levels as people return to work, freight transportation increases, and consumers switch back to vacations from staycations.
Bad traffic = good economy? I don’t know. I think some of us would prefer a bad economy and good traffic.
But I digress.
(Photo: PJM/Flickr Creative Commons)