Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Worst Commutes In the US

The Daily Beast has the 75 worst commutes in the US, and some of them are truly beastly. In the New York metro area, the Cross Bronx Expressway rings in at number six, while the I-95 stretch in Bridgeport comes in at eight. That's it for the NYC metro area, which strikes me as odd given that news reports consistently put traffic jams on the Gowanus/Brooklyn Queens Expressway, the Long Island Expressway, and the approach roads to the Lincoln Tunnel as daily traffic nightmares.

What this list seems to do is show bad commutes on roads that can have clear running times, as opposed to those that are almost always jammed based on the methodologies used:
Our first step was ranking the metropolitan areas with the worst rush-hour congestion. The order is based on the peak hour Travel Time Index (TTI) for the metropolitan area each highway is in. TTI is a measure of how much longer it takes to complete a road journey during peak congestion hours compared to free-flow hours. (Peak hours are defined as 6 a.m. to 10a.m., and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) Speeds during non-peak hours are used by INRIX to establish this free-flow baseline.

After determining the 75 worst metro areas, we then found the worst highway in each, defined as the most hours of bottleneck congestion, as reported by INRIX. The rankings then provide a still deeper look—the worst segment listed for the worst segment listed for the worst highway in each area.
So, which made the worst commute in the nation? That would be the Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles, which had 686 weekly hours of bottleneck congestion.

Building more lanes isn't going to solve the problems in most areas, since they've already tried that approach. Mass transit doesn't work unless the densities are there and the routes go from where people live to where they work on a sufficient schedule. Telecommuting isn't always an option, particularly for retail and service oriented businesses where face time is critical. Flexible work schedules might spread out the commutes over a wider time, but that has often resulted in more congestion for longer times during the day.

There are no easy answers to this vexing problem.

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