Traffic Congestion Costs $166 Billion a Year

Time is money and when it comes to the amount of time commuters and transporters waste sitting in traffic each year – about $166 billion in the U.S., according to Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s recently published 2019 Urban Mobility report.

The study finds the urban gridlock issue has only been getting worse each year since 1982, the first year with official data on the subject.

In its report, TTI also lists ways that congestion can be addressed. The group advocates for more of everything, roads, transit, squeezing as much efficiency out of the existing system as possible, reducing demand through telework, better balancing demand and roadway capacity by adjusting work hours, and smarter land use. But TTI also admitted that there is no silver bullet when fixing the nationwide problem.

“No single approach will ever solve this complex problem,” says Tim Lomax, a report author and Regents Fellow at TTI. “We know what works. What the country needs is a robust, information-powered conversation at the local, state and national levels about what steps should be taken. We have many strategies; we have to figure out the right solution for each problem and a way to pay for them.”

The problem also affects manufactures, carriers and shippers and those delays are also passed on to the consumer.  While commercial trucks make up only 7% of road traffic, they account for 12% of congestion cost, according to TTI.

“Those minutes don’t sound like much, but they add up quickly over a year,” said Schrank “Eventually, we’re talking billions of wasted hours, and the cost of delay at that scale is just enormous.”

The 2019 Urban Mobility Report, which examines conditions in 494 urban areas in every state and Puerto Rico, is available online.

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