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Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Survey: Honolulu Traffic Gets 18% Worse
By News Release @ 7:56 PM :: 5951 Views :: Hawaii Statistics, Rail

INRIX National Traffic Scorecard Annual Report

Key Findings -- Introduction

News Release from INRIX

Since its groundbreaking first publication in 2007, the INRIX National Traffic Scorecard Annual Report has analyzed and compared the status of traffic congestion in countries and major metropolitan areas worldwide. Used by regional departments of transportation, academics, the media, city planners, economists and everyday drivers, the INRIX Scorecard has become the trusted benchmark for understanding congestion and the impact of traffic in our daily lives.

After 7 years of modest congestion through the Great Recession, this 2013 Annual Report documents that we're back on the road to gridlock. The data tells us congestion is on its way back, even with only modest urban area economic and job growth. And traffic is particularly worst in areas and specific locations where congestion levels remained elevated even at the deepest depths of the recession. Simply put, it appears that congestion in 2013 acted like a magnet ‐ where it existed, it had a tendency to attract disproportionately more of it. This applies to both regions and specific roadways, where sharp increases in congestion were recorded even though we're only just now emerging from the Great Recession.

What remains uncertain is how we avoid traffic congestion shifting from an indicator of economic health to an inhibitor to economic growth. Of the cities analyzed in the report, those with the biggest increases in employment and GDP generally experienced the biggest increases in traffic congestion. As we reach the 5 year mark since the start of the global recession, people increasingly are moving to where the jobs are. With just over half of the world's population lives in urban centers today, the UN predicts that 7 of every 10 people will be living in an urban center by 2050. Recently, Executive Chairman of the Ford Motor Company, Bill Ford Jr. said the number of vehicles on the word's roads will grow from 1 billion today to 4 billion in the same period of time. With traffic congestion increasing at 3x the rate of employment, 10‐day long traffic jams like we've seen in China and the 2-3 hour daily commutes that are part of daily life for people in Sao Paolo Brazil today could become the reality for drivers in Europe and North America in the not so distant future.

In summary, the data paints a picture of a global economy turning the corner back toward prosperity where increases in traffic congestion not only provide a barometer of our economic recovery but drains the economy costing individuals and businesses money that could be better spent.

Key Scorecard Findings Globally:

  • Traffic is back on the rise in 2013, even in countries showing continued declines. Traffic congestion was up in six of the 15 countries analyzed: the U.S., UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Italy compared to only one country in 2012 (Luxembourg). Traffic congestion was up in 105 of the 194 cities analyzed.
  • Traffic congestion in Europe rose for the first time in 2 years. In the second, third and fourth quarters of 2013 traffic congestion rose 6 percent, a potential signal that Europe's economy is on the rebound. In Europe, traffic congestion was up in 5 of the 13 countries analyzed and 43 of the 94 cities last year compared to only one country (Luxembourg) and 3 cities (Geneva, Luxembourg and Caligari) in 2012.
  • As GDP goes up, MPH goes down. Nations and metropolitan areas experiencing economic growth and employment generally recorded increases in traffic congestion. Conversely, economies struggling with high unemployment and low or negative growth in 2013 typically recorded lower traffic congestion than in 2012. Aside from Italy, all of the countries with increases in traffic congestion also had growing economies in 2013 (The U.S., Swiss and British economies all grew by 1.9%, Ireland by 1.3%). Conversely, Spain's economy contracted by 1.2% and Portugal recorded record unemployment last year resulting in some of the biggest drops in traffic congestion among the countries analyzed (down 30% and 45% respectively).
    Like the improving economic outlook in the U.S., the general trend is the countries showing increased congestion have a positive economic outlook, while those economies still struggling are still experiencing declines. Even though many still had drops, the rate of decline was down 18% compared to 2012.

North America

  • Despite the economic ups and downs of 2012, INRIX reports that congestion back on the rise in 2013 ‐ congestion was up for 7 consecutive months from January through July 2013 indicating after 2012's rollercoaster, a slowly improving economy.
  • Traffic congestion was up 6 percent in 2013 with the average driver in America's Ten Worst Traffic Cities wasting on average 47 hours in traffic (up from 42 hours in 2012) ‐ that's more than a week's vacation time.
  • In 2013, 61 U.S. metro areas saw increased traffic congestion, a big shift from 2012 where only six cities experienced increases.
  • The Top 10 Worst Cities for Traffic in America in 2013, along with total annual hours wasted in traffic, were:
  1. Los Angeles (64 hours, up 5 hours from 2012)
  2. Honolulu (60 hours, up 10 hours from 2012)
  3. San Francisco (56 hours, up 7 hours from 2012)
  4. Austin (41 hours, up 3 hours from 2012)
  5. New York (53 hours, up 3 hours from 2012)
  6. Bridgeport (42 hours, up 3 hours from 2012)
  7. San Jose (35 hours, up 4 hours from 2012)
  8. Seattle (37 hours, up 2 hours from 2012)
  9. Boston (38 hours, up 7 hours from 2012)
  10. Washington, D.C. (40 hours, down 1 hour from 2012)

Among the 2013 Top 10 Worst Cities for Traffic in America, nine of them have experienced increases in 2013 compared to last year. The largest increase was in Boston (+22%), likely a result of the Boston metropolitan area experiencing employment growth in line with the national average just over 2 percent (2.1%) The only city showing a decline was Washington D.C. which likely was attributed to cuts in government spending and hiring (‐.1%) from sequester.

1. Los Angeles (+8.5%) 3. San Francisco (+13%)
2. Honolulu (+18%) 4. Austin (+9%)
5. New York (+5%) 8. Seattle (7%)
6. Bridgeport (+9%) 9. Boston (+22%)
7. San Jose (+10%) 10. Washington, D.C. (‐1%)
  • Cities at or above the national averages in employment growth (nearly 2.2%) and GDP (1.7%) like Austin (2.8%, 3.4%), San Jose (3.4%, 3.33%),Seattle (2.6%, 2.5%) and Boston (2.1%, 1.7%) experienced some of the biggest increases in traffic congestion. Additionally, these cities also experienced some of the largest increases in population in the last year as people moved to these urban centers in search of work ‐ Austin 6.6%, San Jose (3.9%), Seattle (4.25%), Boston (3%)
  • Cities that experienced some of the biggest drops in traffic congestion also were consistent to those where employment and economic growth were lagging compared to the national average including Youngstown (‐.1%, ‐.9%), Albuquerque (.9%, .8%), Scranton (‐.8%, .3%), Toledo (‐.2%, .5%), Allentown (1.1%, 1.7%) and Washington D.C. (‐.1% .6%). Cities experiencing declines in traffic congestion also include those with less diverse economies dependent on weaker manufacturing and government sectors including Youngstown, Albuquerque, Scranton, Sacramento, Toledo, Akron, Allentown and Washington D.C.
  • At the same time, total employment in the U.S. increased by nearly 2.2 million jobs in 2013 consistent with 2012 (nearly 2.3 million) but still below 2007 levels before the recession. When employment returns to 2007 levels, 2 MILLION more daily commute trips than current levels will need to be accommodated, further stressing America's urban highway network.
  • Traffic congestion was up every month of the year except for August (‐2.7%). The U.S. created a modest 169,000 jobs in August compounded by an additional 312,000 people dropping out of the labor force.
  • Los Angeles retained its position as America's worst traffic city with drivers surpassing 60 hours wasted annually in gridlock. This increase is largely attributed to the fact that Los Angeles County experienced the fastest year-over-year growth in employment since the recession began in 2007. The Los Angeles area's freeway system is more congested than that of any other city in the United States, U.K., France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, by all measures.
  • Not all congestion is created equal. In 2013, the Top 10 worst travel corridors in the U.S. cost their drivers 5 days a year on average in gridlock ‐ almost 3 times the national average.
  • Analysis of the day and hour for traffic showed Tuesday's from 8:00‐9:00 AM to be the busiest morning commute, and Friday between 5:00‐6:00 PM to be the busiest evening commute hour, where the average trip took 12 percent longer due to traffic.
  • In 2013, the nation's INRIX Index was 7.0. This means that during the morning and evening rush hour peak periods, travel times were on average 7 percent longer in the U.S. due to traffic congestion. This number represents a 6.1 percent increase from 2012's 6.6, still 40 percent lower than 2007's record for delays (13.3).

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