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 America's Worst Traffic

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catbox_9
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PostSubject: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:00 pm

Commuters in these cities understand the meaning of ''traffic jam'' all too well.

Stefani Cole spends much of her day in traffic.

For two years, the 26-year-old marketing associate commuted from her home in Long Beach, Calif., to her job at a radio station in Burbank. The 40-mile drive takes about 45 minutes without traffic but averages between two to two-and-a-half hours during rush hour.

"I would try to get to the office early and work later so that I would miss the major traffic," says Cole. "But if there was a wreck or something, forget it. It was going to be bad no matter what."

In September 2008, Cole decided enough was enough. She packed her bags and moved to Burbank. She now lives just eight miles from work. Her commute, however, is still 25 to 30 minutes. That shouldn't have come as much surprise, since the roads of Los Angeles are the most congested in the country.

That was the case last year, and is again this year, according to Kirkland, Wash.-based research firm Inrix, which provides real-time, historical and predictive traffic information to television stations and other groups across the U.S.

Following L.A., to round out the top five, are New York, Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C.
Behind the Numbers

To determine America's Most Congested Cities, Inrix collects data from nearly 800,000 anonymous, GPS-equipped commercial vehicles that report their speed and location continually to Inrix. The company then processes and blends other relevant traffic-related data such as road sensors, toll tags, traffic-incident data and other resources to figure out when, why and for how long particular roads experience bottlenecking.

The worst hour for travel in Los Angeles, on average, is Thursday at 5 p.m. In New York, the second-worst city for congestion in the country, it's Friday at 5 p.m. Like L.A., Chicago and Washington are at their worst on Thursdays at 5 p.m., while Dallas, like New York, is most congested on Fridays at 5 p.m.

But the devil really isn't in the details; it's unsurprising that these cities come out on top when it comes to congestion. The top four spots on the list also have the largest populations in the country: Los Angeles--12.9 million; New York--18.8 million; Chicago--9.5 million; and Dallas--6.2 million.

What is surprising, however, is that every single city on our list of 20 saw a decrease in congestion over the 2008 calendar year. Some of the cities with the largest decreases in traffic include Riverside, Calif.--which saw congestion drop by 57% --and Detroit, where congestion was whittled by 47%.
Slow Economy, Faster Commutes

That has a lot to do with high gas prices and the recession. Since the recession has affected nearly every corner of the country, congestion is down across the board. Americans drove 3.8 billion fewer miles in December 2008 than they drove in December 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Even Los Angeles--a city known as well for its treacherous 10-lane highways as for its abundance of movie studios--felt some relief at the beginning of 2008, with congestion down 24% from 2007.

Riverside was hit incredibly hard by the subprime mortgage crisis--the median home price in the area has plummeted 55% over the last 18 months--meaning more of the city's residents were struggling to pay their bills. Filling up a gas tank is one of those expenses.

Detroit, of course, has been heavily affected by the fall of the U.S. auto industry. A lack of employment results in a lack of the need to drive.

"There was definitely a point last year when more people were carpooling and traffic died down a bit," says Cole. However, as gas prices have decreased (currently down to $1.99 a gallon at some stations in Los Angeles from $4.60 in June 2008), traffic has increased yet again. But regardless of how cheap gas is, job loss makes fueling up an expensive proposition.

"We're seeing economic impact across the board," says Scott Sedlik, vice president of marketing at Inrix. "Traffic is a great indicator in terms of keeping the pulse on [a city's] economy."

There are some cities, however, that have made a concerted effort to reduce congestion, independent of the economy. Atlanta, for example, saw a 36% decrease from 2007 to 2008 because of government-funded initiatives such as suburban park-and-rides. These allow those who live outside of the city's boundaries to park cheaply in a lot and take public transportation to the office.

Places like New York, however, are short on new options: Subways and buses are already filled to capacity. That's why officials like New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg are lobbying for a new "congestion" tax--which will require citizens to pay for the privilege of driving in crowded zones of Manhattan.

Congested as a city might get, however, it's not necessarily the sort of thing that pushes commuters to relocate altogether. Moving to another city costs money, and that's not something most people have a lot of right now. Even Cole, who moved closer to work because of her frustration with traffic, says she wouldn't give up on Los Angeles for an easier commute.

"I've lived in Southern California for eight years, and you just learn to manage it," she says. "Everyone works around the traffic."


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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:00 pm

So Los Angeles is the worst...I knew I wasn't crazy!


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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:51 pm

I was watching a show on WOW on demand


LA used to have a subway system like NY

But they abandoned it in favor of the freeway system today

Smooth Move!
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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:43 pm

Probably afraid an earthquake would cause a worse disaster with a subway system in place...
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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:45 pm

I hate traffic.
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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:46 pm

Fact o' life unless u work at home...Big Smile
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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:10 pm

Well the traffic around here isnt too bad normally.
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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:16 pm

laprimamirala wrote:
Probably afraid an earthquake would cause a worse disaster with a subway system in place...


Like LA expressways are Earthquake proof
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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:01 pm

Yeah, but you stand more of a chance of survival above ground!
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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:52 pm

gs78 wrote:
I was watching a show on WOW on demand


LA used to have a subway system like NY

But they abandoned it in favor of the freeway system today

Smooth Move!

Actually, LA does have a "subway". The problem is it only covers a small portion of downtown. Unlike most major cities, downtown LA is the worst part of the town. There is nothing there but slums, slums, the Staples Center, and more slums.

They constantly try and build a subway but the voters turn it down and instead spend the money on something stupid. Talk to Angelinos and they all vehemently oppose any form of public transportation since it's "gay" or "too slow" or something like that. Only morons use public transportation according to them.


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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:54 pm

laprimamirala wrote:
Probably afraid an earthquake would cause a worse disaster with a subway system in place...

And they get earthquakes that cause major damage what, every 50 years?

San Diego has a pseudo-subway. It works like a subway but it is above ground (or on the ground I should say...it isn't a monorail either). They call it the San Diego trolley. It works great. It isn't as neat as the real trolleys in San Francisco since cars are all subway cars, but it gets the job done.


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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:34 am

I guess when one comes, it won't be a little one.
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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:11 pm

I'll take my chances with earthquakes that come once every half century or so instead of hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.


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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:39 pm

Or a huge chance of getting hit by a North Korean missile?
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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:12 pm

catbox_9 wrote:
laprimamirala wrote:
Probably afraid an earthquake would cause a worse disaster with a subway system in place...

And they get earthquakes that cause major damage what, every 50 years?

San Diego has a pseudo-subway. It works like a subway but it is above ground (or on the ground I should say...it isn't a monorail either). They call it the San Diego trolley. It works great. It isn't as neat as the real trolleys in San Francisco since cars are all subway cars, but it gets the job done.


Subways are cool


Wish SE Michigan had them
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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:34 pm

At least Detroit has the People movers! They are cool.


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PostSubject: Re: America's Worst Traffic   Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:41 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
At least Detroit has the People movers! They are cool.


They are cool

Too bad they only go around a 3 mile radius of Downtown Detroit

Wish they extended into the suburbs
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