The Texas Transportation Institute is scheduled to release its annual congestion survey tomorrow. If history holds true, the Los Angeles area will likely rank as of the most congested traffic areas in the United States, as measured by the TTI.
As regular readers know, there are all sorts of ways of ranking traffic congestion and commuting these days. And it seems like a new ranking comes out every week. I’m not sure most of them tell us anything that isn’t glaringly obvious to anyone who is alive: 1) we live in a giant, six-county (I include San Diego County) metro area with about 20 million people, many of whom have cars, and; 2) Southern California, generally speaking, didn’t start building a modern transit system until the late 20th century, meaning we’re in catch-up mode and a lot of people drive.
As it happens, the U.S. Census Bureau last week burped out some commuting data that tells a somewhat different story. Most of the media (rightly, me thinks) focused on the time it takes commuters to get to work. In the L.A. metro area as measured by the Census Bureau, we came in 17th place with an average of 28.1 minutes — a lot less than some metro areas with robust transit systems. If looking at sprawling L.A. County alone, we’re at 29 minutes, a slight reduction from the 29.4 minutes measured in the 2000 Census. The difference probably is explained in part by the current recession and high unemployment numbers.
The results are interesting: A decrease in carpooling looks to have resulted in more people driving alone — perhaps one explanation is that’s a result of increasing congestion in carpool lanes, leading fewer people to take them.
There’s also a slight uptick in people taking transit, cycling and working at home — perhaps due to more and better internet tools and company flexibility. As for the transit side of things, in 2000 there was still no subway service to the San Fernando Valley, no Gold Line and no Orange Line.
More Census Bureau charts are after the jump.
No surprise here — the Eastern Seaboard cities with old transit systems and Chicago and San Francisco had the most workers riding transit. But L.A. is certainly ahead most of the rest of the country.
Pretty good results for Los Angeles County here, with room for improvement for sure. I think it will be interesting to see these numbers after the Westside Subway Extension, Regional Connector, Gold Line Foothill Extension, Expo Line and Crenshaw/LAX Line open.
I think this shows where the nation has been investing its transportation dollars: the highways. Plus cars and gas remain very affordable and desirable to the masses.
Not a happy chart for those in the transit industry! Time-wise, transit is taking longer as a whole than other ways to get to work. I think this speaks to the above point: as a nation we’re not investing enough in new, modern and fast transit systems.