The recently released 2009 Urban Mobility Report published by the Texas Transportation Institute tracks a quarter century of traffic patterns in 439 U.S. urban areas from 1982 through 2007. The report was prepared by researchers David Schrank and Tim Lomax.
According to the report, travelers spent one hour less stuck in traffic in 2007 than they did in 2006 and wasted one gallon less gasoline than the year before. The differences, though small, point to a break in near-constant growth in traffic over 25 years.
Other highlights from the research illustrate the effects of the nation's traffic problems.
- The overall cost (based on wasted fuel and lost productivity) reached $87.2 billion in 2007 - more than $750 for every U.S. traveler.
- The total amount of wasted fuel topped 2.8 billion gallons - three weeks' worth of gas for every traveler.
- The amount of wasted time totaled 4.2 billion hours - nearly one full work week (or vacation week) for every traveler.
Researchers recommend a balanced and diversified approach to reducing traffic congestion - one that focuses on more of everything. Their strategies include:
- Get as much use as possible out of the transportation system we have.
- Add roadway and public transportation capacity in the places where it is needed most.
- Change our patterns, employing ideas like ridesharing and flexible work times to avoid traditional "rush hours."
- Provide more choices, such as alternate routes, telecommuting and toll lanes for faster and more reliable trips.
- Diversify land development patterns, to make walking, biking and mass transit more practical.
- Adopt realistic expectations, recognizing for instance that large urban areas are going to be congested, but they don't have to stay that way all day long.
The Texas Transportation Institute, founded in 1950, is an agency of the Texas A&M University System.
To view the full report, visit http://mobility.tamu.edu.