HOUSTON (KIAH/WKRN) – Research has been released on cities with the worst traffic in 2020, and the pandemic led to some major changes in the data.
You may expect Los Angeles to seize the title since the L.A.-Long Beach-Anaheim region held it for nearly 30 years — since 1982 — but the 2021 Urban Mobility Report found that a new city has taken the No. 1 spot for the area with the worst traffic in 2020.
The New York-Newark area topped the list, with the average driver wasting 56 hours in traffic last year. The rankings are based on the total number of hours motorists were delayed.
Boston was second at 50 hours, followed by Houston at 49 hours. L.A. and San Francisco tied for fourth at 46 hours each.
For cities with less than 3 million people, Austin was first at 41 hours delayed. For 1 million or less, Bridgeport, Connecticut, topped the list at 40 hours.
According to the report, traffic congestion eased dramatically during the height of the pandemic, with levels dipping to 40-year lows. For instance, it was the first time since 1991 that Nashville drivers were delayed by only 28 hours in traffic. In 2019, Nashville drivers wasted nearly double that, with 66 hours spent in traffic.
“Flexible work hours and reliable internet connections allow employees to choose work schedules that are beneficial for meeting family needs and the needs of their jobs,” said report co-author David Schrank. “And it also reduces the demand for roadway space, which is beneficial for the rest of us.”
Travel levels have started building back up again as of around September 2020.
Additionally, the root causes of traffic congestion didn’t change, the report’s authors said.
“The underlying elements of traffic problems — too many car trips, too much rush-hour roadwork, crashes, stalled vehicles and weather issues — have not receded,” said Tim Lomax, one of the report’s authors. “What’s different is that those elements have been eclipsed by plummeting traffic volume.”
The study also found that 2021 is already seeing the fastest rise in traffic since 1982, the first year the report recorded traffic statistics.