KIRKLAND, Wash. – Los Angeles often gets slammed for its traffic congestion, and apparently for good reason.
The City of Angels, where the average motorist spent 102 hours stuck in traffic in 2017, topped the list of the world’s most congested cities for the sixth straight year in the Global Traffic Scorecard prepared by transportation analytics firm INRIX Inc.
Peak-time gridlock in Los Angeles costing drivers $2,828 each and the city $19.2 billion from direct and indirect costs, the firm found in a review of 1,360 cities across 38 countries.
Other U.S. cities in the top 10 included New York City, which tied Moscow for the second spot (with drivers stuck in traffic 91 hours); San Francisco in fifth place (79 hours); Atlanta in eighth place (70 hours); and Miami in the 10th spot (64 hours).
Of the top 25 cities with the worst congestion, the United States accounted for 10. Rounding out the top 10 most congested U.S. cities were Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Seattle and Dallas.
Overall, the U.S. ranked as the most congested developed country in the world, with drivers spending an average of 41 hours a year in traffic during peak hours, costing drivers nearly $305 billion in 2017, an average of $1,445 per driver.
Direct costs relate to the value of fuel and time wasted, and indirect costs refer to freight and business fees from company vehicles idling in traffic, which are passed on to households through higher prices.
Despite the high costs of congestion in Los Angeles and other cities, American drivers, in general, had it easier than their German counterparts. At $1,770, congestion cost the average German driver 57 percent more than an American, after adjusting for exchange rates and the cost of living.
Detroit had the lowest cost of congestion among the top 25 U.S. cities, at $1,256 per driver, and ranked among the bottom in all three categories of costs: commuting, business and leisure/other.
“Congestion costs the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars, and threatens future economic growth and lowers our quality of life,” said Dr. Graham Cookson, Chief Economist at INRIX. “If we’re to avoid traffic congestion becoming a further drain on our economy, we must invest in intelligent transportation systems to tackle our mobility challenges.”
The scorecard found that both New York and San Francisco, the second- and third-ranked cities in North America, have a similar average congestion rate as Los Angeles (13 percent), but show different commute patterns.
San Francisco, for example, had the highest congestion rate (tied with Boston) on arterial and city streets during the peak commute hours, while New York holds the top spot during the daytime.
New York’s Cross Bronx Expressway topped the list as the U.S.’s worst corridor for the third year in a row, with the average driver wasting 118 hours per year.
The most improved U.S. city was South Bend, Ind., with a 25 percent reduction in peak hours spent in congestion since 2016. Several Texas cities also saw significant improvement, including El Paso (-13 percent), Austin (-9 percent) and Dallas (-9 percent).
A different study found that for the third successive year, Atlanta’s five-level stack interchange known as “Spaghetti Junction,” where Interstates 285 and 85 north intersect, is again the most congested freight bottleneck in the nation.
The American Transportation Research Institute conducted the study.
Here is a list of the top 10 most congested cities in the world:
- Los Angeles
- Moscow (tie)
- New York City (tie)
- Sao Paulo, Brazil
- San Francisco
- Bogota, Colombia