INRIX, Inc., a transportation analytics firm that provides big data for city planners, has released its 2015 Traffic Scorecard, a benchmark for governments and agencies in the U.S. and Europe to measure progress in improving urban mobility.
The INRIX report shows how traffic can reflect the economic health of the country.
As the nation's economic growth strengthens and higher employment rates benefit citizens, those same positives create the negatives of more traffic congestion, higher emissions, reduced productivity and - yes - increased stress levels. INRIX says that although cities have invested in multimodal options, including public transportation, pedestrian programs and bicycle lanes, a strong economy often results in more drivers on the road.
For example, Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, Seattle and Boston all saw reduced unemployment rates bringing them below the national average of 5.3 percent for 2015. However, according to the INRIX Traffic Scorecard, congestion in those cities alone combined to waste 1.5 billion hours for daily car commuters last year. Nationwide, commuters spent a total of more than eight billion extra hours stuck in traffic, representing almost 50 hours per driver.
How the U.S. Compares to Cities Worldwide
At a city level, the U.S. accounts for 50 percent of the top 10 metros with the worst traffic congestion across the U.S. and Europe.
- London tops the list of gridlocked cities, at 101 hours of delay per commuter, followed by:
- Los Angeles - 81 hours
- Washington D.C. - 75 hours
- San Francisco - 75 hours
- Houston- 74 hours
- New York - 73 hours
- Stuttgart - 73 hours
- Antwerp - 71 hours
- Cologne - 71 hours
- Brussels - 70 hours
Drivers on the top 10 worst roads globally waste on average 110 hours a year, or more than four and a half days, in gridlock. Of these corridors, four are in Los Angeles and three are in Moscow, followed by roads in London, Brussels and Munich.
Of the countries measured by the INRIX Traffic Scorecard, the U.S. leads the list of countries with the most hours wasted in traffic – an average of nearly 50 hours per commuter in 2015 – outranking Belgium (44 hours), Netherlands (39 hours), Germany (38 hours), Luxembourg (33 hours), Switzerland (30 hours), U.K. (30 hours) and France (28 hours).
When working with limited budgets to manage transportation systems, using data-based performance metrics can make a major difference in the outcomes of planning and implementing new infrastructure. For most cities, applying big data to create intelligent transportation systems will be key to solving urban mobility.
Fueling the transformation toward data-driven city planning is the U.S. DOT’s $50 million Smart City Challenge. Last week at South by Southwest® in Austin, seven finalist cities were awarded $100,000 to refine their proposals before the winner is chosen in June. As this effort by the federal government seeks to stimulate investment in smart cities, measurement and analytics will be critical to determine which solutions are most effective, optimize ROI for taxpayers and ultimately evaluate progress.
INRIX’s traffic analytics can help city planners and engineers make data-based decisions to prioritize spending where it will create the biggest impact now and for the future.