The American City Losing the Most Time to Traffic Congestion


The COVID-19 pandemic cut down traffic in America’s largest cities. The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) found that traffic dropped by half in some metro areas in the U.S. and Canada. In Overland Park, KS, the plunge hit 65%.

However, the trend has not been permanent. According to The Wall Street Journal, traffic congestion rose from 2020 to 2021. While there is no single reason, one may be that people elected to stay off public transportation as a way to avoid COVID-19 infections.

To identify the U.S. City losing the most time to traffic congestion, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2020 INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard. INRIX, which provides location-based data and analytics, ranked cities based on GPS data that evaluated the additional time spent commuting due to traffic congestion throughout 2020.

Perhaps not surprisingly, New York City tops our list, with an average 100 hours lost to traffic per driver in 2020. That’s four whole days, when people could have been doing something more productive than simply sitting in the car, on their way to work, shopping, trying to catch a flight from LaGuardia Airport or get out of the Lincoln Tunnel.

The economic costs are enormous: an average of $1,486 per driver, for a total of $7.7 billion. The former figure is more than the per capita gross domestic product of many countries.

Traffic congestion is even a problem in small cities generally regarded as having a good quality of life, such as Portland, Maine. There’s trouble in paradise too: Drivers in Kaneohe, Hawaii, lost an average 29 hours. Of course, this is not just a U.S. problem.

The city with the worst traffic congestion is New York City, NY. Here are the details:

> Avg. hours lost to traffic per driver, 2020: 100 hours
> Cost of traffic per driver: $1,486
> Total traffic cost by city: $7.7 billion

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