As Petula Clark’s 1964 hit “Downtown” suggests, “If you’re alone and life makes you lonely, you can always go downtown.” The problem is that fewer and fewer people are “listening to the music of the traffic in the city” these days. Travel in major US cities has declined by an average of 22 percent, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the 2021 Global Traffic Scorecard just released by INRIX in Kirkland, WA, Americans wasted an average of 36 hours in traffic congestion last year, although that’s significantly lower than the pre-pandemic 97 hours in traffic in 2019. The Scorecard is based on a study of traffic congestion and mobility trends in more than 1,000 cities across 50 countries, including the 50 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas.
But not all urban areas saw declining travel times last year. While commuters headed to Washington, DC saw their traffic congestion decrease by as much as 65 percent in 2019 — the biggest drop among major U.S. cities — passage to Las Vegas, NV, rose 76 percent from pre-pandemic statistics. It is clear that people who work in the capital of our country have more opportunities to work from home than hotel and casino employees.
Travel times are among the busiest commutes in the country and are still dominated by the largest cities, including Chicago, IL (at 104 hours per year), New York, NY (102 hours) and Philadelphia, PA (90 hours). , although motorists driving to those cities saw their average travel times still fall 27 to 37 percent below 2019 levels.
“The impact of COVID-19 on transportation has persisted through 2021, changing when, where and how people move,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although congestion is up 28 percent this year, Americans still have 63 hours saved compared to normal, with the most notable change in commuter traffic during the pandemic being the lack of travel to the inner city.” Closed offices, dining and entertainment provided the most significant reductions in downtown travel in 2020 in Portland, OR (-66 percent), San Francisco, CA (60 percent), Washington, DC (60 percent), Detroit, MI (59 percent) and Boston, MA (56 percent).
Still, Americans have relatively easy commutes compared to some of their international comrades. Even if we consider that there were fewer road trips across Europe in 2020, London drivers are facing the worst traffic congestion in the world, with an average of 148 hours lost last year without going fast, followed by Paris (140 hours). , Brussels (134 hours) and Moscow (108 hours).
These are the 10 worst cities in the US for traffic congestion according to the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard 2021, showing the average annual time spent in traffic per motorist:
- New York City, NY: 133 hours
- Chicago, IL: 138 hours
- Philadelphia, PA: 112 hours
- Boston, Massachusetts: 164 hours
- Miami, Florida: 66 hours
- Los Angeles, CA: 128 hours
- San Francisco, California: 116 hours
- Houston, Texas: 58 hours
- New Orleans, LA: 63 hours
- Atlanta, GA: 53 hours
Here are the 10 most congested stretches of road in the US with the average time lost at a snail’s pace last year:
- Los Angeles, CA: I-5 from Euclid to I-605; 89 hours
- New York, NY: I-278 BQE from I-495 to Tillary St; 77 hours
- Orlando, Florida: I-4 West from Beachline Expy to FL-429; 74 hours
- Bridgeport, CT: I-95 CT Turnpike North. from Unquowa Rd to NY-8; 72 hours
- Dublin, California: I-580 East from Foothill Rd to Airway Blvd; 62 hours
- Stamford, CT: I-95 north of Riverside Ave to Hillspoint Rd; 61 hours
- Orlando, Florida: US-17 South from US-192 to The Oaks Blvd; 59 hours
- Miami FL: I-95 Express North from I-195 to 51NS NS; 57 hours
- New York, NY: I-95 Cross Bronx Expy South from I-278 to Arthur Blvd; 55 hours
- Los Angeles, CA: I-10 Santa Monica Freeway East from Washington Blvd to I-110; 54 hours
You can read the full findings of the 2021 INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard here.