Many of you know I grew up in Greater New York City. Where Robert Moses transformed the area to produce a plethora of roads and bridges. But, even with all that building, traveling was tough. The Southern State Parkway (which was the backyard of my childhood home) opened in 1927. This four lane, 25 miles long, parkway started with tolls providing access to New York City for those on the Southern reaches of Long Island. It became 8 lanes (city line to the Hempstead Lake State Park) and six lanes thereafter before I was 10. The tolls disappeared sometime after I left the area.
But, even with that road, the Northern State, the Long Island Expressway (built at the same time as the Southern expansion), Sunrise Highway and the like- traffic was ridiculously bad during rush hour. Driving from my home to my college was something I rarely did. (I lived in Brooklyn for a while to avoid commuting; otherwise I generally took the train.) But, when I did for a party at night- I could reach my fraternity house in 35 minutes. If I went during rush hour, that same trip took between 120 and 140 minutes.
Living in Greater Los Angeles wasn’t a picnic, either. And, now I live in Greater DC, where the stupidity of the Virginia Legislature (I’m not forgetting the Governor, either) means that we get no real money for transportation, as more homes are built and more of them are built miles and miles away from the city- making travel worse.
No wonder the annual survey of the Texas Transportation Institute lists the region as the one with the worst travel conditions. This study examines a variety of factors to determine the overall anxiety (or is that misery?) index for commuters.
One of the primary measures is the travel time index. It is the ratio of travel times between when there is no traffic and during peak travel. The planning time index is the difference between amount of time it takes to travel the route during peak periods and the amount of time one can make the trip at posted speeds, weighted by the person miles travels.
Another index is the delay per peak auto consumer. This is the annual total delayed time for those who travel during peak periods (6-10 AM and 3-7 PM) . This reflects both congestion and the average length of the trips taken.
The third factor is the congestion costs per peak consumer. This employs the delay time (valued at $16.01 per hour- really? $32K a year?) and the cost (each region has a different average cost) of excess fuel needed due to the congestive conditions.
The fourth factor is the excess fuel used by each consumer due to congestion.
And, the results- well, the table above shows the sorry facts. Which is why I again ask you to contact your senators and congressman- we need that temporary tax surcharge (read it again here) to deal with our infrastructure (be they roads or mass transit) needs!