It's an honor local commuters will be reluctant to welcome, but not surprised to hear Washington, D.C. tops the list of the nation's most congested cities. This comes despite efforts to relieve congestion, like the HOT lanes on the Virginia Beltway and the Intercounty Connector in Maryland.
A new study, published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), measured the time and predictability of time required for a trip. The Planning Time Index (PTI), a measure of travel reliability, illustrates the amount of extra time needed to arrive on time for higher priority events, such as an airline departure, just-in-time shipments, medical appointments or especially important social commitments.
PTIs on freeways vary widely across the nation, from 1.31 (about nine extra minutes for a trip that takes 30 minutes in light traffic) in Pensacola, Florida, to 5.72 (almost three hours for that same half-hour trip) in Washington, D.C., according to the study by TTI.
D.C. topped the list, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, New York-Newark and Boston.
For D.C.- area native Tony Petruccelli, just getting to the office can be trying.He says on the roads it's always a slow start to the day.
"For me, it's probably about forty minutes to go six miles," he says.
The average commuter wastes 67 hours annually sitting in traffic. That burns 32 gallons of gas going nowhere. If you really have to be on time for a trip that should take 20 minutes, you really should give yourself 114 minutes to be safe.
"If you have one accident my 30-minute drive can turn into a 45 to 50-minute drive. I don't know what they can do about it," says Barbara Smith of Clinton.
Lawmakers are confronting the problem right now. Some say it will take billions, possibly trillions, of dollars to solve the area's traffic woes. Meanwhile, experts say one thing is clear: it will probably get worse before it gets better.
Transportation experts say the crush of commuters is so intense, mass transit can't solve the problem. The only way to take a real chunk out of congestion is working from home. "The offices need to do telecommuting more. Get more people off the road," says Lillian Norwood of Clinton.
Telecommuting and virtual offices are considered the best and least costly solutions to the metro area's traffic trauma.