Los Angeles is perennial champion when it comes to the worst traffic congestion in the United States, but on a global scale, the metro area has been beaten in the past by Istanbul, Mexico City and Bangkok.
But traffic data firm Inrix reports that it has a fresh way of measuring the worst traffic across the globe and that Los Angeles is not only America's No. 1 but also the world's as well. Greater L.A.'s rank on the all-new Global Traffic Scorecard is based on the estimated time the average local motorist spent stuck in traffic during peak commuter hours in 2016. In L.A., that number is 104 hours. Moscow came in second with 91; New York nabbed third place with 89. Traffic costs the average L.A. driver $2,408 a year in productivity and fuel, the firm found.
“This scorecard takes all roads into account to give a more accurate reflection of the typical trip,” Inrix senior economist Bob Pishue explains. Traffic in other global cities can be “more severe” for shorter periods, “but people in L.A. tend to sit in it longer,” he says.
One of the problems here, besides the area's traditional reliance on freeways and boulevards, is the low cost of driving, Pishue says. Gas prices have been more than reasonable in the last year, parking is relatively plentiful, particularly in the suburbs, and toll roads are still rare. “If it costs more to travel, people do less of it,” he says.
Los Angeles shows up in the fifth spot on an accompanying list of the most congested roads in the United States, with the 10 East from the 405 to the 110 representing our worst. New York's 95 West is No. 1. Chicago's 90/94 took second place.
Even though the United States made a strong showing on the congested global cities ranking, Thailand is the most traffic-ridden nation in the world overall, followed by Colombia and Indonesia, according to the report. The United States tied for fourth with Russia.
Inrix is not taking a stand on solutions, which could range from the expansion of public transportation to higher parking rates.
“We want public officials, transportation officials, drivers and employers to take a look at this to see how it affects the commute,” Pishue says. “Maybe an employer says we should shift our hours or do more telecommuting. Maybe bus routes are expanded. The solution is different for each city.”