Study: Bay Area traffic among the worst in U.S.

February 5, 2013 6:19:27 PM PST
Bay Area drivers and transportation planners are heating up like over-worked car engines this morning over a new study that shows our region's traffic is now just as bad as Los Angeles.

Drivers waste 61 hours a year in traffic -- that's one-and-a-half work weeks stuck in gridlock. That's time and money lost, especially when you consider gas prices in California have gone up by 30 cents in just a month.

Texas A&M confirms the Bay Area's commutes are miserable. By 2020 it is projected that the Bay Area will spend another seven hours in traffic, unless some kind of change is made.

"Just sitting in my car for an hour and a half each way is a lot of time wasted," said Jamie Donnelly from Berkeley.

After Washington D.C., the Bay Area is tied with L.A. for worst commute in the nation. With 61 hours wasted behind the wheel last year, it cost Bay Area commuters $1,266 in time and gas.

"Another way of looking at it is that a congested region is a working region, and that's a pretty good trade-off," said John Goodwin from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The MTC says the top congested areas have something else in common -- they all weathered the recession relatively well.

"Now as the job picture in the Bay Area continues to rebound, I think we can look for the Bay Area to remain in that top five," said Goodwin.

We wondered if the Silicon Valley-San Francisco commute had grown worse faster than other traditionally bad commutes. Comparison numbers are hard to come by but there are some indicators.

"The traffic is horrible in the peninsula these days and I see a lot of people wanting to be in the city versus traditionally in traditionally in Silicon Valley," said Carrie Goodman, a real estate agent.

Caltrain says it has seen a steady increase in ridership for 28 consecutive months. There are now more Caltrain riders than ever in its history. And realtors say they see a trend -- tech workers are choosing San Francisco over the South Bay.

On a flyer for a $3.6 million Noe Valley house, a selling point targets them by saying it's near the Google and Apple shuttle stops.

"Noe Valley in particular because it is towards the southern part of the city and an easier commute to get onto the freeways, but you see literally across town too, on the north side of town, the Google buses on Union Street and Fillmore Street waiting to pick people up," said Goodman.

The MTA Commission says they know we're never going to defeat congestion, but hopefully we can manage it with good planning and the right projects. Then we can have not ideal speeds, but reasonable speeds.

The study showed U.S. commuters spent $121 billion in wasted time and gas sitting in traffic.


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