Houston region ranked 7th nationally for most annual hours spent in traffic delays

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A new study shows the average Houston commuter spent 75 hours stuck in traffic in 2017—22 hours more than 10 years prior in 2007. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute released the 2019 Urban Mobility Report on Aug. 22, showing the nation’s most congested urban areas and providing potential solutions to reduce delays.

The report evaluated a total of 494 urban areas across the U.S., with 101 of those being larger urban areas such as Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. The Greater Houston area includes outlying jurisdictions such as Humble, Kingwood, Atascocita, Spring, Cypress, Sugar Land, Pearland-League City and Baytown. In addition to large urban areas, the report also provides mobility data on 393 smaller urban areas, such as Conroe-The Woodlands and Bryan-College Station.

The Houston area ranked seventh for most annual hours of delay with 247.44 million total hours in 2017, while the region ranked ninth nationally for annual hours of delay per commuter at 75 hours. The study also determined that peak congestion times in Houston is Mondays and Tuesdays at 5 p.m. and Fridays at 4 p.m., with 2.4% of Houston’s delays occurring during those times.

TTI Senior Research Scientist David Schrank, who is also a co-author of the Urban Mobility Report, said the report does not provide a breakdown of congestion per roadway like will be shown in the TTI’s annual report of Texas’ most congested roadways, which is set to be released in October.

“These are areawide statistics, so they apply to the citizens of that community, not any particular road,” Schrank said. “So you may have a handful of roads that are twice as congested as this other handful, but when … you average all those things together, and you get somewhere in the middle.”

Schrank said not only is congestion a hassle, but it wastes billions of dollars annually. The annual cost of congestion in Houston is roughly $4.5 billion, which is calculated by combining time and fuel spent. The region also ranked fifth among all urban areas for most wasted fuel, according to the report.

The report also includes mobility solutions on how the nation can tackle congestion, but Schrank said the solutions vary by region. While improving subway systems may be a viable option in northern states, Schrank said Texas’ reliability on automobiles and the great distances between the state’s major cities require different mobility solutions.

Utilizing existing public transportation services, such as the light rail and park and ride services, are some ways Houston-area commuters can reduce congestion, Schrank said. Moreover, he said advancing technology may also improve Houston’s mobility in the future.

“Technology is one of the things to better manage and operate because a lot of the times it’s one of the cheaper options,” Schrank said. “Rather than buying right of ways and building new facilities, technology can be added to what we already have.”

Click here for more information on the 2019 Urban Mobility Report.

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Kelly Schafler
Kelly Schafler is the editor for the Lake Houston, Humble and Kingwood edition of Community Impact Newspaper, covering public education, city government, development, businesses, local events and all things community-related. Before she became editor, she was the reporter for the Conroe and Montgomery edition for a year and a half.
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