Traffic Woes

How much time and money do Houstonians waste in traffic? New report reveals surprising numbers

Report reveals how much time and money Houstonians waste in traffic

Katy Freeway highway Interstate 10 traffic traffic jam March 2014
A new report found that Houstonians waste 61 hours a year stuck in traffic. HoustonCrash.com

It's common knowledge that Houstonians hate the city's traffic congestion, but a new report examines just how bad it's getting. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute's 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard delves into the real cost of traffic in Houston and across the nation.

According to the report, each commuter in Houston wastes 61 hours per year in traffic. The average for large cities with populations between 1 and 3 million (such as San Antonio, Portland and Denver) is 45 hours, placing Houston well above the average and at No. 5 in the country for the worst congestion among this demographic.

 The ratio for Houston is 1.43, meaning a commute that should take about 30 minutes takes close to 42 minutes during high traffic times. 

The scorecard also explains how much longer it takes to get somewhere during peak flow times versus free flow times. The ratio for Houston is 1.43, meaning a commute that should take about 30 minutes takes close to 42 minutes during high traffic times.

But it's not just about wasting time on the roads. The scorecard also looked at exactly how much dough we're spending by calculating the yearly congestion cost per auto commuter. Combine how much gas we waste during commutes with the value of our travel time delay, and each Houston commuter is throwing away $1,490. 

Traffic has historically been a significant problem in the city, so it comes as no surprise that Houstonians are tired of suffering from traffic congestion. According to this year's Kinder Houston Area Survey — conducted annually by Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research — 65 percent of Harris County residents who have lived in the area for three years or more feel that traffic congestion has continued to worsen, up from 56 percent in 2013 and from 53 percent in 2011. Moreover, 28 percent of respondents spontaneously named traffic as the city's biggest problem.

However, the problem isn't one faced by Houston alone. Commuters in Austin and Dallas-Forth Worth waste 52 hours and 53 hours per year, respectively. San Antonio has it better, at 44 hours wasted per year.