Jammed up

Houston stuck on new ranking of world's most traffic-congested cities

Houston stuck on new ranking of world's most traffic-congested cities

Houston aerial skyline with traffic on the highway
Houston's traffic woes have us ranked among the world's most congested cities. Art Wager/Getty Images

This might make your commuting headaches feel even worse: A global index ranks Houston just outside of the world’s 200 most traffic-congested cities and among the country’s 20 most traffic-congested cities.

TomTom, a provider of navigation technology, measured traffic congestion for 2018 in 403 cities across 56 countries. The new TomTom Traffic Index puts Houston at No. 204 globally and No. 18 nationally for traffic congestion, as well as No. 2 in Texas. 

In Houston, drivers spent an average of 23 percent extra travel time stuck in traffic last year, according to TomTom. The worst day in 2018 for traffic congestion in Houston: October 31 (44 percent). The best: Christmas Day (1 percent). Even summer, based on recent news, offers little reprieve. 

Traffic problems aren’t unique to Houston, of course. Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Antonio also are grappling with increased traffic as the state’s biggest metro areas continue to experience surges in population.

On the TomTom index, Austin, where people spent an extra 25 percent of travel time stuck in traffic, ranked No. 179 in the world, No. 14 in the U.S., and No. 1 in Texas.

Dallas-Fort Worth drove into the No. 299 spot globally, No. 35 spot nationally, and No. 3 in Texas for traffic congestion in 2018 (18 percent), TomTom says.

San Antonio fared best among major Texas metro areas, placing 321st in the world, 43rd in the U.S., and No. 4 in Texas (17 percent), according to TomTom.

The TomTom Traffic Index is based on anonymized GPS data collected from navigation devices, in-dash systems, and smartphones.

“Globally, traffic congestion is rising. And that’s both good and bad news. It’s good because it indicates a strong global economy, but the flip side is drivers wasting time sitting in traffic, not to mention the huge environmental impact,” Ralf-Peter Schaefer, TomTom’s vice president of traffic information, says in a release.

According to TomTom, the most traffic-congested U.S. city in 2018 was Los Angeles, It ranked 24th globally (an average 41 percent extra travel time stuck in traffic). New York City was second in the U.S., followed by San Francisco; San Jose, California; and Seattle.

Topping the global list was Mumbai, India, where drivers spent an average 65 percent extra travel time stuck in traffic. It was followed by Bogota, Colombia (63 percent); Lima, Peru (58 percent); New Delhi, India (58 percent); and Moscow (56 percent).

Earlier this year, the INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, an analysis of traffic congestion and mobility in more than 200 global cities, put Houston in 77th place globally, 13th place nationally, and first place in Texas. It’s based on data about time wasted in traffic and severity of traffic congestion.

The INRIX scorecard put Austin as the 84th most traffic-congested city in the world, 14th in the U.S., and second in Texas. Dallas ranked 122nd globally, 21st nationally, and third in Texas. San Antonio, meanwhile, came in at 163rd in the world, 60th in the U.S., and fourth in Texas.