The 2005 Urban Mobility Report, released by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), shows a dramatic increase in traffic congestion over the past two decades. Pete Ruane, president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), points the finger squarely at government.
“Since 1982, U.S. population and economic growth has driven a 74% increase in vehicle miles traveled,” said Ruane. “Over the same period, road lane mileage has only increased 6%. Serious public investment in new public transit, rail, airport, and waterway capacity has similarly been neglected.”
Despite slow growth in jobs and travel in 2003, the report states, congestion caused billions of hours of travel delay and several billion gallons of wasted fuel, for a total cost of more than $63 billion. Also, while congestion tends to be more severe in more populated areas, regions of all population levels have experienced significant increases in traffic headaches. In addition, lost productivity due to time spent in traffic wastes an estimated $60 billion annually.
The report suggests a number of solutions:Increase capacity: New streets and urban freeways are essential, as are public transportation improvements.Improve efficiency: More efficient operation of roads and public transit can increase productivity of the existing system at a relatively low cost.Manage demand: Encouraging phone and Internet meetings, traveling in off-peak hours, carpools, and public transit can alleviate problems.Alter development patterns: Many urban areas are testing ways to sustain quality of life and foster economic development with minimized effects on mobility decline.
For more information on the report—co-sponsored by TTI, ARTBA, and the American Public Transportation Association—visit www.artba.org.