About $166 billion are wasted every year in the US because of traffic congestion: the astonishing figure comes from Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s 2019 Urban Mobility report which examined about 500 urban areas. According to this study, City gridlocks have been incessantly getting worse over the last 30 years, and part of the problem is related to the increased employment.
Since 1982, US workforce has grown by over 50% to the current total of 153 million active people. Since more workers mean more people travelling every day, the average number of hours per commuter lost to traffic delay has nearly tripled in that time, climbing to 54 hours a year per person. And the annual cost of those delays has nearly doubled to its current rate of $1,010 per person, per year.
Traffic is a big issue not only in the US, but even in smaller countries. In Belgium, for instance, a recent study says traffic jams cost between 1 to 2% of national GDP. In Brussels and Antwerp, two of the most populated Belgian cities, motorists lose respectively an average of 34 and 44 minutes each day while stuck in traffic jams.
A prominent Belgian urbanist suggested the idea of building “multimodal mobility hubs” just outside of urban areas to mitigate traffic by offering commuters alternative solutions to private cars. Sustainable, integrated transportation systems are to be welcomed in any community where congestion worsens quality of life, and burdens local economy.
A simple but effective measure can also come from the smarter management of existing parking facilities: when increasing average parking usage rate and reducing the idle driving in search of a free car spot, urban traffic can be decreased up to 30%. And a more comfortable driving and parking experience generates huge benefits even in terms of fuel consumption, air pollution, time waste and stress.