Happening Now

We're #1?

February 14, 2019

by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator

“A commuter tie-up consists of you - and people who for some reason won't use public transit.” - Robert Brault

Traffic is something that we can all relate to. It doesn’t matter where you live, rush-hour(s) is just a way of life. (I once flew into Chicago on Tuesday at 1pm and sat on the Blue Line while the Kennedy was at a stand-still in both directions). The one thing none of us can agree on though is just who has it worse…

Well, thanks to the INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, we now have an answer for this “age old question.”

Sadly, if not completely unsurprising, the title for worst traffic in the country (and 8th in the world!) belongs to my current home of Boston (I know, I know. I’m actually in Cambridge. It’s the “general area” here we’re talking about). This is unsurprising because Massachusetts was recently ranked 45th for infrastructure by US News. But the eye-opening part of this scorecard is that Boston is only one of two US cities even in the top 20 - the other being Washington DC coming in at 20th (though we do have 16 cities in the overall top 100).

The local reaction to this news has been, for the most part, encouraging. MA Senate President Karen Spilka said that “We have to shake up the status quo and create a transportation infrastructure that matches our innovation economy” and Congressman Seth Moulton stated that “it’s now time for regional rail” (something I made the call for in a previous blog). My personal favorite (terrible take) was from Boston Globe opinion writer Jeff Jacoby who called for the Commonwealth to build more highways instead of investing in public transportation.

The Boston Globe did point out that “the Inrix report comes with caveats; and, indeed, the company has been criticized previously for the methodology it uses to rank metro area congestion — using travel speeds to measure the severity of the gridlock, for example, and not total time spent driving.” (That’s something, right?)

While Boston Metro is ranked the worst in the country, it is by no means alone in its misery. Urban areas across the country face worsening traffic and, often, the lack of political will to do bold things to combat it (NORTH-SOUTH RAIL LINK!). But there is a light at the end of the tunnel for many of the US cities on this list. A quick browse of transportation construction projects on The Transport Politic shows that New York City (40th), Los Angeles (47th), Seattle (58th), Portland (70th), Atlanta (71st), and Minneapolis (132nd) are building (or in the process of developing plans for) new public transportation infrastructure.

We are going to need to build our way out of this traffic mess - and I really don’t think new highways are the way to go….

We’re #1! Yay?