A new study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute is putting money where your gas pedal is. Using factors such as fuel prices, maintenance and precious time, the Urban Mobility Report says the total cost of U.S. congestion in 2011 was $121 billion — $1 billion more than in 2010. The most recent figure translates to about $818 per commuter.
In addition to tallying the cost, Texas A&M researchers also predicted the amount of time drivers may spend in any given traffic jam. The Planning Time Index is "a measure of travel reliability" and estimates the amount of time needed to travel during peak hours.
Houston is the sixth-most congested city in the nation; Dallas ranks No. 15.
For example, if a city has a PTI of 3, then a trip that normally takes 20 minutes could take 60 minutes during rush hour. In Dallas, the PTI is 1.26, so a 20-minute drive might take 25 minutes. Not too shabby, considering cities like Washington D.C. and New York have a 1.33 PTI.
Although Houston has the same PTI as Dallas, it still has an overall higher level of traffic than Big D. Houston is the sixth-most congested city in the nation; Dallas ranks No. 15. The title of America's most congested city goes to Washington D.C., followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.
This year's Urban Mobility Report includes 30 years of data from 101 urban areas. In 1982, the PTI index in Dallas was just 1.06. In 2006, it hit the highest level in Dallas yet: 1.32.
Researchers say that reducing a city's traffic levels takes multifaceted plan including alternative means of transportation and companies offering telecommuting and flexible work schedules.