Dallas, TX – No, it's not our imagination - our commuting time to and from work is growing. And something could have been done about it if Congress chose to - they didn't. I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Midday.
When I first moved down here from Chicago in the mid '90s, I used to get a chuckle how people complained about the traffic in the Metroplex. Eight years later, I make every attempt to at least smile during the occasional 45 minute to an hour commute, which should take just over 20 minutes. In a new national study by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M, Dallas/Fort Worth ranked 18th out of 75 metropolitan areas for having the worst congested driving conditions. It made me feel a little better that Chicago ranked fifth. You know L.A. ranked first, of course.
When you consider the official title of the report - "2003 Urban Mobility Study, it's understandable why New York ranked 27th. People use public transportation in New York. If it wasn't for all the "strategies," as the study calls them, it would have ranked 12th.
But the highlights of the study concluded Americans lose 3.5 billion hours of potential productivity while stuck in traffic and waste 5.7 billion gallons of fuel. And if you like to reminisce, go back to 1982 when the average rush hour took only 13% longer than the same trip during off-peak hours. Today, it's 39% longer than off-peak.
And this week, our politicians in Washington made the smallest gesture possible to help these conditions. The 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century was up for renewal two days ago. So instead of the expected full five-year reauthorization, Congress extended it for - a whopping five months. It would have committed $375 billion "to build and repair critical highway, bridge and public transit facilities." It's political, and next year's the election. Think on that when you're behind the wheel.
For KERA Marketplace Midday, I'm Maxine Shapiro.
Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 p.m.
Email Maxine Shapiro about this story.