KIRKLAND, WA --The most recent INRIX Gridlock Index (April 2012 to April 2013) could spell good news for the American economy, but it's certainly bad news for route drivers. According to the widely respected index, traffic congestion in June rose more than 8% on a year-over-year basis. This was due, say the INRIX analysts, to higher-than-expected payroll additions. Compared with a significant year-over-year decrease from the year before, the average trip in the 100 most populated metro areas will take just over 7% longer due to increased traffic.
For route operators, this means increased hours and fuel costs. Whether those increases to the bottom line will be offset by a boost in overall sales remains to be seen.
"Last year at this time we saw a 19% year-over-year decrease in traffic congestion levels," said INRIX chief executive Bryan Mistele. "Yet we turned a corner in December. Aside from a slight pullback in March, we've seen higher levels of consumer spending and employment lead to dramatically higher levels of gridlock on our roads nationwide."
Other data culled from the analysis show that the Northeast displaced the West to lay claim to the largest increase in year-over-year traffic congestion (12%). This was driven by strong gains in the metro areas of Boston (28%) and Philadelphia (25%). However, the West did see the second-highest gain in year-over-year traffic congestion (9.6%). This increase, according to INRIX, was driven by two metro areas that have proven most resilient during economic downturns: Los Angeles (12%) and San Francisco (14%).
The South also saw an acceleration of traffic congestion, with a 2.4% year-over-year increase in May followed by a 6% increase in June. These increases were largely due to strong gridlock increases in cities like Miami (17%) and Atlanta (10%).
The Midwest continued to decelerate. Its year-over-year gridlock increases of 14.4% for April and 9.1% in May were followed by a more subdued increase of 4.2% in June. However, major increases were recorded for Milwaukee (17%) and Minneapolis (16%), while substantial declines were noted in Toledo (-28%), Columbus (-19%) and Cincinnati (-4%).
As INRIX noted in its report, the index of congestion roughly parallels economic growth and statistical data in such things as housing sales, employment rates and other crucial data.
INRIX is a leading traffic intelligence platform delivering smart data and advanced analytics to solve transportation issues worldwide. It crowdsources real-time data from approximately 100 million vehicles and devices to deliver traffic and driving-related insight, as well as sophisticated analytical tools and services, across five industries in 35 countries. Data for its survey is drawn from the INRIX Traffic Data Archive Scorecard, a historical traffic information database comprised of data collected from hundreds of public and private sources, including a crowd-sourced network of millions of vehicles and mobile devices.