Ask anyone who drives even on a semi-regular basis in Los Angeles which city has the worst traffic in the world and the answer will invariably be “Los Angeles” with no moment of hesitation. By no coincidence, a transportation analytics firm says the same thing.
Inrix, which provides “a data-rich evaluation of urban travel, traffic health and vibrancy for over 1,360 cities around the world,” says that for the sixth straight year, Los Angeles has the most congested roads on Earth.
“Los Angeles commuters spent over 100 hours a year in traffic jams in 2017 — more than any other city in the world,” says Inrix in a website graphic under the appropriate header of “Clenching the wheel.”
Inrix also noted that “last year, congestion cost Los Angeles drivers over $2,828 on average, equaling more than $19.2 billion to the city as a whole.”
The toughest drive in Los Angeles is the eastbound stretch of Interstate 10 between Interstate 405 on the west side and Interstate 110 in the shadow of downtown. It is the fourth-worst freeway corridor in the country.
San Francisco drivers also have it tough. Their city ranks fifth in the world, a slight improvement over last year’s fourth-place ranking. Meanwhile, San Diego is 45th, Santa Cruz 109th, San Rafael 124th and Santa Barbara 130th. That’s six California cities ranked among the bottom 10 percent.
It’s obvious that the state desperately needs to expand highway capacity. But policymakers are more interested in putting California drivers on a “road diet” in an effort to make traffic so miserable that drivers will park their cars and use public transit systems instead.
Yes, Sacramento has said it’s finally ready to repair the state’s cracked and buckling roads, and increased fuel taxes to raise $52 billion to pay for improvements. But apparently none of that money will be dedicated to increased capacity. Some, though, will be applied to public transit, which is experiencing falling ridership in Southern California because residents are buying cars instead, pedestrian and bike paths, and bond debt on the high-speed rail boondoggle.
“Californians will be lucky if a single oleander bush is replaced on a freeway,” transportation analyst Wendell Cox has said.
Weary of grinding their way across the sprawling megalopolis of greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles County voters overwhelmingly approved Measure M in the fall of 2016, a $120 billion infrastructure project financed with tax hikes that is supposed to “improve freeway traffic flow.” But it’s unlikely Angelenos are going to get what they think they’re paying for. Other purposes for the money include expansion of rail, subway and bus systems, the darlings of “progressive” policymakers who feel it’s their role to plan others’ lives. As long as that thinking prevails, Los Angeles will continue to have the worst traffic in the world.
Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.