Congestion Climbs in 2009 Despite Recession

Some folks think the economic recession and reduction in automobile travel might provide a respite from the seemingly relentless increase in congestion. This was certainly implied in the most recent mobility report from the Texas Transportation Institute (although they warned that this would be temporary).

So, bullet No. 7 in a press release speculating on the top 10 transportation issues for 2010 by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) caught my eye:

Responding to Increased Congestion Due to Capacity Issues
In 2008, high gas prices drove thousands of commuters from their cars and onto buses, subways and other transit options. As gas prices moderated, however, many of these riders went back to their vehicles. In fact, despite the economic downturn, 64 of the 100 most populated cities saw increased congestion in the first six months of 2009. This congestion will only continue to worsen as more people move to metropolitan areas and little is done to increase the capacity of the overall transportation system. In early 2010, AASHTO will issue a new report that outlines a four-point plan to address the urban mobility challenge. Other reports on the transportation needs of rural and underserved areas as well as freight will follow.

The economic, social, and political implications of rising congestion are discussed more completely in our book Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century and The Road More Traveled: Why the Congestion Crisis Matters More Than You Think, and What We Can Do About It.