Sitting in Traffic Costs Car-Bound Dallas Commuters $3.6 Billion Per Year

Categories: Transportation

TrafficTexasTransportationInstitute.jpg
Texas Transportation Institute
Every day, my commute home takes me over the Hall Street overpass where, from the comfort (or, more accurately, mild discomfort) of my bike seat, I gaze down at the parking lot that is Central Expressway at rush hour and wonder with a mix of empathy and mild condescension what all those poor souls are doing while their trapped in their metal boxes.

For one, they're wasting a lot of time, money, and gas. Sitting in traffic in Dallas-Fort Worth costs the average car commuter nearly $1,000, eats up 45 hours, and burns 20 gallons of fuel each year, according to the annual Urban Mobility Report released overnight by Texas A&M's Texas Transportation Institute.

Those numbers add up. In the DFW area alone, congestion cost drivers $3.6 billion in extra fuel costs and wasted time (your time, according to TTI, is worth $16.79 per hour) and pumps 1.5 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This puts Dallas sixth in the nation in terms of congestion costs, about where it's ranked for the past several years.

The data show the problem has gotten moderately better in recent years. Though traffic's cost in Dallas has doubled over the past decade and more than quintupled over the past two, that's largely the result of population growth. Per capita, congestion time and costs peaked in 2006 at $1,414. But the cost remains high, and there's no precipitous drop in traffic looming on the horizon.

So what does TTI suggest we do to ease traffic? It depends, but researchers recommend "a multi-faceted approach should be used, relying on more efficient traffic management and public transportation in addition to new construction. Travel options such as flexible work hours and telecommuting should also be part of the mix."

Another solution: riding a bike.


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35 comments
TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

You didn't say, Eric. What was the value of the time you wasted condescending to those pathetic motorists?

John Paul Salas
John Paul Salas

I like how at the end it says "Another solution: riding a bike." Lol

Blake Wilson
Blake Wilson

I used to work for a large, multinational company. During their "push to go green" they were looking for ideas on how we could all help out. So after all of the obvious suggestions of using compostable cups, etc had been exhausted, I proposed a 20% reduction PER EMPLOYEE in their consumption of electricity, water, and gasoline by allowing employees to work from home 1 day a week. Of course, not all employees could take advantage of this, but most could. My dinosaur management didn't agree, because as well all know middle managers can only justify one more day of existence through physically managing their employees. Regardless, I didn't care that they didn't bite, so I implemented my own 1 day a week work from home strategy. In other words, solutions are out there, we just have a generation of old schoolers who think that no work can be done remotely. Once I pointed out that we support remote offices from one central location and that these remote offices couldn't tell the difference between me being at my house or in the office, a few light bulbs went off. Needless to say, they suck; sooner or later this will be mainstream for those who can stay productive while not being supervised. The managers and labor can choke up the highways, while the IT group starts work early from home.

Curt Eichelberger
Curt Eichelberger

I sit in traffic 1 to 2 hours everyday. on the 30 minute drive.

Will Byrne
Will Byrne

This isnt even accounting for how much emissions we are injecting into the atmosphere. Texas, get with the times and build a sound public transportation system.

observist
observist topcommenter

It only "costs" $3.6B if all those hours would otherwise be paid hours.  By the same line of reasoning, you could say sleep "costs" the nation $4 trillion in GDP, because if people didn't sleep they'd be producing an extra 8 hours day.  Or that movie/music pirating "costs" the entertainment industry $X billion per year as if people would have paid for all the same content if they didn't get it free.  


On average, people have come to expect a certain commute time.  If the roads weren't congested, people would spend the same amount of time commuting, they'd just live farther away and drive longer distances in the same amount of time.  At least that's what they've done for the past 100 years or so.  I bet it takes a sanctimonious bike commuter nearly as long to get from Knox/Henderson to Downtown as it takes me to get from Lakewood to Las Colinas... which is about as long as it took to take a streetcar from Junius Heights to Downtown in 1925.

blowmetone
blowmetone

Eric's condescension is why he gets shot with paintball guns by Mexicans when he rides his bike. 

downtownworker
downtownworker

Why do we have to accept that Dallas is not bike friendly and not demand that our politicians take this matter seriously? The only worse thing than inaction is a bunch of whiners on their keyboards.

roo_ster
roo_ster

"Another solution: riding a bike."

Did that for a while, until kiddos.  Just not practical, now.  

WylieH and  blowmetone have the two top solutions: traffic accident best practices and enforcing immigration laws.  Heck, we would likely reduce accidents if we got rid of the illegals.  The feature story in the Observer this week is about a DJ who got nailed by a drunk illegal alien.

blowmetone
blowmetone

Getting all the people(mexicans) without licenses or insurance off the road would clear up a lot of congestion too. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Public trans would ease the congestion considerably, but DART needs to transfer some of that expansion money to hiring more patrol officers for the trains.  The trains have nosedived in the last few months when it comes to cleanliness and safety, and who wants to sit in a filthy, smelly, noisy train car wondering if that nut sitting in the back is going to start shooting?

WylieH
WylieH

[So what does TTI suggest we do to ease traffic? It depends, but researchers recommend "a multi-faceted approach should be used, relying on more efficient traffic management...]

One of the biggest contributors to traffic congestion in Dallas is the Dallas Police Department's laughably laconic, "worst practices" approach to accident clearance.  Any day you drive down Central Expressway, when you encounter an accident you will first notice that DPD makes no effort to minimize the number of lanes impacted--- an incident on the far left lane, for example, will result in closing three lanes--- thus triggering MASSIVE, immediate traffic jams that persist for hours.  These massive traffic jams frequently trigger secondary accidents from cars & trucks rear-ending unexpectedly stopped traffic as the jams grow.

Then, you will notice the complete lack of urgency associated with clearing the scene and reopening the road.  A few months ago, I actually had the opportunity to watch the glacial speed of accident clearance after a "routine" accident on Central Expressway-- it was as if the DPD officers were having a coffee klatch in the middle of the road.

By simply doing two things:

1)  taking an intelligent, conservative approach to the number of lanes shut down due to an accident; and

2)  clearing accident scenes with a measure of urgency

the City of Dallas would dramatically reduce the amount of congestion, pollution, and delay associated with expressway travel and reduce the need for wildly expensive additional road building projects.

Best practices for traffic incident management are well established-- last I checked, the City of Houston does a great job with this, for example.   It is also interesting to note that in certain parts of the City of Dallas, where Dallas County has assumed primary responsibility for accident clearance, the amount of time required to clear an accident scene and reopen the road is a FRACTION the amount of time DPD needs to perform the exact same task (I seem to recall it takes the County 1/3 the amount of time as DPD, but an old DMN story has the exact figures).

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Why more companies don't allow you to work from home most days, I will never understand. Between a phone and a computer many office jobs can be easily done from home.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

The Texas Schools Lawsuit might be a story worth doing.  You know, that's like some relevant and important info.  Furthermore, it might well make for a fun debate. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

"...like anybody could possibly know that"

theslowpath
theslowpath

@observist There's a theory, I forget from where, of the hour-wide city. Essentially, the "city" you "live in" has a 1 hour diameter according to however you travel. So in DFW, an hour by car can get you from Plano to Duncanville (as long as traffic isn't too bad), around 30 miles, and puts you in possible contact range with maybe 2 million people; whereas in Paris, an hour of walking and using the subway gives you access to essentially everything inside the highway loop, around 10 miles, and possible contact with 4 million people. 

blowmetone
blowmetone

@observist And taking the DART bus is slower than walking, which is why only the elderly and the lazily unemployable take the bus anywhere.

blowmetone
blowmetone

@roo_ster Definitely would be less accidents. They drive drunk day and night. These peasants forget that driving a vehicle is not like driving a donkey cart back in the homeland. They drive their shitty 20 year old minivans(how do they even pass inspection, hmmm?) 50 mph down every highway and just love to get in wrecks. 

robbysalz
robbysalz

@roo_ster just not practical in this city...go somewhere else where things are closer together and traffic is safer and your kids can easily ride their bikes with you to the grocery store.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@WylieH When I was learning to drive in this city in the mid 80's, the city had set up places along Central for you to drive to after an accident.  It was a big cause at the time, clear the road, if you can, and do the paperwork in a safe place.  That stopped, and it indeed seems that the city stops, and that people expect CSI to do a forensic study for some fender-bender. 

MiddleAgedMan
MiddleAgedMan

Yep, its amazing...the Sherrifs Dept clears accident scenes in half the time. DPD needs a lesson in best practices.@WylieH

blowmetone
blowmetone

@WylieH On local roads the fat peasant lawnmower class of Obama voters will get in minor accidents and not move off the road.. just sitting there blocking traffic for hours. Get your fat ass out of the road!

robbysalz
robbysalz

@theslowpath @observist don't forget the 20 minute neighborhood lots of people are starting to advocate for—that realistically all your amenities such as groceries, libraries, shopping, postal service etc should be within a 20 minute safe walk at any given point in a city.

observist
observist topcommenter

@blowmetone @observist Considering the total number of angry, racist posts you make on every thread, every day under various names, it's pretty clear you're lazily unemployable.

bifftannen
bifftannen

@blowmetone @roo_ster I'd bet money that I could find more sets of bald tires on new to two year old vehicles than 20 year old minivans.

blowmetone
blowmetone

@scottindallas @WylieH Unless the car is disabled and someone is dead or going to the hospital there is no reason to stop in the road. Self centered dumb fucks get out of their car just because someone tapped the rear bumper without even any damage. Then you have the retards on the other side of the highway that slow down to look. 

WylieH
WylieH

@scottindallas @WylieH Yeah, I remember that, as well.  Seems like the City has forgotten those lessons and, for whatever reason, doesn't seem fit to emulate the best practices of other cities.  It seems like there are two big reasons why DPD takes so long to clear accidents:

1)  Waiting on tow trucks--- I'm not sure how they get assigned, but I assume that certain politically connected towing companies get dibs, even if they are half way across town.  Better practice would be to pre-position tow trucks near the expressway at peak periods (NTTA sometimes does this) and/or require towing contractors to guarantee a certain minimum response time.  Other cities do that, as well.

In Dallas, you can watch thousands of vehicles back up for miles waiting for the "correct" tow truck to show up.

2)  Filling out paperwork--- what better place for DPD officers to fill out paperwork than on the hood of their stopped cruiser in the left lane of Central Expressway in the middle of rush hour?  It's a nice relaxing atmosphere, since two extra lanes are frequently blocked off, as well--- just to give the officer plenty of room to stretch his legs, drink coffee with his buddies, etc.  Of course, they pay no mind to the thousands of commuters inconvenienced by the practice-- they could just as easily complete their investigation reports, etc. on the service road--- just like many other law enforcement agencies.  But nope, not Dallas.

CitzenKim
CitzenKim

@blowmetone @WylieH That is the stupidest comment I have seen on these pages in a LONG time, which is saying a lot considering the number of your postings.

blowmetone
blowmetone

@bifftannen @blowmetone @roo_ster Probably could!  Do you have a point?

I also bet you could find overly expensive stupid looking big rims on worthless shitbox cars driven by worthless shitbox people. Because stupid peasants spend their money on(or steal) stupid shit. I could probably buy all the new tires I wanted if the government paid for my rent and food too. 

WylieH
WylieH

@ScottsMerkin @WylieH @scottindallas In some jurisdictions, highway tow trucks are attached to the police department/highway patrol for this very reason.  When responding through heavy congestion to accidents, they activate emergency lights, sirens, etc. to cut through the jam and get to the accident.

I've seen that work pretty effectively to address the problem you cite.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@WylieH @scottindallas  a little note on the Tow Trucks,  When my car got totaled on 30 in G.P. they called for a tow truck as soon as the cops arrived.  The problem was that it was rush hour and our wreck had backed traffic up for miles back into Arlington.  I literally took them 40  minutes to go less than a mile to get to our wreck and we could see them sitting in traffic, lights on, and could do nothing to get to us faster

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