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Study: LA No Longer Has the Country's Worst Traffic

New York took top spot in 2020, researchers say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2021 2:27 PM CDT

(Newser) – America's biggest city has knocked its West Coast rival off the top of a chart—but New Yorkers probably aren't going to brag about it. According to Texas A&M University's Urban Mobility Report, the New York-Newark region now has the worst traffic in the country. This is the first time since 1982 that Los Angeles hasn't taken top spot, the Hill reports. The report's authors say drivers in the New York area spent a total of 494,268 hours stuck in traffic in 2020 compared to 365,543 hours in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim region. But they note that 2020 was an extremely unusual year, with traffic reduced to levels not seen since the early 1990s and a "flattening of the curve" in congestion, with traffic spread out over the day and much less difference than usual between urban areas.

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The study notes that before the pandemic hit, traffic was on course to beat 2019 levels. But after millions more people started working from home, the number of hours LA-area drivers spent stuck in traffic in 2020 ended up being just a third of the previous year's total. Measured by the average number of hours a driver spent in traffic, New York came out on top with 56 with LA in fourth place, behind Boston and Houston. But Los Angeles might soon reclaim its title of having the country's worst traffic, USA Today reports. The Texas A&M report notes that traffic levels started rising again in September—and while traffic volumes plummeted in 2020, the underlying causes of traffic problems, including weather issues, have not gone away. (Read more traffic stories.)

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