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According to an annual study recently released, Los Angeles had two of the worst traffic corridors in the country in 2020, and ranked as the fifth most congested city in the U.S. The 2020 Global Traffic Scorecard released by transportation analytics firm Inrix Inc provides three years of mobility analysis within the world’s most congested cities.
And while traffic dramatically decreased because of the coronavirus pandemic, this didn’t help LA one bit. INRIX looked at the impact of COVID-19 to transportation trends including miles-driven, travel times, collisions, and bike and transit accessibility.
According to the report, drivers on the Hollywood 101 Freeway to the Harbor 110 Freeway and the San Diego 405 Freeway to the Glenn Anderson 105 Freeway wasted 19 hours per year at peak hours in congestion. In 2019, the Santa Ana 5 Freeway topped the list at 80 hours of delay per year but dropped completely out of the top 25 of 2020.
“COVID-19 has completely transformed when, where and how people move,” Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at Inrix, reportedly said. “Government restrictions and the continued spread of the virus led to shifts in travel behavior seemingly overnight. Morning commutes in cities across the world went without delay as people reduced auto and transit travel to offices, schools, shopping centers and other public spaces.”
Los Angeles moved up a spot in the rankings of the most congested urban areas in the country. According to the Inrix report, the average commuter in the L.A. metro area loses 45 hours per year to congestion, costing an average of $664 per driver in time lost.
“Although travel to downtowns has been the most affected by the spread of the virus and subsequent government restrictions, the reduction in congestion has resulted in quicker commutes for essential workers, more reliable deliveries and streamlined freight movement, all of which are vital to the economy,” Pishue said. “We expect downtown trips will continue to lag suburban and rural travel through 2021.”
Moreover, the city ranked 37th most congested city in the world. The most congested city in the world is Bogota, Colombia, where drivers lose 133 hours a year.
On average, people in the U.S. lost 26 hours due to congestion in 2020, down from 99 hours in 2019, resulting in savings of $51 billion — or $983 per driver.
But traffic wasn’t the only thing that didn’t decrease in Los Angeles because of the pandemic. Though the city did see a significant air quality improvement throughout 2020 because of the small decrease in traffic, it wasn’t enough to offset the extreme air pollution events. Wildfires caused major spikes in air pollution and emitted huge amounts of greenhouse gases. Together with Sao Paulo and Melbourne, Los Angeles saw the greatest rise in PM 2.5 levels compared to 2019 because of their severe wildfires.
In the U.S., miles driven by passenger cars made up 82% of pre-pandemic levels. Moreover, collisions fell by 30%, though they became deadlier over time, because as traffic volume went down, speeding shot up.