NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A new study suggests there isn't enough being done to ensure the nation's transportation system will be able to keep up with job growth, when the economy gets better.
According to the 2011 Urban Mobility Report, published by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, the average commute time is getting worse.
Texans spend an average of 34 hours stuck in traffic a year. That number is up from 14 hours in 1982.
Tim Lomax, with the Texas Transportation Institute, said there needs to be more of an investment and focus on infrastructure. "Now's really a good time to invest in roads and bridges and busses and trains. I think the construction costs are low," he said. "That could actually put some people back to work, as well as give us a chance to have lower traffic congestion out in the future."
The average cost of congestion is more than $100 billion, that's nearly $750 for every commuter. But North Texas has some of the worst commute numbers in the nation and drivers are shelling out more of their time and money.
"For the average commuter in the Dallas/Fort Worth area it means 45 extra hours of travel every year and over $900 cost for that time and extra fuel that you burn from stop and go traffic," Lomax said.
Researchers predict that by 2015 the average commuter will experience an additional three hours of delay, annually. By the year 2020 that delay is expected to increase to seven hours.
Lomax said there are some simple solutions employers and employees could make to help the problem. "It may be just that you could work from home for a couple hours in the morning," he suggests. "Say you're on your computer or your phone for two or three hours in the morning and then you drive in to work or you get on the bus or the train."
According to researchers, what was once "rush hour" has become six hours of drivers not "rushing" anywhere. "We've got way too many people trying to get to work on a system that just wasn't built to handle them," Lomax said. "We need more roads. We need more busses, more trains."
Houston and Dallas are among the top 10 American cities with the worst commute times.
Click here to read a copy of the report, along with data tables and other supporting materials.
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