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Atlanta ranks among America’s ‘most congested’ cities

In 2016, transportation analytics firm INRIX ranked Atlanta one of the world’s 10 worst cities for congestion—and the fourth worst in America. This year, Atlantans can breathe a small sigh of relief.

» RELATED: Georgia drivers ranked among worst in the nation for 2018

But unlike the 2016 report, analysts behind INRIX’s 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard didn’t just study the amount of time an average commuter spent in congestion; they examined the total number of hours lost due to congestion during peak commute periods.

The scorecard is based on two years of historical traffic data and mobility trends in more than 200 cities across 38 countries.

» RELATED: America's deadliest interstate is in Georgia, study says

Other factors researchers considered:

  • Year-over-year change: Percentage difference in hours lost in congestion in 2018 compared to 2017
  • Last mile travel time: Time it takes to travel one mile into the central business district during peak hours
  • Last mile speed: Speed at which a driver can expect to travel one mile into the central business district during peak hours
  • Cost of congestion per driver: Economic cost based on labor market, industrial sector, mode of transport, trip distance and travel conditions
  • Cost of congestion per city: Economic cost based on labor market, costs of freight movement, operating costs, travel conditions and more

» RELATED: Study: Georgia’s $10 billion traffic plan could reduce delays

According to the report, only one American city (Boston) ranked among the 10 top most congested cities in the world, led by Moscow, Russia; Istanbul, Turkey; Bogota, Columbia; Mexico City, Mexico; and São Paulo, Brazil.


In Moscow, analysts noticed the average driver lost 210 hours of congestion in 2018. Drivers in Bogota lost the most time of anyone in the world: 272 hours.

After Boston, where the average commuter lost 164 hours on the road during peak commute time last year, the other most congested cities in the United States were Washington, D.C.; Chicago; New York City and Los Angeles, according to INRIX.

Photo: INRIX

On average, the American driver lost about 97 hours due to traffic congestion and U.S. cities suffered an economic deficit of approximately $87 billion, according to the report.

Atlanta ranked 71st in the globe and 11th on the national list, up from its national spot at 13th last year.

» RELATED: Metro Atlanta's 10 most consistently awful traffic hotspots

Here’s more on how Atlanta fared:

  • Global rank: 71
  • National rank: 11
  • Hours lost in congestion: 108 hours
  • Year-over-year change in congestion: 10 percent
  • Inner city last-mile travel time: 4 minutes
  • Inner city last-mile speed: 14 miles per hour
  • Cost of congestion per driver: $1,505
  • Cost of congestion per city: $3.5 billion

Explore the full report at inrix.com/scorecard.

As for Atlanta’s future, you may have read about the Atlanta Regional Commission’s $85.1 billion 24-year plan for the city.

“Between now and 2040, the Atlanta region’s population is projected to grow by 2.5 million – the equivalent of adding all of today’s metro Charlotte,” The AJC reported in 2016.

To combat the city’s pending growth, the ARC board approved the massive plan to allocate funding for new transportation projects.

Of the $85.1 billion, “nearly two-thirds” will be dedicated to maintain existing infrastructure, “such as paving roads and repairing bridges.” Another $28 billion will be spent on expanding the region’s transportation network through express toll lanes, wider arterial roads, transit expansion and other highway improvements.

» RELATED: Want to see Atlanta’s traffic future? Denver offers a glimpse

In 2017, AJC transportation reporter David Wickert traveled to downtown Denver to get a possible glimpse of Atlanta’s traffic future.


“The region is playing catch-up with some of its economic development rivals, including Denver. But if it catches them, Atlanta could itself become a model for others to emulate,” Wickert wrote about the Mile High City and its laudable rapid transit, light rail and extensive network of toll lanes. “Flush with billions of dollars from recent state and local funding measures, the Atlanta region has begun to diversify its transportation network. Toll lanes are already operating on parts of I-85 and I-75, and more are on the way. MARTA is planning expansions in Atlanta and Clayton County.”

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