Metro Atlanta tops list for longest travel time

A newly formulated statistic gives metro Atlanta a dubious distinction: having the most time-consuming door-to-door commute of any urban area in the country. At 127 minutes per round trip, Atlanta out-bads cities that score worse on other traffic yardsticks, including Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago and Houston.

To be fair, even the experts at the Texas Transportation Institute, who came up with the new measure, admit that it needs some fine-tuning. After all, it shows that residents of Jackson, Miss., have the second most time-consuming round-trip, which is scarcely plausible.

But the new stat, dubbed “total peak period travel time,” captures something many other measures don’t — the time commuters spend on neighborhood streets and side roads. Other commonly used measures include only time spent on major arteries and highways, explained Bill Eisele, co-author of TTI’s annual Urban Mobility Report, a sort of travel planners’ bible.

And in metro Atlanta’s case, its awful “peak period travel time” ranking is buttressed by other stats in the report. For instance, the numbers suggest that area commuters travel farther to and from work than their peers in any other urban area.

The minutes and miles add up, though. The average Atlanta commuter endures 43 wasted hours on the roads each year, according to the report, and each delay — or even the anticipation of delay — translates into added stress.

In Monday's newspaper, the AJC takes a deep look at Atlanta's long commutes. It's a story you'll get only by picking up a copy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper's iPad app. Subscribe today.