Fifty Four Percent of Americans Say Traffic Congestion Is Getting Worse


The recent Reason-Rupe public opinion poll called 1,200 adults on landline and mobile phones providing a snapshot of public opinion regarding transportation policy issues. A majority of Americans believe their area's transportation system is only in fair or even poor condition, while just 6 percent believe it is in excellent condition.

Nearly half of Americans say traffic congestion has gotten worse over the past five years and 54 percent expect traffic congestion to get worse over the next five years. In fact, 31 percent reported getting stuck in traffic jams at least a few times a week; however, another 30 percent say they never get stuck in traffic jams.

Despite traffic problems on the roads, only 6 percent of Americans say they use public transportation, such as buses, subways, or trains, every day; another 6 percent use public transit a few times a week. In contrast, 63 percent say they never use public transit, implying that most Americans primarily use roads and highways rather than public transit. Carpooling has also not caught on as a solution to congestion with only 4 percent saying they typically travel to work via carpool; instead, a majority drive alone.

Work commutes vary substantially, with 25 percent getting to work within 10 minutes while another quarter spending 30 minutes or more commuting. Some live close to work, with 28 percent living within five miles of their jobs, but another quarter travel 20 miles or more to work each day.

Find full Reason-Rupe Q4 2011 poll results, question wording, and methodology here.

The Reason-Rupe Q4 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1,200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from December 1-13. Interviews were conducted on both landline and mobile phones. The margin of sampling error for this poll is +/- 3 percent.

Follow Emily Ekins on Twitter @emilyekins


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  1. Imagine if states and municipalities didn’t use 65-80% of their transportation money for ~10% of commuters. They might improve congestion, and help cut down CO2 emissions they claim to want to cut.

    1. please. they’d just blow it on road projects that will never be completed (or will finish around 5 years after traffic volume has doubled beyond the added capacity the project brought.)

      1. …plain and forest, with no city-STATIST Roaddddzzzzzzzzz.

    2. What, and cut back on the bread and circuses for the aristocracy of pull? It would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath.

      1. …to victims of Privation Property.

    3. They’d like to make it a higher percentage, by building transit villages above public transportation and getting people out of those damned detached single-family homes. Because everyone would want to live in a suburban highrise above a subway station if only they would build them!!

  2. if you fucking peasants would just get onboard with highspeed rail we wouldn’t have this problem.

    at least you’ll be happy commuting on your tractors.

    1. (in all seriousness, where is all the telecommuting? how many people actually NEED to be somewhere specific to do what they do for work? how many commuters could just stay home if the archaic demand to contain people in a certain space to ensure their productivity was abandoned?)

      1. Employers are afraid that if they let their employees stay home, they’d spend all their time arguing with strangers on blogs instead of putting in an honest day’s work.

        1. How’s that goal working out in OfficeSpace?

          1. Insufficient data.

            1. Those ratbastard data collectors are slacking off again!

              1. Wylie, please come to Room 237.

                1. Yo, take this J-O-B and shove it.

      2. I telecommuted the last 4-5 years I worked and it was as undiluted awesome as possible under the circumstances.

        Having almost all interaction in writing put a quick stop to the “but I told you the app needs to do X, not Y” crap I had to deal with from face-to-face meetings. And my emails came across in a far less condescending manner than if I had spoken the same words.

        1. And my emails came across in a far less condescending manner than if I had spoken the same words.

          Funny, I get the opposite.

  3. The other 46% think traffic’s okay, but how about this weather? And did you catch that game the other day?

    1. That makes a lot of sense, dude.

  4. in all seriousness, where is all the telecommuting?

    I’ve been working from home for my company for the last 9 years. But alas, the pollsters didn’t call me.

    1. “Hello, do you have a moment to talk about your commute?”

      “What, like, the carbon brushes in my electric drill? I’m not sure I follow.”

  5. Using public transportation is a miserable experience. All too many of its advocates are people who wouldn’t be caught dead on it.

    1. WMATA’s buses are actually not that horrible.

      I will never set foot on The METRO again, however.

      1. I beg to differ with regard to the buses. Washington may not have much of a literary community, but we still have outlets for creative fiction, and bus schedules are one of them.

        1. The Fairfax buses are usually within 5 minutes or so. I like ’em.

    2. All too many of its advocates are people who wouldn’t be caught dead on it.

      Funny how that works, huh? City, County, and Regional Transportation noblemen dive their Lexus’ and Escalades to meetings where they discuss the public transport needs of the unwashed masses. Of course, public transport does not meet their needs, because our noblemen are important people with demanding schedules that cannot be jeopardized by the vagaries of public transportation.

      1. Also, riding the bus can just be…so…icky…

    3. I kind of like it. But the places where is will work well all already have it.

  6. “Follow Emily Ekins on Twitter”? You think I want to know more about how Americans feel about traffic? You guys just robbed me of two and a half minutes of my life, two and a half minutes that I’ll never have again! Thanks for nothing!


    2. Linking to your blog while posting this comment is a special kind of irony.

      1. As is your comment.


    4. YEAH! Traffic, what a bullshit issue! It’s not like one of the only legitimate purposes of government is building roads/infrastructure. Stop distracting people from the real issues! God, it’s like you people want the gov’t to spend your hard-earned tax dollars on the stuff they’re supposed to instead of Endless War and supporting the kleptocracy.

      What nerve. Fucking peasants.

  7. It took you two and a half minutes to read that?

    1. more to the point, what is he doing actually reading beyond the headline before posting a comment?

  8. Isn’t it just about time for another Ron Paul post?

  9. The answer is more private roads.

    1. Agreed! Afterall, if the locals can’t figure out the chaotic poorly maintained roads, then neither can invaders.

  10. No pictures so I can’t complain about the lack of alt-text? Well played.

  11. If people sat down for five seconds they’d realize there are some sensible reforms to improve traffic everywhere in this country. Namely that there need to not only be an increase in red light cameras but the creation of cameras to watch for anyone parking perpendicularity to traffic.

    These cameras could also catch anyone throwing snowballs or rocks at police or border officials.

  12. Since everyone drives alone, the problem, friends, is the unused passenger sides of cars. Sadly, no major change in the width of cars has occurred in the last 100 years. The solution to congestion: manufacture and drive ultra-narrow cars like the Tango.

  13. It’s how I get bait.QBStimPL4

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