By: Gokul Menon January, 02, 2020


The data published by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) reveals a staggering increase in annual congestion costs in multiple cities of the country. San Francisco and Los Angeles lead the way in this respect and lays emphasis on the amount of congestion in the state of California. This study, conducted by the USDOT, takes into account multiple factors that add to an auto commuter’s congestion cost. Some of these include:

  • Travel Time Cost: This indicates the loss of time auto commuters face due to congestions and gridlocks, which otherwise could have been used productively or for leisure.
  • Vehicle Operating Cost: Congestions ultimately lead to higher vehicle operating costs, given that increased wait time in traffic leads to higher fuel consumption.
  • Emission Cost: Combustion of larger quantities of fuel leads to an increase in emissions, which affects the population in multiple ways. Emissions are directly responsible for the rising temperatures across the globe. The recent wildfires are an example of how rising temperatures affect human life.
  • Unreliability Cost: Travelling becomes an unreliable task when one lives in a city that witnesses multiple congestions. Productivity ultimately takes a hit due to the unreliability of this mode of transport.

The list also includes safety costs, which cannot be quantified.

It is noteworthy that five out of the top 10 cities are in California. It is the most populous state in the country, with around 39 million people, according to the census data of 2018. Congestion costs are not as visible as fuel prices or the rate of carbon emission. This could be classified under “hidden costs,'' which a resident can face in the cities mentioned above.


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Gokul Menon

Gokul works as a writer at Gavop. He holds an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Hyderabad and a Bachelor’s in English from Madras Christian College. He has been a part of a couple of theatre groups, like Masquerade Youth Theatre and Theatre No. 59 and enjoyed being a part of Literary and Debating circles in Chennai. Gokul is an avid reader and has presented a few academic papers. He spends more time on Goodreads, than on any other social media platform.