Charting Connecticut’s traffic trends over time

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Even though roughly the same percentage of the population commutes in Bridgeport-Stamford as in the New Haven and Hartford areas, drivers there will spend five to 10 hours more in traffic a year, according to a report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute .

The “Urban Mobility Scorecard” released Wednesday ranked the Bridgeport-Stamford area as the second-most congested area of its size in the nation. Last year commuters in that area spent 49 hours stuck in traffic compared to Hartford with 45 and New Haven with 40.

For decades, New Haven had longer delays than Hartford, but Hartford pulled ahead in 2006.

As a whole, congestion decreased during the recession, except in Bridgeport-Stamford, where it continued to grow, passing Hartford.

Today traffic in almost all regions is worse than before the 2008 crash, according to the Urban Mobility Scorecard.

Commuters are using more gallons of gas per year while stuck in traffic— more than five times the amount in the ’80s.

What do you think?

  • Peter Morgan

    I’ve been very struck in the ten years I’ve lived in New Haven by the choice to set traffic lights to apparently very long periods. If you miss the lights, you’re there for a long time. Demand-based left turn signals often trigger when there is no traffic waiting to turn left, which at rush hours means another 10 seconds for 20 people. Hardware that would be expensive to replace apparently cannot be adjusted with much sophistication.
    I have once successfully used SeeClickFix to identify a problem to the city (which is not easy to do because your own self-interest has to be factored out), but, to me frustratingly, they chose to lengthen the period by adding time to one of the directions (the right direction for me, thankfully) instead of adjusting the duty ratio. I often wonder what their philosophy might be for when and how to modify signal timings. It would seem that they have very little feedback about traffic delays, however, so that it would be easy to introduce more sophisticated hardware at considerable expense and have only the effect of making traffic delays more chaotic.
    Obviously traffic signals are only a small part of a whole system that has many other inputs, but they seem only rarely discussed.

    I wonder (right now, so this is creating a spec on the fly) whether a localized smartphone App could allow people to identify whenever they feel that traffic has held them up so that the city could at least have more statistics to work with [where am I, what direction, and how long the delay has been (time spent at an average speed of less than 10mph, perhaps) can all be automated, leaving just the choice of whether to tell the city about a particular traffic problem, with no other data being kept or shared for the sake of privacy, in contrast to the extensive data kept and shared by some Apps]. The App could cache data to avoid the need to use cellular because the intention is to assess long-term statistics, not momentary traffic patterns. The creation of expectations that the city would do something with the data might be a problem for the city, but that’s an interesting organizational problem whenever data is collected.