Local News

Triangle's Boom To Blame For Commuters' Long Travel Times

Posted June 18, 2002 5:13 a.m. EDT

— If it feels like it takes longer to get to work, it is not your imagination.

New census figures show that the average commute in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill took about 20 minutes in 1990. In 2000, it got five minutes longer, which means you are in your car an extra 39 hours a year, which is almost a whole workweek. Those numbers put the Triangle at No. 1 in the country for the largest percentage increases in commuter times.

The Triangle has been rated the best place to live, the best place to start a business, now it has earned a No. 1 for traffic congestion. The amount of time it takes Triangle drivers to get to work increased more from 1990 to 2000 than in any urban area nationwide.

"I get frustrated when I've got a timeframe that I have to deal with and the next thing I know I'm stuck in traffic," motorist Roger Thomas said.

"It's taking so long, so why go to school or it's getting worse," motorist Santiago Palacio said.

DOT traffic engineers said lifestyle choices of all those people stuck in traffic are what is causing the problem. They said more people are living farther away from where they work. Few communities are being built that allow people to live, work and shop without getting out on the highway.

The Triangle has not embraced some of the alternatives that some traffic engineers say will reduce drive times like carpooling.

"I think it's because of RTP and a lot of people have different work schedules, so I find myself around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. sitting in traffic," motorist Candis Parker said.

Officials said more carpooling, mass transit, better land use planning and flexible work schedules would all help the situation.

Here is a list of the other top cities where commutes are getting longer:

2. West Palm Beach, Fla. 3. Charlotte, N.C. 4. Atlanta 5. Miami 6. Greensboro, N.C.

Officials said most of the places where travel times are getting longer are in the South due to the region having some of the fastest-growing cities in the country.