National traffic congestion is down 30 percent, according to a new study, a finding that might come as a surprise to a local commuter attempting to navigate Storrow Drive or the Southeast Expressway at rush hour.
The study is from Inrix, a Washington state company that provides traffic data to auto manufacturers and companies that operate truck fleets.
If Inrix data points are to be credited, Boston is a bit of a piker when it comes to mounting world-class traffic jams. An analysis of 2011 traffic patterns for 100 US cities had Boston ranking ninth. The top four cities on the Inrix gridlock list? Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. (In Inrix’s traffic scorecard for the previous year, Boston also ranked ninth.)
From a national perspective, the big drop in traffic last year was the result of a double whammy that combined high fuel prices and high unemployment, Inrix said.
“In America, the economic recovery on Wall Street has not reached Main Street,” Bryan Mistele, Inrix president and chief executive, said in a statement.
Drivers in cities where gas prices exceeded the national average --- Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco --- saw traffic ease in 2011, Inrix said. On the flip side, cities where job gains outpaced national employment growth --- Tampa, Houston, and Austin, for example --- showed some of the biggest increases in traffic congestion, Inrix said.
In its study, Inrix looked at the nation’s worst traffic corridors as well as at cities and metro areas. According to Inrix, a bad traffic corridor is a stretch of road three miles or longer that is regularly beset by heavy traffic. Nothing in Greater Boston qualified to be included on Inrix’s dubious list of “The Top 10 Worst US Traffic Corridors.” Eight of the 10 worst traffic corridors are in either the New York or LA metro areas. The other two are in Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
In compiling its fifth annual traffic scorecard, Inrix collected raw data from thousands of vehicles equipped with GPS devices.