America's Worst Commutes

— According to data from the Texas Transportation Institute, an independent transportation research group, America's roads and highways are more congested than ever before.

No matter whether you live in a small city or a megalopolis, if you commute by auto, you average 27 hours stuck in traffic each and every year. After adding up the cost of gasoline and working hours (or, more likely, sleeping hours) lost, the final tab came to $67.5 billion in 2000, the last year for which complete information is available.

Who has it the worst? Californians. Workers in San Francisco and Los Angeles spend more than a full working week staring at taillights each year.

Additional roadways are helpful, but they alone can't solve the problem. London has recently begun charging drivers to enter the central zone of the city. The $8 fee is not popular, but it has reduced traffic in central London by 20 percent since it was introduced in February. A similar market-based solution is being discussed for Manhattan.

Greater Los Angeles

Average annual hours of delay per capita for 2000: 62 hours.

With its infamous freeways, lack of decent public transportation and vast urban sprawl, Los Angeles is the worst commuting city in the country. Los Angelenos also waste the most fuel — 1.19 billion gallons per year — and pay the most, $1,155, per person in wasted fuel and time.

Major employers: The Walt Disney Co. (parent company of ABCNEWS), Northrop Grumman, Computer Sciences, Hilton Hotels, Mattel

San Francisco Bay Area

Average annual hours of delay per capita for 2000: 41 hours.

The bursting of the tech bubble cut a lot of jobs in the city by the bay, but it didn't put a dent in the daily commute. The city continues to grow and the roads can't keep up. The $2-plus-per-gallon gasoline costs don't help either. In total, congestion cost the Bay Area $3.2 million — $795 per person — in 2000.

Major Employers: McKesson, Wells Fargo, ChevronTexaco, Gap, PG&E

Dallas-Fort Worth

Average annual hours of delay per capita for 2000: 37 hours.

Everything is big in Texas, including the cost of commuting. Dallas is an expensive city in which to commute, costing residents $695 each. They consume an excess of 60 gallons of fuel per person every year by inching along in traffic.

Major Employers: AMR, J.C. Penney, Exxon Mobil, Electronic Data Systems, Brinker International


Average annual hours of delay per capita for 2000: 36 hours.

In past years, Houston has ranked higher, but the city has aggressively built new roads in an attempt to accommodate its booming population. The 3.3 million people who now call Houston home spent 121 million man-hours bumper to bumper in 2000, and it cost them $675 per person.

Major Employers: ConocoPhillips, Waste Management, Halliburton, Administaff, Sysco

Washington, D.C.

Average annual hours of delay per capita for 2000: 35 hours.

The federal government employs 326,000 workers in the D.C. area. Add in the 17 Forbes 500s companies headquartered there and you've got a lot of commuters. Decent public transportation cuts down on congestion but not enough to take the capital city off the list. Commuting costs $655 per person.

Major Employers: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Gannett, Marriott International, AES


Average annual hours of delay per capita for 2000: 35 hours.

Denver beats a lot of bigger cities when it comes to traffic snarls. Compared with L.A., the commute isn't that expensive, costing $640 per person. Residents spend a lot of time in traffic, however, wasting 105 million gallons of fuel each year.

Major Employers: Qwest Communications International, First Data, EchoStar Communications, UnitedGlobalCom, Newmont Mining

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