California is known for many things, both good and bad. For many, California is a premiere destination spot, due to the incredible weather, breathtaking landscapes and luxurious beaches. There is no shortage of reasons to take a trip to just about any city in California, but unfortunately that has some drawbacks. California cities are frequently bestowed the dubious distinction of having some of the worst traffic in the United States.
San Jose Traffic
When it comes to traffic, San Jose has some of the worst in all of California, although it does not garner as much attention as some of the other heavy traffic offenders in the state. While traffic in San Jose has always been a problem, it has gotten much worse in recent years. In 2014, the annual TomTom Traffic Index reported that throughout the year, regular drivers in San Jose faced up to 92 hours of traffic delays. When the same study was conducted in 2016, the number of hours skyrocketed up to 144 hours, and it is only expected to grow higher in the following years.
One of the main reasons that San Jose has been seeing more traffic is a direct result of largescale urban development in the city. The more people living in San Jose, the more cars are on the already crowded roads. During the peak travel hours, drivers can expect anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes of traffic delays.
Fortunately, San Jose is aware of the growing traffic problem and is looking for possible solutions. In 2016, Santa Clara county experienced a sales tax increase. The county has promised that the additional funds will be allocated to fixing the traffic issues in San Jose. Bay area planners are working on designs for express lanes as well as moving future housing projects closer towards areas with public transportation, which will hopefully reduce the number of vehicles on the road in San Jose.
San Francisco Traffic
San Francisco is one of the California cities that frequently ranks high on worst traffic lists in the U.S. Similar to San Jose, traffic has been steadily increasing over the last few years. The reason for the increased traffic is not solely because of an increasing population. Instead, San Francisco traffic largely comes from businesses, primarily from Uber and Lyft drivers. In 2016, the San Francisco Examiner estimated that there were around 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers working through San Francisco. In addition, San Francisco also has several different taxi companies operating in the city.
San Francisco is also a popular tourist destination. As a result, there is not only increased traffic from out-of-state drivers bringing their vehicles to California, but there is a higher demand for Uber and Lyft drivers from travelers who flew in to the city and need transportation to get around. Companies like Uber and Lyft also face little in the way of regulations to operate in San Francisco, which attracts more drivers to those businesses. All of this ultimately leads to very congested roads. Because it is also a tourist destination, San Francisco roads are congested even during some of the later hours, when the amount of traffic would normally see a substantial decrease.
Los Angeles Traffic
When it comes to bad traffic in the country, few cities that compare to Los Angeles. For years, Los Angeles has been an icon of bad traffic. Like San Francisco, Los Angeles is almost always near the top of the list of worst traffic cities in the United States. In many studies, it was ranked as the number one worst city for traffic.
There are several different reasons why traffic in Los Angeles continues to get worse. One of the biggest reasons for Los Angeles traffic is bittersweet, since it has to do with the unemployment rate. Los Angeles has seen a significant drop in unemployment. In recent years especially, there has been a large spike of economic growth in the city. While it is good that so many Los Angeles residents have work, it naturally produces more traffic, especially because drivers are coming in from other California cities for work opportunities.
Another bittersweet reason there is so much traffic in Los Angeles has to do with the price of gasoline. Los Angeles has considerably cheaper gasoline prices, especially considering it is a large California city. The low prices encourage drivers to swing through Los Angeles whenever they need to refuel.
At least five of the major roadways in Sacramento are listed as some of the worst in the U.S. Part of the reason for this is the congestion, which is often experienced during most of the peak hours during the day. The Capital City Freeway (Business 80), is often cited as one of the worst corridors. Commuters unlucky enough to find themselves stuck in this area around 5 p.m. will find themselves traveling at 19 mph for seven miles, taking nearly twenty minutes to do so.
Only London is listed as having worse traffic then most large U.S. cities (which includes Sacramento). Part of the increased congestion over the last few years has to do with higher employment rates, commuter rates, and economic improvement that made it possible to purchase gas.