Study: Miami Has World's Tenth Worst Traffic, and It's Costing Us $3.6 Billion

Jakarta. New Delhi. Beijing. Lagos. Bangkok. Those worldwide hubs conjure images of people crammed in traffic, honking their way through congested streets and crowded town centers.

But according to one recent study, none of those global cities has a traffic problem quite like Miami's.

According to data released Friday by the traffic-analytics company Inrix, Miami is the proud home of the world's tenth worst traffic congestion. According to Inrix, Miamians spent an average of 65 hours trapped in traffic at peak congestion times last year. American cities dominated the list: Los Angeles earned the proud distinction as the world's most congested city (L.A. residents spent 104 hours per person in peak-time traffic in 2016), followed by New York City at number three, San Francisco at number four, and Atlanta at number eight.

Moscow, Bogotá, São Paolo, London, and Paris made up the other slots in the top ten.

According to Inrix, those traffic jams are not only annoying but also costly. Constant traffic jams cost commuters extra fuel, pump extra carbon emissions into the air, and create a huge financial burden on shipping-reliant industries, which then pass on their traffic-congestion costs to consumers via higher commodity prices.

According to Inrix, Miami's monolithic wall of rush-hour cars costs the city $3.6 billion per year — more than all but four cities in the nation.

Congestion also grew worse last year: In 2015, Inrix ranked Miami the world's 14th most congested city. Now, the Magic City has cracked the top ten.

"The demand for driving is expected to continue to rise, while the supply of roadway will remain flat," Bob Pishue, Inrix's senior economist, wrote last week. "Using big data and technology to improve operations of existing roadways offers a more immediate impact on traffic flows and mobility while transportation officials explore strategic capital investments."

But city officials across the 305 have been reluctant to throw serious money behind commute-altering ideas such as extra buses, permanent bus lanes, and — dare we say it — a competent and usable train or street-car system (save for Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez, who has made himself a lone martyr for traffic-reform).

Last week, county officials firmed up a $3.6 billion Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan, which would bring elevated Metromover tracks and extended Metrorail lines to larger parts of Miami-Dade County. But county commissioners still seem reluctant to add basic amenities such as a train to carry Miamians across Biscayne Bay and into Miami Beach.

The MacArthur Causeway will turn 100 years old in 2020. It will celebrate its centennial without any sort of train line crossing its supports.
There's one small silver lining: According to the data, Miami's roads tend to clear up faster when people aren't driving at "peak hours." Commuters in Los Angeles spend 13 percent of their time driving in "congestion"; Miamians, meanwhile, spend just 8.7 percent of their commutes crowded next to other cars.

But once 5 p.m. hits in Miami, everything grinds to a halt.

Here's the full Traffic Scorecard: