Bay Area commuters spend over 100 hours stuck in traffic a year

New research released Thursday shows traffic in the Bay Area is getting worse with drivers wasting the equivalent of two weeks a year stuck in traffic.

“It takes me one hour to get from here [San Jose] all the way to Menlo Park,” said commuter Marcos Gonzales. 

South Bay motorist Erlinda added, “It’s the Bay Area. I mean of course, it’s just congested.”

Research from the Texas A&M University Transportation Institute says in 2017, each Bay Area commuter wasted 103 hours annually stuck in traffic, costing the economy $2.4 billion a year. That’s second-worst to the nightmare that is driving in Los Angeles—119 hours a year. 

The list of top-five cities is rounded out by the District of Columbia, New York City, and Chicago.

“It boils down to there’s just simply too much demand for the supply on the transportation system,” said Dr. Bill Eisele, a senior researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and the report’s lead author.

He says the result of worsening conditions is rush hour in slow motion, which leave commuters frustrated and looking for alternatives.

“If we have something by a certain time out here, we have to leave two to three hours before. Or we’ll even leave in the middle of the night so that we don’t hit the traffic,” said Mindy Solorio, who commutes from the Central Valley to San Jose with her husband and three-month-old baby girl, Journey.

Researchers suggest a myriad of solutions, from adding a second Bay Bridge to more lanes on Highway 101, to changing work patterns. But Kelly Snider, a professor in San Jose State University's Dept of Urban and Regional Planning, says the fractured nature of Bay Area mass transit, and a growing economy luring more people to the region means the solution is far off.

“It’s not gonna happen soon and it’s not gonna be cheap. It’s gonna require a lot of public sector money," Snider said. "There’s talk of bonds being on the 2020 ballot. And maybe on the 2022 ballot."

In the short term, experts suggest bus-only lanes on most surface roads as a way to get more people out of their vehicles. 

If you think moving to a smaller city could be the answer, consider while major cities have seen a doubling of congestion, smaller ones have seen a quadrupling.