Just How Bad is the Pacifica Commute?

A new study says the San Francisco commute is one of the worst in the nation; the Silicon Valley isn't much better.

Commuters know Bay Area highways morph into glorified parking lots in the morning and evening, on holidays and weekends, and pretty much any time you actually need to be some place on time. 

Now a new study has the data to back up the brake lights.

San Francisco-Oakland ranked No. 2 of the 101 cities in 2011 data for the amount of extra hours of travel due to congestion for the average auto commuter. San Jose was in the top third at 28th, according to the Urban Mobility Study released this month.

The report, produced by the Texas Transportation Institute, rates worst areas for traffic congestion in the United States. Washington, D.C., was named the most-congested for the fourth year in a row.

Peak-hour commuters spend 89 hours waiting in San Francisco-Oakland traffic and burn 37 extra gallons of fuel each year. They lose 39 hours stuck in traffic annually in San Jose and use 17 extra gallons of gas, the study showed.

For the first time, the report includes a Planning Time Index (PTI), which measures the amount of extra time drivers need to arrive on time for events such as appointments, airplane departures or cargo shipments.

A routine 20-minute trip in San Jose will take 69 minutes during peak commute times and nearly 75 minutes in San Francisco or Oakland, according to the PTI calculations.

“We all understand that trips take longer in rush hour, but for really important appointments, we have to allow increasingly more time to ensure an on-time arrival,” researcher Bill Eisele told the Miami Herald. “As bad as traffic jams are, it’s even more frustrating that you can’t depend on traffic jams being consistent from day to day.”

The upshot? Well, San Francisco isn't really getting worse. The city has been rated among the top-three worst commutes in the nation for the past decade. San Jose has improved substantially since 6th and 8th place ratings a few years ago.

Do you think Highway 1 to interstates 101 and 280 have gotten more congested? Where do you commute to and how do you ease your commute? Tell us in the comment section below.


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Jane Wonder February 07, 2013 at 01:55 AM
None of the options -- singly or in combinations -- have been professionally looked at. Pacifica can solve its commute problems with a combination of options -- starting with timing the lights. Unbelievably, this most elemental of alternatives to spending $40 million of public money has not been studied. PH1A has more info https://www.facebook.com/PHwy1A
Lionel Emde February 07, 2013 at 06:26 AM
There's no problem when school isn't in session.
Chris Fogel February 09, 2013 at 04:43 AM
Right, Lionel. And it isn't even necessarily because there's more traffic coming through that interesection when school is in session (this was noted during the 2010 scoping session), but because there's less throughput on Rt.1 due to changes in the signal cycles at Reina Del Mar on school mornings. For some reason, many parents coming from the north end of Pacifica will turn right into the quarry, u-turn and wait to come straight across Rt.1 instead of using the left-turn lane from Rt. 1 onto Reina Del Mar. On some mornings, there are so many people attempting this u-turn, cars back up along Rt.1 as they all try to turn right into the quarry. The point is, normally very few people cross Rt.1 from the quarry towards Vallemar, but when they do -- on school mornings -- that removes 30 seconds from every timing cycle that would normally be used for through traffic on Rt. 1. In other words, 30 seconds' worth of traffic doesn't make it through on school mornings for every time the lights cycle through. And that's enough to foul things up. I hope all that makes sense!
Hal Bohner February 11, 2013 at 07:37 PM
So true. Caltrans' own consultants have told them that traffic could be substantially improved by improving signal timing. Yet Caltrans refuses to do it. This is ridiculous. Demand action from Caltrans and the Pacifica City Council. They could make it happen !!
Elizabeth Monticue February 12, 2013 at 04:44 AM
What can we as Pacificans do, other than sending emails to the City Council?


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