Traffic as an economic indicator

Steve Chiotakis Jan 20, 2011
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Traffic as an economic indicator

Steve Chiotakis Jan 20, 2011
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: If you’re stuck in traffic right now, you can thank the economic recovery. A little. Researchers at Texas A&M University found at the depths of the great recession, the number of hours wasted in traffic plummeted. But as the economy improves — yep, more people are taking to the roads.

David Schrank is with the Texas Transportation Institute and he’s with us from College Station. Good morning.

DAVID SCHRANK: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: So traffic as an economic indicator? Wow.

SCHRANK: What we’re seeing is that traffic congestion is very much tied to the economy and as the economy slowed down here in the U.S., traffic congestion decreased drastically, and we’re starting to see signs that it is picking up which probably ties to the fact that the economy is starting to slowly recover.

CHIOTAKIS: How much money David do we lose when we’re stuck in traffic jams?

SCHRANK: Our national estimate for wasted money is about $115 billion and that’s just based on time and fuel. So if you factor in other things — insurance or other driving costs — then that could go up as well.

CHIOTAKIS: If all of this, if traffic is used as an economic indicator, who’s climbing out of the recession and dare I say into the slower lane?

SCHRANK: Really, there’s no city per say that is rebounding rapidly, but Chicago’s probably one that would point to for a little bit larger on an increase than most. Maybe Miami and even the Los Angeles area.

CHIOTAKIS: David Schrank with the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M. David thank you.

SCHRANK: Sure.

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