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Study: Average Denver commuter spends 49 hours in traffic per year

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DENVER — Traffic congestion in the Denver Metro area has returned to pre-recession levels, reflecting a spike in traffic congestion nationwide, according to a new report produced by INRIX, a traffic analytics service, and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, travel delays due to traffic congestion nationwide wasted more than 3 billion gallons of fuel, cost $160 billion and kept travelers stuck in their cars for an extra 7 billion hours. Per rush-hour commuter, that’s 42 hours or $960 per year.

Commuters in the Denver Metro area rank above this national average at 49 hours per commuter, wasting 24 gallons of gas with a cost of $1,101 each.

Being on time is also a struggle for Denver Metro commuters: To be on time 95 percent of the time — being late only one day a month — a Denver Metro commuter must plan a trip that takes three times as long during the commute hours rather than light traffic conditions, i.e. a 20-minute drive becoming a 60-minute allocation of time.

According to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, these numbers have been alleviated by the FasTracks RTD transit program. But there’s ample room for improvement.

“While Denver has made some incredible improvements in mobility thanks to FasTracks and the use of ride sharing and alternate transportation, we have a long way to go,” said Kelly Brough, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “We know our state needs to invest in transportation if we want to continue to be a top destination for a highly educated and healthy workforce. Efficiently getting to and from work, school and recreational opportunities is critical to our economic development efforts and quality of life in this region. This report underscores the need for increased investment in transportation across the metro area.”

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