Despite Its Drop, Highway Traffic in County Still Frustrates Commuters, Motorists


The economy of the Bay Area sizzles, while traffic inches at a colder pace. Slower commutes have been very prevalent recently because people have come running towards the less expensive bedroom communities.

There are about 587,000 vehicles entering the Bay Area every weekday, according to the MTC or Metropolitan Transportation Commission. In 7 years, traffic is now at its highest level, increasing to 34% since 1992 based on the report of MTC. However, Highway 17 traffic has not grown the same pace with other gateways, not getting bad as it was.

Many people were back to work after the recession, staggering the times that they leave home to work in the morning, and taking the public transit. However, fewer cars on Highway 17 are not equivalent to a breeze, specifically on summer weekends and southbound at the night time.

Congestion seems to continue, while accidents happen often. More people are now taking the bus, avoiding stress and enjoying the Wi-Fi at the same time. The ridership increases over 11,500 in the previous year. Commuter Sahil Handa said taking the bus is cheaper and more comfortable.

Meanwhile, housing is at the core of the traffic shift. The average home price in the city costs $755,000, while the county is considered the 5th most expensive metro area within the nation for renters. The county is growing, but not as much as cheaper markets, according to the report of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Jovy Viray, another commuter said she has been commuting for a long time now, dealing with it as it is something that is inevitable while you’re in the area. However, she emphasized how she disliked those who tend to cut in front, not considering they’re in traffic and there’s nowhere else to go.

Traffic in Highway 1 increase 11% between 1993 and 2005 as 107,000 drivers congested the main road, but traffic dropped 10% by 2013 during the recession. Supervisor John Leopold, chairperson of the RTC questioned if people are being smarter, regarding their commutes because fewer cars does not mean there are enough cars gone.

Motorist Elizabeth Reed said the commute seems longer in several directions, but the evening southbound commute has become longer than in the morning. Reed drives home from work, which is a 7-mile journey.

Highway 1 has been the main focus for the frustration about congestion in the county for years now, while transportation agencies are thriving and revving up their efforts in alleviating the traffic.

This week, a new poll was released, indicating that 73% of voters in the 2016 elections will support a half-cent sales tax in funding the maintenance of local roads, long-term planning, and public transportation to accommodate traffic.

At the end of the day, people care about relieving the congested traffic, but do not think there’s an immediate solution to it. County officials, on the other hand, worry about the funding sources for transportation and the dwindling has tax revenue, hence, they have been pressing for new local revenues.

The tax might potentially fund the passenger service as another study was released this week, indicating the feasibility of phased implementation of rail services, allowing riders to hop on it by the year 2025.