Minneapolis-St. Paul traffic commutes are longer than ever

One underrated facet of commuting in the Twin Cities is how much time you get to spend hating your fellow citizens in the dark.

One underrated facet of commuting in the Twin Cities is how much time you get to spend hating your fellow citizens in the dark. David Joles, Star Tribune

...but if you're reading this from your desk after driving your sorry ass in to work, perhaps you already knew that.

New data posted by the Minnesota Compass research organization shows people in the Twin Cities metro are taking longer than ever to get to work: 56 hours of "delay" in traffic, per person, per year, as of 2017.

The figure measures "extra time spent traveling at congested speeds rather than free-flow speeds," meaning those minutes you're stuck crawling along—or STOPPED, HOW IS TRAFFIC NOT EVEN MOVING, WHO STOPPED UP THERE AND WHY, IF IT'S LITERALLY STOPPED HOW WOULD IT EVER START MOVING AGA—

Ahem. The average of 56 hours lost to commuting is a slight increase from 2015's count of 54 hours, and a 10-hour rise since 1999's figure of 46 hours. Traffic times are on a steady incline over the years: Drivers lost an estimated 30 hours in 1992, 20 in 1987, and just 12 hours of road time in 1982, the first year covered in Compass' chart.

The data captures a 16-county metro area stretching to western Wisconsin, and, as explained by Compass, could reflect "positive trends, like a booming economy," though better design and management of how commuter traffic flows can still result in the same number of cars spending less time inching along next to each other.

The data's based on a newly released "urban mobility scorecard" produced by Texas A & M, which finds that commute pain in the Twin Cities lands somewhere in the middle of similarly sized American cities.

Drivers in Milwaukee (46 hours of congested road time per year) get to work more smoothly than we do, while those in Austin, Texas or Portland, Oregon (both at 66 hours annually) are getting considerably more time to contemplate just how much they personally despise every single person who lives in their area and has the unforgivable audacity to go to work in the morning.

The country's biggest cities of all are even worse: Commutes in worst-in-the-nation Los Angeles (119 hours lost in traffic), San Francisco (103 hours), and Washington, D.C. (102) all measure more than double Minneapolis-St. Paul's time.

Twin Cities drivers' extra drive time consumes an average of 18 gallons of gas and costs them an average of $980 per person annually. 

By now we suspect some of you have broken your phone screen to pieces, stomped the pieces into bits, been escorted from the building, and are now back in the parking lot for yet another journey, though this time without your phone, your reputation, and the lunch you left in the fridge.

Or maybe you're one of tens of thousands of Twin Cities workers who are hardly affected by any of these numbers. Almost a quarter of Minneapolis residents get to work using transit, a bike, or their own two feet, according to a recent study, and total vehicle miles traveled actually went down slightly (2 percent) from 2007 to 2016, despite an increase of about 30,000 new people. 

The cut is credited, in part, to an influx toward denser areas in the city, meaning a shorter, more accessible commute to an office by bus, bike, or even walking. If you're one of those people, apologies, as the above information was of very little to use to you, outside schadenfreude.

Do check the fridge, though. That guy who just got dragged out by security left his lunch.