It probably is no surprise for some to see Miami and traffic in the same sentence.
The average driver spends nearly thirty minutes in traffic. But a new study done by Florida International University reveals how all that congestion is costing the region as well.
The study shows Miami has the 12th worst traffic congestion in the country. The nearly 80 percent of residents who rely on a car for transportation spend 105 hours a year in gridlock.
All that time wasted costs the region around 4 billion dollars a year in productivity - pushing Miami’s economic capacity to its limits. The study’s co-author, Steven Pedigo, says those losses are limiting area’s innovative potential - discouraging startups and larger corporations from bringing their business here.
“Unless [Miami] is investing in its transportation system, it literally will become stuck,” Pedigo says, adding that Miami has already reached a population of five million people. Urban scientists say once a metropolitan city surpasses five million people, its transit system becomes vital for further economic growth.
However, the issue does not come down to just traffic. Miami also suffers from a lack of public transportation options. Only three percent of workers use public transportation. Over the last three years public transit ridership in Miami-Dade County declined by twenty three percent.
The reason, according to Pedigo is the inability for South Florida to connect the inland suburbs with the economic core of Wynwood, Brickell and downtown Miami.
The study suggests South Florida invest in better bus routes, improve its carpool lanes, and consider congestion pricing, a strategy that would charge commuters to drive in specific local areas.