Equinox Project Assesses Traffic in San Diego County

How much time are commuters delayed in traffic?

A major concern for San Diegans is traffic. No one likes to sit in their car stalled on the freeway. It takes away from being with friends and family, causes unneeded stress and can even affect our health. After all, didn’t many of us move to San Diego so that we didn’t have to drive in L.A. or Orange counties?

So how are we doing?

The average San Diego commuter now travels almost 29 vehicle miles per day to and from work on the freeway, a nearly one-half mile increase from 2016 to 2017. Although the distance traveled barely increased, commuters are spending more time in traffic – average commuting time in traffic rose from 18 hours in 2016 to more than 19 hours in 2017 –  meaning traffic is getting worse.

How does that compare? San Diegans travel more freeway vehicle miles annually per commuter than the state average and other major urban counties, including Los Angeles.  

What can we do?

One way businesses and government agencies can encourage employees to stop commuting alone is to offer a "parking cash-out" program. Employers offer workers a cash stipend to cover carpooling or public transit costs in lieu of free parking, cutting the expense of building or leasing parking spaces. Studies show that when instituted, significant percentages of employees will make the shift, resulting in reduced air pollution and traffic congestion.

Another approach to reducing traffic is to build housing near public transit systems. The city of San Diego’s Affordable Homes Bonus Program reported early success in 2017 with increased applications for development of new multifamily housing with increased affordable units. That’s because in exchange for building additional affordable units, developers are allowed greater unit density and relief from off-street parking requirements in areas near transit systems.

Traffic, alternative transportation and vehicle miles traveled are just a few of 15 indicators tracked in the Equinox Project’s Quality of Life Dashboard. New information about these regional metrics will be released on Thursday, April 19. Check out how San Diegans compare when it comes to employment, housing, renewable energy and more.