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Just How Bad are Peninsula Commutes?

A new study says the San Francisco commute is one of the worst in the nation; the Silicon Valley isn't much better.

Commuters know Bay Area highways morph into glorified parking lots in the morning and evening, on holidays and weekends, and pretty much any time you actually need to be some place on time. 

Now a new study has the data to back up the brake lights.

San Francisco-Oakland ranked No. 2 of the 101 cities in 2011 data for the amount of extra hours of travel due to congestion for the average auto commuter. San Jose was in the top third at 28th, according to the Urban Mobility Study released this month.

The report, produced by the Texas Transportation Institute, rates worst areas for traffic congestion in the United States. Washington, D.C., was named the most-congested for the fourth year in a row.

Peak-hour commuters spend 89 hours waiting in San Francisco-Oakland traffic and burn 37 extra gallons of fuel each year. They lose 39 hours stuck in traffic annually in San Jose and use 17 extra gallons of gas, the study showed.

For the first time, the report includes a Planning Time Index (PTI), which measures the amount of extra time drivers need to arrive on time for events such as appointments, airplane departures or cargo shipments.

A routine 20-minute trip in San Jose will take 69 minutes during peak commute times and nearly 75 minutes in San Francisco or Oakland, according to the PTI calculations.

“We all understand that trips take longer in rush hour, but for really important appointments, we have to allow increasingly more time to ensure an on-time arrival,” researcher Bill Eisele told the Miami Herald. “As bad as traffic jams are, it’s even more frustrating that you can’t depend on traffic jams being consistent from day to day.”

The upshot? Well, San Francisco isn't really getting worse. The city has been rated among the top-three worst commutes in the nation for the past decade. San Jose has improved substantially since 6th and 8th place ratings a few years ago.

Do you think Peninsula roadways have gotten more congested? What do you do to ease your commute? Tell us in the comment section below.

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