Why Is Traffic So Bad In Florida?
April 12, 2016
In 2015, the Sunshine State became the third most populated state in the United States. And all those people are compacted into a relatively small space.
Even though Florida has more than 50,000 square miles of land, nearly 60 percent of the state’s population lives in less than 5 percent of it. Florida’s residents are packed in and around the state’s thriving metropolitan areas, including Orlando, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. No wonder Floridians and visitors are facing clogged roadways!
With these dense populations, commuters paid the price in time. And it wasn’t a matter of a few minutes. Drivers in Orlando and Miami lost an average of 38 hours in 2010. That equates to a mind-blowing total of approximately 269 million hours wasted in traffic. In fact, when it comes to the worst traffic in the United States, South Florida took the 11th spot out of 498 metro areas in 2013 — four notches worse than the year before.
It’s not just all about wasted time — it also comes down to wasted dollars and cents. Across just 439 urban areas throughout the United States, congestion costs reached $101 billion from 2009 through 2010. Florida alone accounted for a whopping $5.6 billion in 2009. Let’s not forget the environmental impact, too. With all this congestion, drivers in Florida wasted 116 million gallons of excess fuel.
It Can’t Just Be the Dense Population, Can It?
If you’re driving in South Florida, you’re facing traffic that is pointedly worse than other parts of the state. Ask any South Florida resident, and bets are good that they’ll tell you South Florida traffic isn’t a laughing matter. The average resident takes one hour and 48 minutes to cover a route that should only take 30 minutes. Yikes!
Sure, the dense population in South Florida plays a huge role, but can it account for it all? If you said no, you’re right. There are other factors that contribute to the state’s aggravating and costly traffic, including:
- Not enough highways: Florida’s state highways account for only 10 percent of the state’s network of roads, yet they carry 54 percent of day-to-day traffic.
- More commuters than the national average: Almost 90 percent of working Floridians used their personal vehicles to get to work every day in 2014. Florida beat the national average by 3.1 percent.
- An increased number of drivers and vehicles: In 2015, the number of people licensed to drive by the state of Florida swelled to 15.6 million, up 1.3 percent from the previous year. Here’s the catch: Although only 7 percent of Florida’s households don’t own vehicles, the total number of registered passenger cars, trucks and motorcycles increased to 13.9 million in 2014, marking a year-to-year increase of 2.5 percent.
- Not enough people using the public transit system: Across the nation, public transit systems provided about 5.2 percent of commuter trips in 2014. Florida’s numbers are even worse. Only 2.1 percent commuter trips in 2014. Here’s the kicker: 79 percent of the state’s population lives less than a mile away from a transit service station!
- Drivers traveling more: The number of vehicle miles Florida drivers racked up during 2014 was up 4.3 percent compared to 2013. Per person, that equated to a 3-percent increase.
- A crazy large number of visitors: In 2014, 98.7 million visitors flocked to the sunshine state, 4.9 percent more than the previous year. That breaks down to one visitor for every five residents. And who blames them? Besides the world-class beaches, Florida is also home to the world’s top tourist destinations, golf resorts, shopping destinations, and unparalleled weather year round.
Traffic in Florida: More Than Just Annoying
Let’s face it. Traffic is expensive on state, regional and individual levels. More cars on the roads means increased wear and tear on city streets and highways. It also attacks your wallet. The longer you sit in traffic, the more fuel you waste, without making much forward progress. If you’re late to work, traffic can cost you lost wages or even your job.
While traffic has quantifiable costs, it also has consequences that aren’t as easily measured. One of these consequences is increased stress levels. Want a sure-fire way to increase your stress level? Try sitting in traffic. Better yet, try sitting in traffic when you’re running late for work or a scheduled event.
Avoiding Traffic — It’s Easier Than You’d Think
Whether you’re dealing with Miami traffic or congestion in another part of the state, it may seem like avoiding it is impossible. It’s like the taxes of commuting. Turns out, there are a few tricks to get you out of some traffic jams:
- Identify alternate routes of travel: This one seems like a no-brainer. If the roads you normally use to get to work are frequently bogged down with traffic, take a few minutes to map out alternate routes. Keep in mind that the more widespread a report of traffic becomes, the more likely it is your alternative routes will become busy. Beat these odds by having more than one alternative route.
- Become a traffic-report junkie: If you’re not a traffic-report junkie, now’s the time to convert. Your local news station or traffic-reporting smartphone app can hold the keys to a drastically shorter commute. Like a wise sensei, they can give you the wisdom you need to avoid congested areas. You’ll know where problem spots are before you encounter them. Once you’re on the road, don’t think you’re in the clear. Keep checking the reports, so you can adjust your route as needed. Two good ones to check out are Waze and View2Road. The icing on the cake is that they are free.
The Best Way to Skip Traffic? Skip the Car
If you want to eliminate the time you spend sitting in traffic, ditch your car. Using an alternate form of transportation can save you more than time — it can also save you money.
Before you grab the keys, think about a better way to get there:
- Walking: Of the 5,148 urban, non-limited access centerline miles included as part of Florida’s State Highway System, 64 percent of them have accommodations for pedestrians. If you live near one of these roadways and close enough to your employer, join the 124,000 Floridian workers who walked to and from work regularly in 2014.
- Biking: Floridians are hitting the pavement on two wheels and without a motor at increasingly fast rates — 10.4 percent more over the year before, to be exact. That equates to 64,000 more Floridians taking their bikes to work. And for good reason! Of the nearly 10,000 miles of Florida State Highway System, 74 percent are bike-friendly.
- Using public transportation: In addition to skipping the traffic, you’ll be maximizing your time and decreasing your stress. Instead of fighting through the rat race on the way to work, why not sit back and relax? Let someone else do the heavy lifting.
Brightline: A Brighter Future for Florida Drivers
In 2017, there will be another option, thanks to Brightline. This privately funded and independently operated train service is reinventing the idea of travel with:
- Better connectivity: Brightline is connecting the major hubs of Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. It’s also giving commuters super easy access to local transportation options once they step foot off the train. It’s the door-to-door connectivity that today’s drivers can only dream of.
- Amenities that anticipate your needs: Our Brightline designers and planners have outfitted their brightly colored trains with amenities that make more sense. Plenty of electrical outlets, free Wi-Fi, a social car, generous leg room and more. Say goodbye to dreading your commute. With Brightline, you’ll look forward to sitting in comfort, as you get whisked away to your destination.
- Easy service: Get your tickets with a few clicks of the mouse. Change your seat on a whim. Brightline makes travel the way it should be: super simple.
- Train stations that offer it all: Brightline’s train stations are revitalizing downtown areas and bringing retail, office space and housing to densely populated areas. With their forward-thinking stations, people will actually go to the station to do more than board their trains. They’ll go to shop, dine, meet up with friends and more. When you do wait for your train, you’ll wait in a lounge with super comfy seats, free Wi-Fi, delicious fare, and more.
Take Brightline and take back your commute. You can get some extra work hours in. Even smarter, you can cut your office hours down by doing work on the train. Need a break? You got it with Brightline. Spend your travel time relaxing, whatever that means to you. Chat with friends, binge-watch your favorite show, take a nap.
Brightline Destinations Are Ripe With Fun
Brightline currently has four destination cities on its horizons: West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami in the first phase and Orlando in the second phase.
Hop aboard Brightline to visit Miami, the birthplace of Pitbull and home of MTV Latin America. If you depart from Orlando, Brightline will cut your travel time down considerably. You’ll arrive at MiamiCentral in around three hours.
Thanks to Brightline’s frequent departures, you can explore this colorful city with leisure — without having to worry about missing your return trip. Go ahead and take in the city’s museums, such as the Perez Art Museum. Shop at Lincoln Road or Dolphin Mall. Catch a Miami Heat game at American Airlines Arena. The arena just happens to be super easy to get to from MiamiCentral.
Traveling to Fort Lauderdale? Rest assured you’ll be well-entertained. Visit Everglades Holiday Park, and you may just see them filming the popular “Gator Boys” TV show. You can also try your luck at Gulfsteam Park and the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. May is one of the best times to visit this city, because that’s when the city hosts the Fort Lauderdale Air Show. Enjoy the show and beat the traffic by traveling on Brightline. As a bonus, you won’t have to worry about trying to find a parking space on the crowded streets.
Of course, there’s no shortage of things to do in West Palm Beach,home of Florida’s only drive-thru safari. West Palm Beach’s CityPlace offers high-end dining and shopping, an IMAX theater and bowling. Annual events hosted by this “old money” city include the Honda Classic, the Palm Beach International Boat Show, the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival and Sunfest, a popular five-day music festival.
In addition to being the home of Disney World and other world-renowned theme parks, Orlando will soon be the host city for Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando Resort’s first water park. Orlando will also have a multi-purpose soccer stadium in its downtown area soon. The stadium will hold up to 28,000 fans and be the home of the Orlando City Lions.
With so much to do and see in its initial four destination cities, Brightline has clearly chosen destinations that have as much potential for fun as the railway itself. Whether you use Brightline to get to the office, your next day trip or an overnight vacation destination, Brightline will get you there.