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Today's number: 38

Robert Harbison / The Christian Science Monitor /FILE

(Read caption) Commuters take to the crowded LA freeways after work.

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The average urban American peak commuter spends an extra 38 hours stuck in traffic.
[Source: Texas Transportation Institute]

That's the equivalent of listening to Stairway to Heaven 285 times. It also amounts to 26 gallons of wasted fuel, and an extra 520 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted into our atmosphere.

The Texas Transportation Institute's 2007 Annual Urban Mobility Report found that cities of all sizes are facing increased congestion. Everywhere, from Anchorage to Akron to Atlanta, trips take longer, streets are clogged for more of the day, freight shipments are delayed, and travel times are getting less reliable.

"There is no 'magic' technology or solution on the horizon because there is no single cause of congestion," said Tim Lomax, one of the report's authors. "The good news is that there are multiple strategies involving traffic operations and public transit available right now that if applied together, can lessen this problem."


Obviously the greenest option is to ditch the car and bike, skate, or walk to work. The next best thing is to join the growing number of Americans who are taking public transit. According to the American Public Transportation Association, public transit ridership, reduces America's carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons each year. That's the equivalent of completely cutting off electricity for every household in New York City, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles.


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