September 4, 2009 / 4:54 AM / 8 years ago

LA residents feel commuter pain the most

3 Min Read

<p>Traffic passes downtown Los Angeles on the 10 freeway November 19, 2005.Lucy Nicholson</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Los Angeles has the sun, sea and Hollywood but its residents experience some of the worst commuting in the country, according to a new poll.

In an IBM survey of 4,446 drivers in 10 U.S. metropolitan areas, Los Angeles ranked at the top of the commuter pain index, ahead of Washington DC, Miami, Chicago and Boston.

It scored high marks on 10 key commuting complaints including time, traffic, congestion, stress, anger and impact on work in the survey designed to gauge the emotional toll of commuting.

New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth and Minneapolis-St Paul were in the bottom half of the index.

"The causes of traffic congestion are many, and experts agree there is no 'one size fits all' solution," IBM said in the report.

Start-start traffic was the most frustrating aspect of commuting with 44 percent of drivers naming it as their main complaint, followed by 32 percent who listed aggressive or rude drivers.

More than a third of drivers said they had canceled trips in the last month because of the anticipated traffic.

Although 52 percent of people said road traffic had gotten worse in the last three years and 16 percent think it is much worse, the figures are an improvement on last year's poll when 63 percent complained of deteriorating conditions.

"Even though this has been one of the most painful recessions in recent history we have seen a marginal drop as far as the commuter pain is concerned," said Rizwan Khaliq, an executive at IBM who was involved in the survey.

It showed that economic worries and the recession have forced nearly a quarter of drivers to change how they commute to work. Thirty percent have increased their telecommuting days, 17 percent are carpooling more often and 26 percent are taking public transport more frequently.

"Because of the economic downturn people are, in fact, driving less," Khaliq added.

Atlanta drivers reported the lowest percent of carpooling and Washington had the highest. In Boston, Washington and San Francisco, use of public transport was high while Los Angeles had the lowest number of people working from home.

The average driver in the U.S. spends more than 100 hours a year commuting. People living in New York have the longest commute time, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. They spend an average of 38.4 minutes getting to work, five minutes more than people living in Chicago and 10 minutes more than those in Boston.

Given the chance to cut their commuting time, more than half of drivers said they would spend more time with family and friends. Thirty seven percent would use the extra time for recreation or exercise, and 33 percent would sleep more.

Editing by Steve Addison

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