March 2024

Houston Traffic Woes: METRO Podcast Dives Deep Into Congestion

Traffic near downtown Houston.


As Houston-area residents, we all know the frustration of being stuck in traffic. The latest data from TomTom confirms our shared experience, revealing that we lose a significant chunk of time during rush hours, and the situation may only get worse in the coming years.

In a recent interview on METRO's podcast, The Next Stop, Andy Marchant from TomTom joined host Doug Delony to discuss the company's Traffic Index, which provides insights into the impact of traffic on nearly 400 cities worldwide. Houston, unfortunately, doesn't fare well in these rankings.

A look at TomTom's Traffic Index for the United States reveals that Houston comes in at number 11 in terms of congestion level percentage. Globally, Bayou City came in at number 312 — with the average speed during rush hour being a mere 23 miles per hour. For every six miles driven during rush hour, Houstonians lose 56 hours per year sitting in traffic.

A TomTom graphic detailing Houston traffic patterns and stats.

TomTom’s Traffic Index provides insights into the impact of traffic on nearly 400 cities worldwide. According to the index, the Bayou City came in at number 312. (graphic courtesy: TomTom)

Houston's traffic congestion is a significant concern. Extended commute times can affect productivity and overall quality of life.

So, what exactly is TomTom, and how is the data gathered? The company provides data to various organizations and companies, including car and mobile phone manufacturers, governments, and cities. TomTom collects information from approximately 600 million connected devices worldwide, tracking their movement via GPS signals to analyze traffic patterns and speeds.


During the conversation, Delony and Marchant highlighted the broader implications of time wasted in traffic, noting how it affects productivity and has financial and environmental consequences. The index also highlights the cost of fuel and emissions associated with prolonged periods of sitting in traffic.

Driver view of freeway traffic.
The Cost of Congestion: Time wasted in traffic can not only impact productivity but can also have financial and environmental implications.

While the data suggests that traffic conditions in Houston may worsen in the short term, Marchant said there is hope for improvement.

Initiatives such as public transit, carpooling, and alternative work schedules could potentially alleviate the burden of traffic congestion. Importantly, small changes in our commuting habits, such as choosing public transit or carpooling on specific days, can have a significant collective impact in reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.

The data from TomTom's Traffic Index paints a vivid picture of the challenges that the residents of the Houston area face when it comes to traffic congestion. As the region grapples with these issues, exploring innovative transportation solutions and encouraging behavioral changes among commuters could pave the way for a more efficient and sustainable traffic landscape in Houston and the surrounding area.

You can listen to the full interview on our website.

Browser not supported

It appears you’re on an older web browser we don’t support. Please try one of the options below so you can view the METRO website.