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Boston traffic ranked fourth worst in the world, study says

Traffic jams Route 93 South in Boston.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The average Boston driver spent 134 hours stuck in traffic last year, making the famously gridlocked city the fourth worst in the world in terms of bumper-to-bumper delays, according to an annual study from INRIX, a transportation analytics company.

The 134 hours of delays endured by the average Boston driver were just behind third-ranked Paris, where drivers in 2022 lost 138 hours on average due to traffic jams, the study found. Number two was Chicago, where motorists logged 155 hours in traffic. The worst of more than 1,000 major cities reviewed was London, where the average Brit faced 156 hours of gridlock.


“It is great to see civic and commercial life returning to normal, but unfortunately, we’re seeing congestion inching closer to, if not exceeding, pre-pandemic levels,” study author Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst, said in a statement.

“We must manage congestion while improving mobility and accessibility in cities to avoid it hurting economic recovery and impacting the quality of life of commuters and residents,” Pishue said.

Rounding out the 10 most congested spots for drivers were Bogota, Colombia, at 122 hours lost to traffic for the average driver; Palermo, Italy, at 121 hours; Toronto at 118; New York City at 117; Monterrey, Mexico, at 116; and Philadelphia at 114.

In Boston, the cost of congestion per driver last year was $2,270, according to the study, which was released Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation said INRIX’a report accurately reflects the department’s own data and observations around traffic in the Boston area.

“Our engineers are continuing to identify and implement a variety of options that improve safety, access to multimodal transportation options, and that ease congestion,” the spokesperson, Jacquelyn Goddard, said in an e-mail. “MassDOT additionally works to improve municipal roadways through targeted grant opportunities.”

A city of Boston spokesperson struck a similar note, telling the Globe in a statement that time spent stuck in traffic “keeps drivers away from family, friends, and work. As our economy and City continue to grow, we can’t rely solely on cars. The only way to reduce the amount of traffic is to create reliable, affordable, and safe alternatives. The City is working to improve other modes of transportation like public transit and biking so they can become viable options for people.”


One idea to alleviate traffic is expanding road tolls to encourage drivers to choose mass transit instead.

“Greater Boston has one of the worst levels of traffic congestion in the nation, the MBTA struggles with safety and unreliable service, and roads and bridges throughout the state are in poor condition,” Tom Ryan, senior advisor on policy, government, and community affairs for A Better City, a Greater Boston business organization, said last week in the Globe’s “The Argument” section.

Ryan said a “fresh look at highway tolling is necessary and should start by acknowledging the current approach is unfair. ... We can expand tolling into new locations fairly by including discounts for low-income drivers and residents living near tolls.”

Such a plan, Ryan said, “can support infrastructure projects that reduce traffic, improve air quality, and create better alternatives to driving.”

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at