- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Commuters in Louisiana’s capital region spend more time getting to work than many other people across the country, and nearly all of them are driving alone.

Gridlock in Baton Rouge has been a regular criticism among the region’s residents and visitors to the city. A nationwide congestion analysis by The Associated Press shows the grousing about traffic is warranted.

Census data from 2013 shows the average travel time to work for the Baton Rouge metro area commute is higher than the national average, but other regions in the state fall close to or even a bit lower than the national figure.

Of the 195 major metropolitan areas analyzed, four were in Louisiana, covering the Baton Rouge, Lafayette, New Orleans and Shreveport-Bossier City regions.

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STUCK IN TRAFFIC

The more than 369,000 commuters in the Baton Rouge area spent about 26.9 minutes on their way to work, according to the most recent census data, while the typical travel time nationally was 25.8 minutes.

In the New Orleans and Lafayette regions, trips to work were largely in line with the national median. Commutes in the New Orleans metro area took 26 minutes, while they were 25.4 minutes in the Lafayette area.

Shreveport-Bossier City commuters had the shortest trip to work in the state’s metro areas, with a mean travel time of 21.3 minutes.

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FEW JOINING THE CARPOOL

Louisiana’s commuters seem to like their cars, with most making solo trips to work.

Eighty-seven percent of Shreveport-Bossier area’s nearly 194,000 commuters drive alone to their jobs, with fewer than 7 percent joining a carpool.

Similar numbers were seen across all the metro areas.

Nearly 85 percent of Baton Rouge area commuters, 84 percent in the Lafayette region and 79 percent in the New Orleans metro region drive only themselves to work. Only 10 percent of New Orleans and Lafayette area workers carpool to their jobs, and 9 percent in the Baton Region region.

Drive times were higher for carpoolers. The national mean was 28 minutes, and carpool time to work ranged from 19.9 minutes in Shreveport-Bossier to 29.5 minutes in the New Orleans area.

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NOT MANY TAKING THE BUS

Mass transit, not easily accessible across much of Louisiana, wasn’t the favored method of the state’s commuters for getting to work.

About 1 percent or fewer of commuters in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Shreveport-Bossier used the bus or any other available transit to travel to their jobs, according to the data. Of the New Orleans region’s 561,000 commuters, transit use was slightly higher, nearly 3 percent.

But those that did use mass transit had a shorter trip than the 48.7 minute travel time nationally. Transit travel times in Louisiana were 44.6 minutes or less in the four Louisiana regions.

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CHANGE ON THE HORIZON?

U.S. officials warn that congestion will worsen in the next three decades as the nation’s population rises. And while Louisiana has worked on interstate expansions to improve traffic flow, the state has a $12 billion backlog of transportation projects and highway needs and not enough financing on the horizon to make a large dent in the list.

Efforts to boost roadwork funding by billions failed to win support in the just-ended legislative session, in favor of more modest financing maneuvers that will only slightly chip away at the lengthy list of needs.

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