Just How Bad are Napa Valley Commutes?

A new study says the San Francisco commute is one of the worst in the nation; the Silicon Valley isn't much better.

Commuters know Bay Area highways morph into glorified parking lots in the morning and evening, on holidays and weekends, and pretty much any time you actually need to be some place on time. 

Now a new study has the data to back up the brake lights.

San Francisco-Oakland ranked No. 2 of the 101 cities in 2011 data for the amount of extra hours of travel due to congestion for the average auto commuter. San Jose was in the top third at 28th, according to the Urban Mobility Study released this month.

The report, produced by the Texas Transportation Institute, rates worst areas for traffic congestion in the United States. Washington, D.C., was named the most-congested for the fourth year in a row.

For the first time, the report includes a Planning Time Index (PTI), which measures the amount of extra time drivers need to arrive on time for events such as appointments, airplane departures or cargo shipments.

A routine 20-minute trip in San Jose will take 69 minutes during peak commute times and nearly 75 minutes in San Francisco or Oakland, according to the PTI calculations.

“We all understand that trips take longer in rush hour, but for really important appointments, we have to allow increasingly more time to ensure an on-time arrival,” researcher Bill Eisele told the Miami Herald. “As bad as traffic jams are, it’s even more frustrating that you can’t depend on traffic jams being consistent from day to day.”

The upshot? Well, San Francisco isn't really getting worse. The city has been rated among the top-three worst commutes in the nation for the past decade. San Jose has improved substantially since 6th and 8th place ratings a few years ago.

Do you think Napa Valley roadways have gotten more congested? What do you do to ease your commute? Tell us in the comment section below.


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BonV February 06, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Before I moved up here, five years ago, I stayed at a hotel in American Canyon on Hwy 29. I was in Napa looking at houses and left at about 5 pm to go back to the hotel. The traffic was bad so I waited an hour before returning to Napa. Slightly after 6 pm the Hwy was empty. The last time that I drove through American Canyon I left my place at 6:15 traveling on Hwy 29. I reached Hwy 12 about 5-10 mins later. From Hwy 12 it took 40 minutes to get to American Canyon Road - that's about 5 miles. The short answer is if I want to leave Napa I either have to leave before 3 pm or after 6:45 pm.
Darcelle Pollastrini February 07, 2013 at 02:01 AM
I commute to Vacaville and every morning I see a long line of cars coming through Jamison Canyon into Napa. In the afternoons I see a similar long line of cars leaving Napa. I am assuming that means that there are jobs here, decent enough to sit in that, but for the life of me I can't figure out what they are.


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