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Report: Congestion costs the city millions

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Millions in lost time and revenue

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Congestion in Philadelphia has cost the city and its riders millions of dollars and millions of hours of lost time, according to a new study the city put out Monday.

The study, conducted by Philly-based Econsult Solutions, looks at how congestion, which they note is, “a signal of success, with population and job growth increasing demand for travel across the city,” has affected taxpayers and riders.

According to the report, 9.7 million hours are lost by bus and car passengers sitting in traffic every year. Along with that, 15,700 potential jobs and $1.08 billion potential earnings are associated with lost productivity as a result of congestion in the city.

When it comes down to cost, the report says $152 million in annual time value and transportation costs is associated with delays. Meanwhile, there’s $21 million in additional SEPTA costs to operate a bus at the same level of service, but with slower speeds.

“If not controlled, congestion threatens to short-circuit economic growth by reducing the attractiveness of Philadelphia as a place to live and do business,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

The report comes just months after the city announced a widespread effort to combat congestion, starting with Center City. The anti-congestion plan, which was announced in September, sees members of the parking authority, the police, and SEPTA, step up their enforcement of traffic and parking laws in Center City, especially. Mayor Kenney called Center City akin to “midtown Manhattan,” in terms of congestion in a press conference last fall.

SEPTA’s general manager Jeffery Knueppel says that congestion negatively affects the quality of bus services, leading to fewer riders taking the bus. In turn, that brings more cars to Center City’s streets, just exacerbating the congestion problem, he says.