Q: When is rush hour in Austin?

When you think ‘rush hour’ you usually think between 6 and 9 am during the morning commute and between 4 and 7 pm at night.  During the work week, I-35 heading north in South Austin south of Ben White is always the first to back up (unless there’s a crash elsewhere) and that usually starts around 6:30 am.

The TomTom Traffic Index has a helpful tool that provides drivers, city managers and policy makers with statistics on congestion levels in 403 cities across 56 countries on 6 continents. It’s kind of fun to poke around and look at what other cities and countries are dealing with when it comes to congestion. Or maybe it’s just fun for me, as a person who analyzes traffic every day. (without having to actually sit in it, thank goodness)

Okay, so here’s where Austin is at according to research gathered by TomTom:

  • M-F morning: traffic is really thick at 7 am and hits its peak at 8am
  • M-F evening: traffic begins around 3 pm during the week and hits its peak at 5 pm. Traffic is lightest on Friday mornings but experiences early levels of congestion at noon. Are y’all taking half days on Fridays or what?

Another interesting trend I noticed is that the evening congestion gradually starts earlier and earlier as the week progresses. On Mondays perhaps more people are motivated to stay in their offices and work until 4 or 5 pm but by mid-week, they sneak out a bit earlier.   

When it comes to extra travel time during peak hours: an extra 12 minutes is added to a 30 minute trip in the morning and an extra 19 minutes is added to a 30 minute trip in the evening.

I believe we see more traffic in general during the evening commute because more people are out and about at that time that don’t necessarily work a 9-5 job.

Want to geek out on the research?