The conurbation is known for its massive congestion, which have become an icon in the image of the region. According to itypemba, nn absolute terms, Los Angeles has the most traffic jams in the United States, 12% more than the second conurbation; New York City. There are several reasons for the enormous traffic jams. The main reason is the fact that the road network has barely grown in capacity since the mid-seventies, while the population of the agglomeration increased by 8 million. Another cause is the soaring house prices in Los Angeles and Orange County, which has caused a mass migration to the Inland Empire (San Bernardino & Riverside County), while the job supply in that region is limited and strongly focused on manufacturing and other low-skilled jobs. The easternmost suburbs are more than 100 kilometers from the center, causing huge traffic flows on the east-west highways.
Another problem in the agglomeration is that the motorway network is relatively thin, the population density is nowhere really high, but it is consistent, so that even far outside the center there are relatively high densities of 2,000 to 3,000 inhabitants per km². This causes stronger traffic flows in the suburbs than in, for example, the conurbations on the east coast of the United States, such as New York or Philadelphia. Due to the mountainous nature of the conurbation, traffic is heavily concentrated on a limited number of highways, particularly from the San Fernando Valley and beyond to the Los Angeles Basin, and from the Inland Empire to the Los Angeles Basin and Orange County. Traffic volumes of 300,000 vehicles per day or more are no exception. Los Angeles has one of the lowest number of lane kilometers measured by population in the United States. In 1999 this amounted to 0.674 lane kilometers per 1,000 inhabitants. The average traveler is stuck in traffic for 72 hours a year. 12% of commuters carpool, the highest share in the country.
This ensures that the level of service is on D, E or F during wide peak periods. The peak periods have broadened over time, starting as early as around 5:30 am until 11 am, and starting to increase again around 2 pm, lasting until after 7 pm. It is in fact no longer reasonably possible to avoid the rush hour, although the first hour of the morning and evening rush hour is not that bad. Because the motorways are very wide, long-term stationary traffic is not a very common phenomenon, but due to the large distances in the agglomeration, travel times increase considerably. Despite this, the travel time in Los Angeles is not the highest in the United States, the average travel time is in New York City slightly higher, as well as in Philadelphia and Chicago. Travel times are particularly long from the Inland Empire, where 1 to 2 hours one way is common. The use of HOV lanes has long been seen as a good solution, but nowadays they are just as fixed as the general purpose lanes. Despite this, carpooling is much more popular in the region than in other areas. Almost all motorways have HOV lanes (carpool lanes). Toll projects are under consideration and have already been implemented on some highways, such as the Riverside Freeway. The toll here can be almost $15 for a 15-kilometer stretch and depends on how busy it is. On the Harbor Freeway and San Bernardino Freeway are also toll express lanes.
Despite its extreme congestion (Los Angeles has topped the travel time index since the early 1980s), Los Angeles does not have the longest commute time despite its massive geographic size. The average commute in the metropolitan area of Los Angeles is 27 minutes, shorter than New York City (33.1 minutes), Washington (30.9 minutes), Chicago (29.7 minutes), Atlanta (29 minutes), Boston (27.3 minutes) and Miami (27.1 minutes). This is due to the fact that Los Angeles has a relatively small center, and the jobs are therefore better distributed throughout the urban area, and are therefore closer to the inhabitants. Between 1982 and 2007, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased by 34.2%, but congestion increased by 104.2%.
The number of bottlenecks is large, and congestion occurs throughout the agglomeration. Highly problematic is Interstate 405 in both directions between the San Fernando Valley and LAX airport. The Santa Monica Freeway is also often blocked in both directions. Also problematic is the Santa Ana Freeway between Los Angeles and Santa Ana in both directions. The east-west highways Interstate 210, Interstate 10, State Route 60, and State Route 91 are problematic in the morning heading west and heading east in the afternoon.
US 101 is problematic heading east for I-405 and heading south on the portion of the Hollywood Freeway during the morning rush hour, and vice versa during the evening rush hour. A major bottleneck is State Route 14 in Santa Clarita. Due to the growth of the desert cities north of the city, merging onto I-5 towards Los Angeles is very problematic during the morning rush hour. In Orange County, I-405 around Mission Viejo and before Long Beach is problematic. North-south routes such as State Route 55 and State Route 57 are not as problematic as other highways, but they do have congestion. Further west, the north-south routes are problematic, especially Interstate 110, Interstate 710 and to a lesser extent Interstate 605.
Although Los Angeles is known for its car dependency, it is actually not much different from most other major US cities. While cities in the eastern US have a larger network of rail lines for passenger transport, in Los Angeles this mainly consists of buses. Los Angeles County has 2 subway lines, 3 light rail lines, and 191 bus lines. 1.6 million people use it every day. During rush hours, 2,000 buses run at the same time. In the other counties the offer is more limited. 72% of commuters only drive to work, 12% have a carpool and 7% use public transport. About 4% of travelers are choice travelers, but uses public transport. The bicycle plays almost no significant role. The high temperatures, long distances and limited cycling infrastructure make this an uninteresting alternative. However, more and more buses are equipped with bicycle racks. Over 3% of commuters walk to work, and walking for leisure is comparable to other US cities. There is a significant backlog in the maintenance of the sidewalks.