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FHWA Home / Policy & Governmental Affairs / 2002 Conditions and Performance

Conditions and Performance

Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2002 Conditions and Performance Report

Executive Summary
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Executive Summary
Part I: Description of Current System
Ch1: The Role of Highways and Transit
Ch2: System and Use Characteristics
Ch3: System Conditions
Ch4: Operational Performance
Ch5: Safety Performance
Ch6: Finance

Part II: Investment Performance Analyses
Ch7: Capital Investment Requirements
Ch8: Comparison of Spending and Investment Requirements
Ch9: Impacts of Investment
Ch10: Sensitivity Analysis

Part III: Bridges
Ch11: Federal Bridge Program Status of the Nation's Bridges

Part IV: Special Topics
Ch12: National Security
Ch13: Highway Transportation in Society
Ch14: The Importance of Public Transportation
Ch15: Macroeconomic Benefits of Highway Investment
Ch16: Pricing
Ch17: Transportation Asset Management
Ch18: Travel Model Improvement Program
Ch19: Air Quality
Ch20: Federal Safety Initiatives
Ch21: Operations Strategies
Ch22: Freight

Part V: Supplemental Analyses of System Components
Ch23: Interstate System
Ch24: National Highway System
Ch25: NHS Freight Connectors
Ch26: Highway-Rail Grade Crossings
Ch27: Transit Systems on Federal Lands

Appendix A: Changes in Highway Investment Requirements Methodology
Appendix B: Bridge Investment/Performance Methodology
Appendix C: Transit Investment Condition and Investment Requirements Methodology
List of Contacts

Ch 4: Operational Performance


Since the last edition of the C&P Report, FHWA has adopted three new measures of operational performance. These measures clearly show congestion is increasing throughout the Nation.

Percent of Additional Travel Time:
Percent of Additional Travel Time is an indicator of the additional time required to make a trip during the congested peak travel period rather than at other times of the day. In 2000, an average peak period trip required 51.0 percent more time than the same trip under non-peak, non-congested conditions. In 1987, a 20-minute trip during non-congested periods required 25.8 minutes under congested conditions. The same trip in 2000 required 30.2 minutes, or an additional 4.4 minutes. Between 1987 and 2000, the percent of additional travel time grew fastest in urbanized areas with a population between 1 million and 3 million.

Annual Hours of Delay:
Annual Hours of Traveler Delay is an indicator of the total time an individual loses due to traveling under congested conditions. Cities with less than 500,000 population experienced the greatest percentage growth in the average annual delay experienced by drivers, from 4.8 hours in 1987 to 15.2 hours in 2000-an increase of 217 percent. Drivers in cities with populations under 500,000 were experiencing close to the same delays in 2000 as communities with populations between 1 million and 3 million in 1987.

Percent of Travel Under Congested Conditions:
Percent of Travel Under Congested Conditions is defined as the percentage of traffic on freeways and principal arterial streets in an urbanized area moving at less than free flow speeds. Congested travel increased from 31.7 percent in 1992 to 33.1 percent in 2000. Based on this measure, the congested period, or "Rush Hour," increased from 5 to 5.3 hours per day over this period-approximately 18 minutes. For urban areas with populations greater than 3 million, 40.4 percent of daily travel in 2000 was under congested conditions.


Average bus speed has remained relatively constant over the past decade, while rail speeds have declined very slightly from their peak in 1991, reflecting growth in the utilization of systems with heavy use and slower speeds.

Travel Speed: The average operating speed of all transit modes in 2000 was 19.6 miles per hour, down from 20.3 in 1997. The average speed for rail modes was 24.9 miles per hour, and the average of non-rail modes, 13.7 miles per hour compared with 26.1 and 13.8, respectively, in 1997.

Vehicle Utilization: Vehicle utilization is measured as passenger miles per vehicle adjusted to reflect differences in the capacities of each type of vehicle. On average, rail vehicles operate at a higher utilization level than non-rail vehicles. Between 1997 and 2000 vehicle utilization for rail vehicles increased while decreasing for bus and demand response vehicles.

Vehicle Utilization Passenger Miles per Capacity-Equivalent Vehicle

1997 2000
Heavy Rail
Commuter Rail
Light Rail
Demand Response

Frequency and Reliability of Service: Waiting times vary according to the type of passenger making the trip. Passengers with limited incomes and without access to a private vehicle have the longest average waiting time (12.1 minutes); passengers with above-poverty incomes without access to a private vehicle have a slightly lower average waiting time (8.9 minutes); and those with access to a vehicle, but who choose to use transit (often to avoid road congestion), have the lowest average waiting time (7.3 minutes).

Seating Conditions: Seating conditions, measured by the percentage of passengers who find a seat unavailable upon boarding, are slightly worse for those with lower incomes and without access to a car.

Page last modified on November 7, 2014
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