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Los Angeles Traffic

When Los Angeles was founded in 1850, it had a population of just over 1,600. Today, about 9.5 million people live in Los Angeles and the suburbs that surround the city. The Los Angeles area is the second most populated area in the United States.

So how do all those people get to work, go to school, and visit friends? The answer is “very slowly.” Most people in Los Angeles travel in cars. As a result, roads are clogged. There are simply too many people going too many places. Traffic jams caused the average Los Angeles driver to spend 93 hours stuck in traffic in 2003. That's the worst traffic record of any U.S. city.


Fixing traffic snarls has become a top goal of the city's government. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (vee yah rah GOH sah) was elected in 2005. One of his first tasks on the job was to name himself head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The MTA provides public transport on vehicles such as buses and subways.

Taking the Bus

Taking public transport is often cheaper than driving and paying for gas, parking, and tolls. However, buses and trains are late sometimes. Stops may be far from where people live or want to go. Travel by public transport can take longer than by car. For those reasons, many people would rather drive. Other people would rather ride a bus or subway. “Now I get the train and read the paper or do some work,” Alex Thatcher told USA Today.

Whether residents like public transport or not, Los Angeles will need more bus and rail lines. Another 6.3 million people are expected to move to the area by 2030. More cars will add to traffic problems. “Los Angeles has a history of [relying too much] on the single-passenger automobile,” says Mayor Villaraigosa, “and we're going to have to change that history.”