Travel time data generated by the Houston TranStar Traffic Monitoring System is used to assess regional travel conditions for operations and planning of the region’s transportation network. A high-level summary of the weekday data (Monday-Friday) by year is presented below.
Traffic
Year 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011

2022 Highlights

  • The majority of freeways saw increased travel times and travel delay in 2022 versus 2021.
  • Overall travel delay increased 61% in the AM and 31% in the PM over 2021.
  • Overall delay is still below what it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but has continued to increase since 2020. Travel delay peaked in the Houston region in 2018-2019 and delay levels this year are similar to levels seen in 2016. These charts show the average travel delay per mile on Houston area freeways from 2012-2022 in both the AM and PM periods.
  • Routes that were congested for the largest percentage of time in the AM in 2022.
  • Route% Time Congested (5am-12pm)
    IH-69IH-69 Southwest Inbound from IH-610 West Loop to Downtown50%
    IH-45IH-45 North Inbound from Beltway 8 to Downtown46%
    IH-610IH-610 West Loop Southbound from Shepherd to Stella Link39%
    IH-610IH-610 North Loop Westbound from Gellhorn to Shepherd39%
    IH-45IH-45 Gulf Inbound from Beltway 8 to Downtown36%
  • Routes that were congested for the largest percentage of time in the PM in 2022.
  • Route% Time Congested (12pm-7pm)
    IH-69IH-69 Southwest Inbound from IH-610 West Loop to Downtown100%
    IH-610IH-610 West Loop Northbound from Stella Link to Shepherd64%
    IH-610IH-610 West Loop Southbound from Shepherd to Stella Link64%
    IH-610IH-610 North Loop Westbound from Gellhorn to Shepherd54%
    IH-45IH-45 Gulf Inbound from Beltway 8 to Downtown50%
  • See the full data summary here.

2021 Highlights

  • As people adapted to life during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 saw increases in travel time and travel delay across the majority of freeways in the Houston region when compared to 2020. However, congestion has still not risen back to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Overall travel delay increased 57% in the AM and 59% in the PM over 2020.
  • Despite the travel delay increases from 2020 to 2021, delay is still 50% less in the AM period and 32% less in the PM period than it was in 2019 before the pandemic began. Travel delay in 2021 is near the same level it was at the beginning of the 2010s. These charts show the average travel delay per mile on freeways in Houston from 2012-2021 in both the AM and PM periods.
  • There is a larger discrepancy in travel delay between the AM and PM periods in 2021 than seen in the past. Typically, the PM period has 2x delay of the AM period. However, in 2021 the PM period has nearly 3x the travel delay of the AM period.
  • Routes that were congested for the largest percentage of time in the AM in 2021.
  • Route% Time Congested (5am-12pm)
    IH-45IH-45 North Inbound from Beltway 8 to Downtown39%
    IH-610IH-610 North Loop Westbound from Gellhorn to Shepherd36%
    IH-45IH-45 Gulf Inbound from Beltway 8 to Downtown32%
    IH-69IH-69 Southwest Inbound from IH-610 West Loop to Downtown29%
    IH-610IH-610 West Loop Southbound from Shepherd to Stella Link25%
  • Routes that were congested for the largest percentage of time in the PM in 2021.
  • Route% Time Congested (12pm-7pm)
    IH-69IH-69 Southwest Inbound from IH-610 West Loop to Downtown100%
    IH-69IH-69 Southwest Outbound from Downtown to IH-610 West Loop79%
    IH-610IH-610 West Loop Southbound from Shepherd to Stella Link64%
    IH-610IH-610 West Loop Northbound from Stella Link to Shepherd61%
    IH-45IH-45 Gulf Inbound from Beltway 8 to Downtown46%
  • With the construction concluding on SH-288, the time spent congested has been almost eliminated and traveler delay has decreased, even from 2020 levels.
  • See the full data summary here.

2020 Highlights

  • The reduction in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in reduced travel times and travel delay across all freeways in the Houston region when compared to 2019.
  • Overall, travel delay per mile was reduced by 65% in the morning and 60% in the afternoon versus 2019.
  • As of January 2021, average speeds are still well above their typical values on most freeways. This chart shows the average monthly weekday speeds from 6 AM to 9 AM on I-10 Katy Inbound. The trends shown in this chart, where speeds begin increasing in March and remain that way for rest of the year, are fairly typical of all freeways in the Houston region.
  • Here are the freeway sections with the most dramatic reductions in delay.
    • SH-288SH-288 Inbound from SH-6 to Downtown in the morning – Average delay reduced by 7 minutes.
    • IH-45I-45 North Inbound from Beltway 8 to Downtown in the morning – Average delay reduced by almost 8 minutes.
    • IH-45I-45 Gulf Inbound from Beltway 8 to Downtown in the morning – Average delay reduced by almost 8 minutes.
    • IH-69 I-69 Southwest Outbound from Downtown to IH-610 West Loop in the afternoon – Average delay reduced by 8 minutes.
    • IH-610I-610 Northbound from Stella Link to Shepherd in the afternoon – Average delay reduced by over 11 minutes.
  • I-45 Gulf Inbound from Beltway 8 to Downtown went from being congested almost half the day in 2019 to virtually no congestion in 2020.
  • Despite the overall reductions, the I-610 West Loop is still congested over 40% of the afternoon in both directions between Stella Link and Shepherd. I-69 Southwest between Downtown and the I-610 West Loop is also congested 60-70% of the afternoon and results in an average of 1.5 minutes of delay per mile per traveler.
  • See the full data summary here.

2019 Highlights

  • Overall, freeway congestion levels remained relatively similar to 2018 with some exceptions.
  • With construction beginning to wrap up, congestion on US-290 was reduced dramatically. Travel delay was reduced by almost 5 minutes during the morning commute and over 7 minutes during the afternoon commute compared to 2018. Since 2015, the delay on US-290 inbound during the morning commute has been reduced from over 17 minutes to less than 2 minutes. Overall, 290 was congested 20% less time than it was in 2018.
  • I-69/US-59 Southwest inbound between the I-610 West Loop and Downtown is congested for most of the day. The outbound direction is congested 75% of the time between noon and 8 pm which is 21% higher than 2018. This segment of roadway showed the largest increase in congested time over 2018.
  • On average, the traffic is heaviest from 7 AM to 8 AM in the morning and from 5 PM to 6 PM in the evenings.
  • See the full data summary here.