Report by Equinox Center says traffic congestion in San Diego County is on the rise

ENCINITAS, Calif. - If you are seeing more brake lights in front of you on the highway, you are not alone. In a report obtained by Team 10 ahead of its release, new numbers show congestion on local roadways is on the rise.

Manisha Moorjani has waited in it.

"My commute is 30 minutes, but in past year it's increased to 45 minutes," said Moorjani.

She is not alone. According to the research group Equinox Center, after four years of good news, congestion is climbing.

The latest numbers released are from 2011. Local drivers spent about 38 hours a year stuck in traffic, which is an increase of one hour from the year before.

Sarah Benson, who is with the Equinox Center, said one reason is less unemployment.

"People are going back to work in San Diego, so we're seeing more commuters out on the roadways," said Benson.

San Diego County drivers are still in better shape compared to Los Angeles drivers, who spend about 60 hours every year stuck in traffic. Still, Los Angeles drivers are faring better in one way.

"We think of Los Angeles as the driving capital of the United States, but the truth is in San Diego, we drive more than residents of Los Angeles," said Benson.

Local drivers now average more than 13.5 highway miles a day, which is about 3 miles more than drivers in Los Angeles County.

Benson said a main factor is public transit. In Los Angeles, more than 6 percent of commuters choose public transit. In the San Diego area, that number is less than half at 3 percent.

The public transit debate is now front and center after a judge ruled that SANDAG's 40-year transportation plan for the region did not do enough to reduce air pollution. Critics argued the plan did not focus enough on public transit. SANDAG disagreed, but it appears it will change its plan.

Another program that could help with the congestion is a large-scale bike sharing program in San Diego later this year.

10News is partnering up with Equinox Center to look at quality of life issues leading up to its release of its annual dashboard report on Thursday.  For more information on the traffic congestion issue, visit EquinoxCenter.org.

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