Chicago is losing billions of dollars searching for parking

AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato

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Traffic in Chicago is known for being horrendous and a new study shows just how much it is costing the city and drivers.

INRIX is a Washington-state based company that tracks real-time traffic information around the globe. They recently released a report from studies in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany, about time spent looking for parking in major metropolitan areas.

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The average Chicago driver in the survey spent nine minutes searching for on-street parking and eight minutes for off-street parking, with an average of eight parking events per week. INRIX calculates this to be 56 hours of search time per year. This costs drivers $1,174 annually, which costs the city $1.3 billion.

The study also looked at average parking rates around the country. Chicago has the most expensive on-street parking, averaging $13 an hour. The average rates in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City are $12, $8, and $7, respectively. Even for off-street parking, the average rate in Chicago is almost $22 an hour. Only New York at $33 and Boston at $26 are more expensive.

The study also shows that because of problems finding parking 32% of drivers in Chicago would avoid driving to shops, 19% would avoid driving to work, 26% to the airport, 17% to seeking medical care, and 22% for leisure and recreational events.

Previously on INRIX, Chicago ranked 19th in the world for most amount of time spent in traffic per year, with the average driver spending 56.6 hours a year stuck in traffic. Nine U.S. cities ranked in the top 20 for this scorecard. Los Angeles ranked number one, with the average driver spending 104.1 hours a year stuck in traffic.

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Considering transportation alternatives like the CTA and Divvy start to look more and more appealing, and perhaps these numbers will give the city something to think about with regards to cycling and public transportation infrastructure.

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