It’s no surprise that cities where limo services are the most popular also tend to be places where there’s the worst gridlock. I’m not suggesting a cause and effect here; it’s just a fact of life that where limos are popular, there’s likely to be a lot of traffic. And a lot of frustration for owners, drivers and clients.
Los Angeles came top of a recent study into the most congested cities in the world, with the average driver was 104 hours a year stuck in traffic jams. Overall, that adds up to a cost to the economy of almost $300 billion – a phenomenal amount of money that surely could be put to better use.
Next on the list of gridlocked cities is Moscow, to which I can personally attest, having been stuck in a car for five hours once on what should have been a 75-minute journey from the airport to the Hilton in the city center. Now, the car I was in was very nice, but let’s be frank: there ain’t a lot to look at out the window of a limo in Moscow.
New York and San Francisco also top the list of traffic congestion, with NY drivers stuck in traffic for an average of 89 hours a year. The average San Francisco motorist had to tap their steering wheel in frustration for 83 hours, by contrast.
All this is bad news for fleet operators and drivers. Wasted time in traffic drives up costs massively, leading to a requirement for more cars and more drivers which, inevitably, just add to the initial problem. It’s a vicious cycle.
And all of this is passed on to the customer, who faces rising costs for their journey. Something’s gotta give.
Adding to the problem, without a shadow of a doubt, is the rise of Uber. For decades, Americans have been car-pooling, reducing the overall number of vehicles on the roads. But the easy availability of rides in the form of Uber has reversed that trend, meaning that there are more cars on the roads with fewer people in them. It’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for cities, and, ultimately, it’s bad for the car industry.
Some might think I’m hypocritical in calling out Uber for adding to the problem while ignoring the impact of limos on city streets, but I don’t think I am. Limo services and charter hire cars are professional modes of transport that have been around for a very long time, providing an iconic American service. Can you imagine a Hollywood star stepping out of a crappy Uber onto the Oscars red carpet? There’s a reason why the limos exist.
But unless something changes, our nation’s roads are going to look more and more like parking lots, and we’re going to spend more of our time in our cars than where we want to be.
Now if you’re in the back of my limo, that’s not so bad, ’cause it’s a pretty sweet place to hang out. But I’m a realist, and I know that even though you’re having a good time, you still want to get to your destination as quickly as possible. And so do I, so that I can move on to my next booking.
It’s time we got serious about fixing our traffic problem before it’s too late.