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Honolulu home to nation's 3rd worst traffic congestion

Honolulu home to nation's 3rd worst traffic congestion

May 21, 2015

If you live in the Islands, you probably know already, but for the record: Honolulu has some of the worst traffic congestion in the United States. Not only is it bad, it’s gotten worse.

The latest measure of traffic congestion comes from the Tom Tom Traffic Index, a GPS navigational instrument company which measures traffic congestion around the world. Tom Tom says Honolulu ranks third behind Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, in the U.S.

Because of congestion, Honolulu-area drivers who have a 30-minute commute each day waste a total of 88 hours, or nearly four full days, stuck in traffic each year, the Star Advertiser says.

The problem is getting worse. A recent Honolulu Star Advertiser report indicates that congestion in Honolulu increased three percent from 2013 to 2014.

Honolulu’s overall congestion level – the increase in overall travel times when compared to a free-flow, i.e., uncongested, situation – is 32 percent. The congestion level in Los Angeles is 39 percent and 34 percent in San Francisco. It is 58 percent in Istanbul.

Given the limited land space on Oahu and the fact that Hawaii is a great place to live or visit, it’s no surprise that our roads are crowded.

Unfortunately, this congestion leads to aggressive driving and car accidents causing injuries.

It’s little comfort, but we should note that Tom Tom’s worldwide survey puts Honolulu at number 43 overall, and that L.A. only makes it into the world’s top 10 by taking the last spot. Istanbul, Turkey, is the most congested city in the world, according to Tom Tom.

Honolulu’s congestion level during the peak of morning rush hour is 51 percent, which is the same as in Seattle, Washington, and ranks fourth behind San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. The evening’s peak congestion level in Honolulu is 68 percent, which is the same as in San Francisco and Houston, Texas, which ranks fourth behind Seattle, San Jose, and Los Angeles.

The best times to commute in Honolulu are Monday evenings and Friday mornings, while the worst are Tuesdayand Wednesday mornings and Friday evenings, the Star Advertiser’s analysis says.

This year, the Index reveals that evening rush hour is the most congested time of day on virtually every road network, Tom Tom says. If you have to drive during rush hour, you can expect to spend double the free-flow commute time in the car, on average, stuck in traffic.

Tom Tom says its data is based on actual GPS measurements from TomTom’s historical traffic database. For some cities they also use GPS data from other companies, such as AutoNavi. The sample size for each city is expressed in terms of total vehicle distance driven for the period.


INRIX®, a provider of transportation information and driver services, compiled a list of the most congested traffic corridors in metropolitan areas across North America and a number of interstate highways in Hawaii made the list. They include:

  • Interstate H 1 from Koko Head Avenue to HI-61
  • Interstate H 1 from Paiwa St. to Moanalua Rd.
  • Interstate H 201 from Kaua St. to H 1 in Aiea
  • Interstate H 1 from HI-78/Middle St. to St. Vineyard Blvd.
  • Interstate H 1 from Aolele St. to Moanalua Rd.

The peak traffic congestion is during the 5 p.m. rush hour on Thursday.

One thing motorists can do is consult the website The app can be downloaded to a smart phone and enables motorists to plan your routes so you have a better idea of what to expect.

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