The New York-Newark region is considered the worst in the nation for traffic congestion, according to a new report.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim region in California had held the unfortunate title for decades in the annual report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, but now folks in New Jersey can legitimately complain about having the worst traffic.

Researchers say it's too soon to tell whether the NY-Newark's bump to No. 1 is a temporary thing due to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on 2020, or whether the health crisis has changed the travel landscape in a way that will keep Newark and its neighbors at the top of the list for years to come.

"It's pretty much every measure, no matter if you're talking about hours of delay, hours per commuter, wasted fuel — all of those things, New York-Newark was number-one in the COVID year," said report author David Schrank, senior research scientist at TTI.

Drivers in the region were delayed by a total of 494,268 hours in 2020, according to the report. The average commuter spent 56 hours in traffic throughout the year, and consumed 23 gallons of fuel due to delays.

According to the Urban Mobility Report, 2021 is seeing the fastest increase in traffic levels since 1982, the report's first year. But, Schrank said, car volume and congestion has not yet returned to 2019 levels.

"The morning rush is down still, significantly, we're seeing a little bit more congestion in the middle of the day ... and even on the weekends," Schrank said. "The p.m. rush is coming back."

Compared to 2019, daily commuter traffic dropped by almost half in 2020, the report said. In the NY-Newark region, the drop was around 42%.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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