Boston Highway Travel Times

I moved out of the Boston area in July 2004. At that time, I discontinued monitoring Boston traffic. I will, however, keep this page up. If anyone is interested in continuing where I leave off, please contact me.

I drive from Norton, MA, to Boston University every day for work. Consequently, I am often stuck in traffic. I am a constant user of SmarTraveler to get travel times on the routes I take. I am also a Road Reporter for SmarTraveler to help keep them up to date.

Being from MIT and a scientist, I started to wonder about trends in traffic and the travel times along the various highways I use. My husband Bill wrote a java program to pull time travel times off of the SmarTraveler website and store them on my computer. I started running the program on July 12, 2002. Currently, it queries the SmarTraveler website every 10 minutes (their approximate update time). It does not run outside of SmarTraveler's operating time (6am - 10pm) or on weekends (although SmarTraveler does operate then).

The data are stored with a "julian date", a time, the route number (like on the SmarTraveler phone menu), and the two travel times (N/S or E/W). The "julian date" starts incrementing with January 1, 1 A.D. as day 1. The time is the number of minutes since midnight. If you are interested in the data for your own uses, just email me:

I have written a simple C program to analyze the data. I check each time to make sure it's not bogus and shorter than is possible at the speed limit. Then it does a simple summary of the travel times for each route and direction within the morning rush hour (6am - 10am), evening rush hour (3pm - 7pm), and at other times. It also averages the travel times at each 10 minute increment, using a moving 30-min box.

Here are the routes I am monitoring:

Now for some results, from July 12, 2002, through 5pm on June 4, 2004.

The summary:

ROUTE 1: 932
Northbound mean travel time: 24.3 min. (am) 19.1 min. (pm) 14.0 min. (other)
std deviation: 0.1, 0.1, 0.0
Southbound mean travel time: 12.0 min. (am) 22.7 min. (pm) 12.9 min. (other)
std deviation: 0.0, 0.1, 0.0
39407 entries
ROUTE 2: 90
Eastbound mean travel time: 62.0 min. (am) 54.4 min. (pm) 51.1 min. (other)
std deviation: 0.2, 0.1, 0.1
Westbound mean travel time: 50.6 min. (am) 60.4 min. (pm) 50.7 min. (other)
std deviation: 0.1, 0.2, 0.1
32718 entries
ROUTE 3: 953
Northbound mean travel time: 26.5 min. (am) 24.4 min. (pm) 21.6 min. (other)
std deviation: 0.1, 0.1, 0.0
Southbound mean travel time: 23.0 min. (am) 31.7 min. (pm) 22.0 min. (other)
std deviation: 0.1, 0.1, 0.0
38441 entries
ROUTE 4: 24
Northbound mean travel time: 23.5 min. (am) 17.8 min. (pm) 17.9 min. (other)
std deviation: 0.1, 0.0, 0.0
Southbound mean travel time: 17.5 min. (am) 21.8 min. (pm) 17.8 min. (other)
std deviation: 0.0, 0.1, 0.0
37333 entries
ROUTE 5: 954
Northbound mean travel time: 31.4 min. (am) 26.8 min. (pm) 25.8 min. (other)
std deviation: 0.1, 0.0, 0.0
Southbound mean travel time: 25.4 min. (am) 29.1 min. (pm) 25.7 min. (other)
std deviation: 0.0, 0.1, 0.0
36877 entries

Here's a graph of the averages per time increment for July 12, 2002, through 5pm on June 4, 2004:

Dates purposely not included: Thanksgiving Day 2002, Christmas Day 2002, New Year's Day 2003, Patriots' Day 2003, Memorial Day 2003, Independence Day 2003, Labor Day 2003, Thanksgiving Day 2003, Christmas Day 2003, New Year's Day 2004, Patriots' Day 2004, Memorial Day 2004


Now, to break the data down by date and by route.

Here are summaries of each route over time:

Here are summaries of each month of data for all routes: Here is a breakdown of the routes for each day of the week (excluding weekends).

Here is are some of my analyses so far, now that I've accumulated over a year of data.

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