By Gary Richards, San Jose Mercury News

In 2016, drivers faced 144 hours’ worth of congestion-related delays in the San Jose metropolitan region, up from 92 hours just two years ago, according to the annual TomTom Trafäc Index released Monday.

The global report confirmed that traffic remains a mess in California, with Los Angeles holding firm to its ranking as the most congested big city in the United States, followed by San Francisco at No. 2 and San Jose at No. 5.

“Traffic is a fact of life for every driver,” Tom-Tom’s Nick Cohn said. “The problem isn’t going away.”

During peak hours, the extra travel time in the South Bay increased by 14 minutes daily, from 24 minutes in the last report a year ago vs. 38 minutes now. The worst time to be on the freeway? Thursday afternoons, when the South Bay has the third-worst evening commute nationwide, behind Los Angeles and Seattle.

The report by Amsterdam-based TomTom was one of two released Monday by companies that specialize in trafäc analytics and navigation devices. The other, by Inrix of Kirkland, Washington, lumped some cities into regions. Using that approach, the San Francisco-San Jose region ranked fourth globally when it came to drivers who experienced the most hours sitting in congestion during peak commuting periods last year.

“Urban densities in California have been steadily rising, but the circumstances needed to achieve major travel changes are not yet optimal,” said Erik VanSlyke of TomTom, who added that the 74 percent who drive alone to work must consider changing habits, such as trying a different departure time to avoid peak commute times, änding a less-crowded route, or getting out of the car and biking, walking or taking a bus.

Bay Area planners — with new transportation project funding coming from a Santa Clara County sales tax increase — are focusing on express lanes, more transit options and interchange upgrades, plus more housing near train stations.

In terms of worldwide rankings, Mexico City tops the TomTom list, followed by
Bangkok, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro and Moscow. Inrix puts Los Angeles at the
head of its global worst list.

The top 10 most trafäc-congested cities in the United States in 2016, as determined by analytics firm TomTom.
1. Los Angeles
2. San Francisco
3. New York
4. Seattle
5. San Jose / South Bay
6. Miami
7. Portland, Oregon
8. Honolulu
9. Washington, D.C.
10. Boston

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