Urbanites generally consider Austin the coolest city in Texas, if not America. It has a great university, great music, hip and trendy restaurants and bars, unique shops and a booming tech economy. It also has god-awful traffic for a city its size.
Metro Austin has 2 million people. All of them seem to be driving on Interstate 35 all the time. Getting across town east-west is even worse because there’s really no main route. Bus service is just OK, and there’s only one light rail line. (Voters shot down an expansion of the rail system a couple of years ago.)
No matter how cool it is — and how urban its core may be — Austin is really just an overgrown suburb. And it’s not the only one. Nashville has many of the same problems. Atlanta’s traffic problems are legendary. And in Southern California, Orange County may be an economic powerhouse, but it’s also a transportation backwater with the same population as neighboring San Diego but only half as many freeway miles.