Your evening commute has multiple personalities

Average freeway speeds change by day of the week

No one ever launched a restaurant chain called T.G.I. Mondays. Maybe they should. 


We analyzed daily speed data from 18 segments of Los Angeles freeways to find the weekday with the fastest evening rush-hour speed.


Monday won by a landslide: In all 18 cases, it had the fastest speeds during the 5-7 p.m. slot.


The slowest? Thursday, with Friday as a close second.


Thursday was the slowest weekday for nine of the 18 freeway segments. Friday was the slowest for another seven.


See our story on the fastest days for the morning commute.


The difference between fastest and slowest days can be significant. 


On the 110 heading north toward Downtown from the intersection with the 105, the average Monday evening speed is 41 mph. On that same freeway on an average Friday, it moves at just 31 mph, 24% slower.

Why is the evening commute on Thursday and Friday so much worse? Happy hour might have something to do with it. The tail end of the work week is when more people head to bars and restaurants, staying out, driving more miles and clogging the roads.


Just ask Eddie Jones, the owner of Dublin’s Whiskey Pub in Downtown Los Angeles. Mondays are dead quiet. But business ramps up throughout the week. 


“Thursdays and Fridays are the most popular days,” Jones said. “It’s fairly consistent.”


Denyse Ruggiero, owner of the 901 Bar and Grill in University Park, tells a similar tale about her establishment. 


“We have the greatest happy hours I’ve ever seen on Wednesdays through Fridays,” she said. Mondays, she cautions, are on the slow side. 


With more people out on the roads, freeways get busier and commutes get slower. 


Art Wong, a frequent commuter on the 405, often has to schlep his kids to hockey games, heading north over the Sepulveda Pass. 


“We’ve had to go to games and be up in Valencia by 7 p.m.,” he says. “I think Friday nights take the longest.”


The takeaway? Go out to eat on Monday. The roads are faster, and you’ll definitely get a table at that snooty restaurant, making for a better time all around. And if you’re looking for a day to call in sick, make it a Thursday. 



How we did it: We divided freeways into 18 different evening commutes across Los Angeles County. Then, we analyzed the average speeds on those freeway segments for between February and June 2018 by hour of the day and then by day of the week. We then calculated the average speeds during the peak of the evening rush hour (5-7 p.m.).


Learn more about how Crosstown compiles its traffic data.


Questions about a specific freeway or commute?


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