ATL's Friday Commute: What's Up With That?

Jun 6, 2014

If it's Friday, and it's the afternoon, there's a good chance you’re stuck in traffic.  

But there’s an equally good chance you weren’t stuck in traffic earlier the same morning.  In a word, Atlanta's Friday traffic is enigmatic.  

For commuter Stephanie Saxon, Friday is the best of drives.  It’s the worst of drives.

Credit WABE

“I shouldn’t divulge how fast I drive," she laughs as she talks about her quicker-than-normal Friday AM trek. 

Monday through Thursday, it takes Saxon about 40 minutes to get from Atlanta’s Old 4th Ward neighborhood to her job in Kennesaw; on Friday, that takes just 25 minutes.  

On the flip side, coming home? “It’s pretty clogged," Saxon says. "It feels like there’s people going places.”

There are people going places, and a lot more in the afternoon compared to in the morning. 

So how is it the lightest morning commute of the week can turn into the heaviest afternoon trek?

“You can really predict where people’s minds are on a Friday, " says GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale. She says that's because most days, we go directly home from work. 

But not on Friday.

“[Commuters] go from work, to meet some friends for dinner, maybe out to a movie, and then they’ll go home," she says. 

Add in a good number of out-of-towners passing through, and going home at the end of the week is definitely a slower proposition. 

This isn’t anecdotal, by the way.  A traffic research firm collected data from GPS and embedded road sensors. It found most cities’ commute times jump Friday afternoons. 

In fact, Atlanta’s increase isn’t that bad.  We rank 22nd, well behind places like Portland and even Baton Rouge.