BOSTON (CBS) – One of the pleasures of summer in the city around here is the way the place clears out.

School is out, the buses are off the roads, and by the time we get to this point in July, it feels like half the population is fighting the traffic on Route 6 down the Cape, the Pike, or I-95.

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It’s a beautiful thing. There’s plenty of parking, and even rush hour commutes are much easier than usual.

Or at least, they used to be.

Is it just me, or does it seem to you that we aren’t getting our summer break from the horrible Boston-area traffic?

It took me more than 15 minutes Tuesday morning to travel two miles on residential streets in Cambridge. Last night I spent 45 minutes driving from Brighton to Belmont, a ride that shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes at most.

And enquiring minds want to know – what is going on?

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I haven’t checked the latest registration figures from the RMV but my guess would be there are more cars and trucks on the road than ever before. Maybe that’s a good thing, a sign of economic health. Maybe it’s a bad thing, a symptom of declining interest in public transportation.

Or maybe it’s just an annoying thing.

That’s definitely the case with the quality of the driving I’m seeing, the usual offenses – driving too fast, driving too slow, straddling two lanes, on the phone texting – but more of them.

Much more.

So I guess we face a couple of choices.

We can decide to live with the situation and learn to accept a frustrating crawl every time we need to get somewhere. Or we can put out the call for innovative solutions.

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Maybe, someday, we can at least get our stress-free summers back.