Easy riders? Congestion eases as COVID-19 keeps commuters off the road


As Petula Clark’s 1964 hit single “Downtown” suggests, “When you’re lonely and life makes you lonely, you can always go downtown.” The problem is that nowadays, fewer and fewer people “listen to the music of the city traffic”. Downtown trips in major metropolitan areas across the United States are down 22% on average, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the 2021 Global Traffic Scorecard just released by the connected car services company INRIX in Kirkland, WA, Americans lost an average of 36 hours last year due to freeway congestion, although this is considerably less than the 97 hours before the 2019 pandemic in traffic. The Scorecard is based on a study of congestion and mobility trends in more than 1,000 cities, in 50 countries, including the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States.

But not all urban areas have seen travel times decrease in the past year. While commuters to Washington, DC saw their traffic congestion decrease by 65% ​​in 2019, the largest drop among major US cities, the move to Las Vegas, NV, increased 76% compared to statistics from before the pandemic. It is clear that people working in the nation’s capital have more opportunities to work from home than employees in hotels and casinos.

Travel times among the nation’s busiest trips continue to be dominated by larger cities, including Chicago, IL (at 104 hours per year), New York, NY (102 hours) and Philadelphia, PA (90 hours) Although motorists drive in these market towns, their average journey times are still 27-37% lower from 2019 levels.

“The impact of COVID-19 on transportation continued through 2021, transforming when, where and how people move,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although congestion increased by 28% this year, Americans still saved 63 hours compared to normal, with the most notable change in commuting during the pandemic being the lack of trips downtown. »Closed offices, restaurants and entertainment venues caused the largest reductions in downtown travel in 2020 in Portland, OR (down 66%), San Francisco, CA (60%), Washington , DC (60%), Detroit, MI (59 percent) and Boston, MA (56 percent).

Yet Americans have relatively easy commutes compared to some of their international comrades. Even considering that there have been fewer trips on the roads across Europe in 2020, motorists in London are suffering from the worst traffic jams in the world with an average of 148 hours lost last year not going anywhere fast. , followed by Paris (140 hours), Brussels (134 hours) and Moscow (108 hours).

Here are the 10 worst cities in the United States for traffic jams according to the INRIX 2021 Global Traffic Dashboard, with average annual times spent in traffic per motorist noted:

  1. New York, New York State: 133 hours
  2. Chicago, Illinois: 138 hours
  3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 112 hours
  4. Boston, Massachusetts: 164 hours
  5. Miami, Florida: 66 hours
  6. Los Angeles, CA: 128 hours
  7. San Francisco, California: 116 hours
  8. Houston, TX: 58 hours
  9. New Orleans, LA: 63 hours
  10. Atlanta, Georgia: 53 hours

Here are the 10 most congested road sections in the United States with the average time wasted traveling at snail speed last year:

  1. Los Angeles, CA: I-5 from Euclid to I-605; 89 hours
  2. New York, New York State: I-278 BQE from I-495 to Tillary St; 77 hours
  3. Orlando, Florida: I-4 west of Beachline Expy to FL-429; 74 hours
  4. Bridgeport, Connecticut: I-95 CT Turnpike North. from Unquowa Rd to NY-8; 72 hours
  5. Dublin, California: I-580 East from Foothill Rd to Airway Blvd; 62 hours
  6. Stamford, Connecticut: I-95 north from Riverside Ave to Hillspoint Rd; 61 hours
  7. Orlando, Florida: US-17 south of US-192 at The Oaks Blvd; 59 hours
  8. Miami Florida: I-95 Express North from I-195 to 51st St; 57 hours
  9. New York, New York State: I-95 Cross Bronx Expy South from I-278 to Arthur Blvd; 55 hours
  10. Los Angeles, CA: I-10 Santa Monica Freeway East from Washington Blvd to I-110; 54 hours

You can read the full results of the INRIX 2021 Global Traffic Dashboard here.


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