Last year was certainly one for the books in terms of personal transportation. With more employees working from home, remote learning being the norm, and downtown restaurants, theatres and other brick-and-motor establishments shuttered, the number of miles driven in the U.S. plummeted by 82 percent over 2019 levels. Commuters lost just 26 hours in traffic during 2020, which is down from 99 hours in 2019. That’s according to the 2020 Global Traffic Scorecard just released by the transportation analytics company INRIX in Kirkland, WA.
Collisions were down by 30 percent last year, yet traffic fatalities rose by eight percent, largely due to motorists taking advantage of congestion-free roads by driving faster than the posted speed limits.
“COVID-19 has completely transformed when, where and how people move. Government restrictions and the continued spread of the virus led to shifts in travel behavior seemingly overnight,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Morning commutes in cities across the world went without delay as people reduced auto and transit travel to offices, schools, shopping centers and other public spaces.”
Of the most traffic-tied U.S. urban areas, New York leads all comers with commuters spending an average 100 hours lost to congestion last year. As bad as that seems, it’s 28 percent less than in 2019. And it’s not the city having the most clogged roads on the planet. NYC lags behind Bogota, Columbia with an average 133 hours lost to traffic during 2020, and Bucharest, Romania at 134 per commuter. The next tied-up U.S. metro areas, Philadelphia and Chicago, placed fifth and seventh in INRIX’s global traffic tally, respectively
Travel from outlying to downtown areas took a major hit last year, declining by an average 42 percent in major urban areas. Portland Oregon saw the biggest drop in city center trips at a 66 percent decrease, followed by San Francisco (-64%), Washington D.C. (-60%), Detroit (-59%) and Boston (-56%). “Although travel to downtowns has been the most affected by the spread of the virus and subsequent government restrictions, the reduction in congestion has resulted in quicker commutes for essential workers, more reliable deliveries and streamlined freight movement, all of which are vital to the economy,” says Pishue.
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Here’s a list of the 10 most traffic-clogged metro areas in the U.S. and how they stood last year over 2019’s INRIX Scorecard:
- New York City, NY: 100 hours lost (-28%)
- Philadelphia, PA: 94 hours lost (-34%)
- Chicago, IL: 86 hours lost (-40%)
- Boston, MA: 48 hours lost (-68%)
- Los Angeles, CA: 45 hours lost (-56%)
- San Francisco, CA: 47 hours lost (-51%)
- New Orleans, LA: 42 hours lost (-47%)
- Houston, TX: 35 hours lost (-56%)
- Miami, FL: 35 hours lost (-57%)
- Dallas, TX: 34 hours lost (-46%)
As for the busiest stretches of road across the U.S., the Windy City tops the board over the stretch of Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway headed into downtown from I-290/294 to the I-90/94 exchange, though again thanks to the pandemic, with only an average 10 minute delay at peak times, or 41 minutes lost over the course of the year. The following five are all in New York City or San Francisco.
Here’s the list of the 10 most traffic-tied U.S. roads in 2020:
- Chicago, IL: Eisenhower Expy from I-290/294 to I-90/94 Interchange
- New York City, NY: Brooklyn Queens Expy from I-495 to Tillary Street
- New York City, NY: Cross Bronx Expy from Bronx River Parkway to Washington Bridge
- New York City, NY: Brooklyn Queens Expy from 4th Ave/38th St to Hicks St/Old Fulton St
- San Francisco, CA: I-680 from Mission Blvd to Scotts Corner
- San Francisco, CA: CA-4 from I-680 to Willow Pass Rd
- Stamford, CT: Connecticut Turnpike from Saugatuck Ave to Indian Field Road
- Los Angeles, CA: US-101 from New Hampshire Ave to 110 Interchange
- Los Angeles, CA: S La Cienega Blvd from I-405 to West Adams
- Atlanta, GA: I-75 from Langford Parkway to Williams St/Peachtree Pl
Click here to check out the full INRIX 2020 Global Traffic Scorecard.
Source: Forbes – Business