Fewer people are driving downtown since COVID
Americans are still avoiding downtown travel in many cities, a sign that COVID-19 continues to affect when, where and how people move.
The big picture: Traffic congestion is returning to many U.S. cities, but has yet to match pre-pandemic levels, according to new data from INRIX, a mobility research firm. One reason: people aren't making as many trips downtown.
What's happening: Many employees continued to work remotely in 2021.
- San Francisco (-49%), Detroit (-41%) and Washington, D.C. (-38%) continued to see significant reductions in downtown trips compared to February 2020.
- Downtown trips were close to normal, however, in San Antonio (-5%), Tampa (-6%) and Phoenix (-7%).
- Of note: The data includes trips downtown for sporting events, shows and restaurants, not just work commutes.
Nationwide, downtown trips have decreased 22% compared to pre-COVID levels.
The bottom line: The average American driver spent 36 hours stuck in traffic in 2021 — worse than last year — but far below 2019 levels, when drivers wasted nearly 100 hours in traffic.