Feb 6, 2024 - Transit

Traffic in downtown Portland is getting worse

Average travel time by car, 2023
Data: TomTom; Note: U.S. overall includes an average of 80 cities; Chart: Axios Visuals

Portland may lag other cities as far as its downtown economic recovery — but new data shows it's beating a lot of them when it comes to time stuck in traffic.

What's happening: The average 6-mile trip in Portland's city center took 39 seconds longer last year — increasing to 13 minutes and 41 seconds —compared to 2021, according to data from TomTom.

  • Out of 80 other U.S. metros analyzed in the report, Portland was #15 on the list of cities experiencing the greatest downtown slowdowns.

Zoom out: Car commutes have largely gotten slower across America since the mid-pandemic era — likely a reflection of increased traffic as more people head back to the office at least some of the time.

  • Traffic slowed most significantly in Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston between 2021 and 2023, based on the average time spent traveling 6 miles in their respective city centers.
  • In D.C., that 6-mile trip took 97 seconds longer last year compared to 2021; in New York, it took 87 seconds longer; and in Boston, it took 86 seconds longer.

The big picture: While corporate leaders' efforts to get employees back at their desks full time have mostly fizzled, the work-from-home era's heyday is undoubtedly behind us.

  • WFH rates in Portland dropped 15% from 2021 to 2022.
  • The result: More car traffic as the rush-hour rat race continues.
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