Jul 25, 2022 - News

Richmonders are commuting again

Illustration of a hand guiding a computer mouse on a highway-themed mouse pad.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Richmonders are commuting again, at the highest rate at any time during the pandemic.

Driving the news: Annual transactions on the three toll roads managed by Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority hit 55 million for the latest fiscal year, according to preliminary figures shared with Axios for July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

  • That's a 16% year-over-year increase.
Annual traffic on Richmond's toll roads
Data: Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, but: Transactions are still down from their pre-pandemic high of around 65 million annually.

Why it matters: It's one of the best data points we have showing Richmonders might be getting back to normal with their daily commuting habits, particularly on the toll roads used to commute into downtown and the business district.

  • Around 53% of all jobs in the city are downtown, according to a report from Venture Richmond.
  • And 80,000 people worked downtown pre-pandemic.

Of note: Nationally, the share of Americans working remotely because of COVID-19 leveled off to around 7%-8% a month from April through June, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick reported this month.

  • In January, it was 15.4% of workers.

Zoom in: The Downtown Expressway — the largest commuter artery into Richmond — saw a 37% drop in transactions during the pandemic — the largest drop of any of RMTA's roads.

  • And it has seen the biggest recovery, with transactions up 27% in the last 12 months, RMTA auditor Paula Watson tells Axios.

What we're watching: The majority of workers, 87% in this recent McKinsey survey, would prefer to continue working remotely, at least some of the time.


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