Feb 13, 2024 - News

Richmonders' commutes are getting longer

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

Richmond commute times have increased since 2021 — but you probably already noticed.

Driving the news: The average 6-mile trip in Richmond's city center took 29 more seconds last year compared to 2021, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report from new TomTom data.

  • The journey took 10 minutes and 18 seconds last year, compared to nine minutes and 49 seconds in 2021.
  • 🤯 The additional seconds add up. Richmond-area drivers commuted on average an extra two hours and 14 minutes last year, per TomTom.

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.

Zoom in: Traffic slowed most significantly in Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston between 2021-2023, based on the average time spent traveling 6 miles in their respective city centers — no shock to anybody who's ever driven in any of the three.

  • 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.
  • Traffic actually improved in a handful of cities, including Indianapolis (-39 seconds for a 6-mile trip); Grand Rapids, Michigan (-29 seconds); and Orlando, Florida (-20 seconds).
  • See TomTom's full 2023 traffic index here.

The big picture: While corporate leaders' efforts to get employees back at their desks full time have mostly fizzled, the heyday of the work-from-home era is no doubt behind us.

  • WFH rates are slowly slipping downward, with just a minority of workers able to enjoy total flexibility these days.
  • The result: more car traffic, as the rush-hour rat race continues.

Between the lines: The pandemic was an opportunity for cities to rethink their transportation infrastructure in ways that might push people toward public transit.

The bottom line: Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and rush-hour traffic.

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