May 25, 2022 - News

D.C.’s new pandemic rush hour

Vehicle traffic in front of the Capitol.
Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Office occupancy is still low and yet traffic is exceeding pre-pandemic levels, according to a new JLL report.

What’s happening: The pandemic has taken us from a couple of rush hour spikes in traffic in the morning and evening to a steady stream of traffic throughout the day.

By the numbers: In February, JLL found that the number of vehicle trips per month in D.C. was up 120% compared to 2019.

  • Foot traffic is also climbing and reached 71% of 2019 levels in March.
  • Metro ridership has only reached 36.4% of 2019 levels.

Why it matters: Even with lots of Washingtonians still working from home, the new pattern makes avoiding traffic a lot harder.

Between the lines: The last six months have been plagued with Metro safety issues that have increased wait times and likely pushed commuters to drive, adding to our traffic woes. And before that, COVID lockdowns and fears added to the steep drop in Metro ridership.

What to watch: Before the pandemic, 40% of Metro riders were federal employees, according to JLL. As the agencies return to the office, ridership is expected to increase.

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