Travel

Downtown Travel Plummets 44% in 2020 amid COVID-19 Pandemic

– Traffic delay falls nearly 50% in major cities, saving U.S. drivers nearly 75 hours compared to 2019.

– New York (100 hours), Philadelphia (94 hours) and Chicago (86 hours) lost the most time to traffic congestion in the U.S., despite a 28% to 40% drop in delay from 2019.

– Bogota (133 hours), Bucharest (134 hours), New York (100 hours), Moscow (100 hours) and Philadelphia (94 hours) comprise the Top 5 most congested cities in the world.

– Washington, D.C. (29 hours) saw the one of the largest decreases in congestion, down 77% compared to last year.

KIRKLAND, Wash., March 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — INRIX, Inc., a world leader in transportation analytics and connected car services, today published the 2020 Global Traffic Scorecard that identified and ranked congestion and mobility trends in more than 1,000 cities, across 50 countries amid a year that brought unprecedented economic and social disruption due to the onset of COVID-19. On average, American drivers lost just 26 hours this year in traffic, down from 99 hours in 2019, saving $980 over last year. Nationally, drivers saved more than 3.4 billion hours, resulting in $51 billion in time savings compared to 2019.

INRIX provides unique insight into the movement of people and commerce across transportation networks worldwide. Our services help millions of drivers find a better way to go as well as help cities make our transportation networks work smarter. (PRNewsfoto/INRIX)

“COVID-19 has completely transformed when, where and how people move. Government restrictions and the continued spread of the virus led to shifts in travel behavior seemingly overnight,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Morning commutes in cities across the world went without delay as people reduced auto and transit travel to offices, schools, shopping centers and other public spaces.”

Drivers in New York (100 hours), Philadelphia (94 hours) and Chicago (86 hours) lost the most time to traffic congestion despite a 28% to 40% drop from 2019. Fourth-ranked Boston (48 hours), ranked first in 2019 with 101 hours lost, saw a 68% decrease in delay compared to last year. Washington, D.C. (29 hours) saw the largest change in congestion where delay fell 77% from 2019.

Table 1: 10 Most Congested Urban Areas in the U.S.

2020
Congestion
Rank (2019)

Urban Area

2020
Hours
Lost

YoY
Hours
Lost

2020
Cost Per
Driver

YoY Per
Driver
Savings

YoY
Collisions

YoY
DVMT

YoY
Downtown
Speed

1 (4)

New York City, NY

100

-28%

$1,486

$607

-38%

-28%

+9%

2 (3)

Philadelphia, PA

94

-34%

$1,388

$735

-28%

-25%

+20%

3 (2)

Chicago, IL

86

-40%

$1,279

$889

-5%

-22%

+36%

4 (1)

Boston, MA

48

-68%

$711

$1,517

-33%

-26%

+25%

5 (6)

Los Angeles, CA

45

-56%

$664

$876

-21%

-21%

+38%

6 (7)

San Francisco, CA

47

-51%

$697

$753

-28%

-30%

+40%

7 (13)

New Orleans, LA

42

-47%

$617

$564

0%

-13%

+42%

8 (11)

Houston, TX

35

-56%

$523

$688

-20%

-14%

+27%

9 (12)

Miami, FL

35

-57%

$512

$699

-8%

-20%

+27%

10 (20)

Dallas, TX

34

-46%

$503

$439

-32%

-14%

+27%

Downtown Trips Plummet
Much of a region’s traffic congestion centers around commutes to, from and within Central Business Districts. The closure of offices, restaurants, entertainment, fitness centers and other brick-and-mortar storefronts, along with limits on gatherings, had an outsized effect in the densest parts of each region.

Portland, Oregon saw the largest drop (-66%) in trips to downtown since the pandemic and related restrictions took hold, followed by San Francisco (-64%), Washington D.C. (-60%), Detroit (-59%) and Boston (-56%). Nationwide, the largest metros saw an average decline of 44% in city center trips. As a result, downtown speeds increased as much as 42%, providing further evidence that urban travel is still lagging behind in the recovery.

“Although travel to downtowns has been the most affected by the spread of the virus and subsequent government restrictions, the reduction in congestion has resulted in quicker commutes for essential workers, more reliable deliveries and streamlined freight movement, all of which are vital to the economy,” said Pishue. “We expect downtown trips will continue to lag suburban and rural travel through 2021.”

The Most Congested Corridors in the U.S.
Throughout the country, delay on the busiest corridors decreased versus 2019. Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway had the most delay in 2020 at 41 hours, down from 56 hours in 2019. Other familiar names continued to top the busiest corridors list, albeit with dramatic reductions in delay, with New York’s Brooklyn Queens Expressway (30 hours) and Cross Bronx Expressway (23 hours) remaining in the Top 5. Last year, I-5 in Los Angeles topped the list at 80 hours of daily delay but dropped completely out of the Top 25 of 2020.

Table 2: 10 Most Congested U.S. Roads in 2020

Rank

Urban Area

Road Name

From

To

Avg.
Peak
Delay
(mins)

2020 Hours Lost

1

Chicago, IL

Eisenhower Expy E

I-290 / 294

I-90 / 94 Interchange

10

41

2

New York City, NY

Brooklyn Queens Expy

I-495

Tillary Street

8

30

3

New York City, NY

Cross Bronx Expy

Bronx River Parkway

Washington Bridge

6

23

4

New York City, NY

Brooklyn Queens Expy

4th Ave / 38th St

Hicks St / Old Fulton St

6

23

5

San Francisco, CA

I-680

Mission Blvd

Scotts Corner

6

22

6

San Francisco, CA

CA-4

I-680

Willow Pass Rd

5

22

7

Stamford, CT

Connecticut Turnpike

Saugatuck Ave

Indian Field Road

5

21

8

Los Angeles, CA

US-101

New Hampshire Ave

110 Interchange

5

19

9

Los Angeles, CA

S La Cienega Blvd

I-405

West Adams

5

19

10

Atlanta, GA

I-75

Langford Parkway

Williams St / Peachtree Pl

5

19

How U.S. Cities Compare to Top Cities Worldwide
At the global level, Bogota topped the list of the cities most impacted by traffic congestion with drivers losing 133 hours a year to congestion (-31% from 2019) followed by Bucharest (134 hours), New York (100 hours), Moscow (100 hours) and Philadelphia (94 hours). In Europe, Rome saw the greatest reductions in delay compared to 2020, dropping 60%, followed by Brussels (-58%), Dublin (-57%), Athens (-54%) and London (-53%).

Table 3: 10 Most Congested Cities in the World in 2020

2020 Congestion Rank
(2019)

Urban Area

2020 Hours Lost

YoY Hours Lost

YoY DVMT

1 (1)

Bogota, Columbia

133

-31%

-30%

2 (*)

Bucharest, Romania

134

3 (14)

New York City, NY

100

-28%

-28%

4 (17)

Moscow, Russia

100

-22%

-12%**

5 (12)

Philadelphia, PA

94

-34%

-25%

6 (7)

Paris, France

88

-47%

-19%

7 (10)

Chicago, IL

86

-40%

-22%

8 (18)

Quito, Ecuador

87

-40%

-11%

9 (*)

Zagreb, Croatia

93

10 (38)

Cali, Columbia

81

-14%

-6%

*New to 2020 Scorecard Ranking; **No local figures available, national substituted

Access to reliable data is the first step in tackling congestion. Applying big data to create intelligent transportation systems is key to solving urban mobility problems. INRIX data and analytics on mobility, traffic and traffic signals, parking and population movement help city planners and engineers make data-based decisions to prioritize spending to maximize benefits and reduce costs now and into the future.

The key findings of the INRIX 2020 Global Traffic Scorecard provide a quantifiable benchmark for governments and cities across the world to measure progress to improve urban mobility and track the impact of spending on smart city initiatives.

Please visit www.inrix.com/scorecard for:

  • Full 2020 Global Traffic Scorecard report, including rankings for the U.S., U.K. and Germany

  • Interactive webpage with data and information for more than 1000 cities and 50 countries

  • Complete methodology

  • Blog post highlighting downtown commuter impact

Notes to Editors:
Data Sources
INRIX fuses anonymous data from diverse datasets – such as phones, cars, trucks and cities – that leads to robust and accurate insights. The data used in the 2020 Global Traffic Scorecard is the congested or uncongested status of every segment of road for every minute of the day, as used by millions of drivers around the world that rely on INRIX-based traffic services.

Research Methodology
The 2020 Scorecard builds upon the methodology adopted two years ago by identifying multiple commute areas within cities, capturing each city’s own unique mobility profile. Furthermore, the 2020 Scorecard analyzes travel times, miles-traveled, trip characteristics and the impact of incidents on congestion within a city. From this multifaceted approach, a holistic understanding is achievable in an increasingly complex landscape.

The INRIX 2020 Global Traffic Scorecard calculates time lost in congestion by employing traffic data across multiple commute sub areas within a city. Commute sub areas are identified based upon the concentration of trips concluding within a defined area. An economic analysis was performed to estimate the total cost to the average driver in a city, and a total cost to the city population. Worst corridors are limited to those that have the highest traffic volume and are ranked by the average hours of delay per driver in 2020. Additional metrics are available online and in the full report.

About INRIX
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and mobility analytics. We use data and cloud-based insights to help our customers make mobility smarter, safer, and more efficient. With the ability to offer transportation services on every road in the world, we are the preferred provider of mobility intelligence for leading automakers, transport agencies and businesses. Learn more at INRIX.com.

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SOURCE INRIX

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