Wed. Apr 21st, 2021

David A. By LIEB, associated Press

Americans can round a corner – literally – in response to the coronovirus epidemic.

According to data made available to the Associated Press by transport analytics firm Inrix, for the first time in a year, there has been a major flaw in the number of daily passenger vehicle trips provided to the Associated Press. Epidemic lockdowns were implemented at any time.

Vehicle travel increases between encouraging health and economic indicators. Consumer spending and manufacturing are picking up. Employers are adding workers. The governor has relaxed the restrictions on indoor food and social gatherings. More auto fuel is being purchased. The winter peak has re-developed in COVID-19 cases. And more than a quarter of Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Some of the largest travel growth has occurred in rural, suburban and small metropolitan areas, said Innrix transportation analyst Bob Pishu.

In Pensacola, Florida, Passenger vehicle miles reached nearly 50% of the average levels of January and February 2020 last April, before the epidemic was banned. The situation is quite different this spring. At the end of the week of 20–21 March, 150% of pre-epidemic levels in passenger vehicle miles, according to Inrix data.

“If you passed through downtown Pensacola a year ago, it was a ghost town – everything was shut down,” said Cayce LeGard, the city’s public information officer. “Now if you go to the city, it looks basically normal as far as the number of people is out.”

Legarda said the growth of traffic appears to have been aided by tourists, who have returned to temporarily closed beaches in the past year.

In general, “high travel is reflective of a good economy,” said Tim Lomax, a research fellow at Texas A & M Transport Institute. “They are traveling for a purpose, whether it is job, retail or school.”

Last spring, several vehicles were parked for an extended stay, as the governor and mayor issued stay-at-home orders, schools went virtual and work sites were moved from offices to homes, as a precaution. As intended to slow the spread of coronaviruses. Passenger vehicle miles nearly halved their pre-pandemic levels nationally, and some of the largest cities with the largest restrictions declined even more.

Less driving means less money for state transport departments, which rely too much on motor fuel taxes. Officials from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation estimated that there could be a $ 28 billion revenue loss over a five-year period.

“We are starting to see a rebound here from a travel point of view and it is very helpful,” said Jim Tyman, executive director of the association.

Passenger vehicle mile trips have been climbing upward this month, reaching 112% of its pre-epidemic levels during the week ending March 19, according to Innrix, which offers cellphone applications such as anonymous Comprises passenger vehicle traffic data from GPS signals.

Resurgence has been seen, especially in cities located to the south. Passenger vehicle miles accounted for 160% of their pre-epidemic levels in Mobile for two straight weekends, Alabama, And exceeded 125% of pre-epidemic levels on recent weekends in Fort Myers, Florida; Greenville, South Carolina; And Knoxville, Tennessee.

Traffic is also rebounding in some of the largest cities in the country, though on weekends compared to weekends and has yet to return to pre-epidemic levels.

Passenger vehicle miles fell to about 40% of pre-epidemic levels in Washington, DC last April, up from about 90% or more in the first three weekends of March, though it was lower on weekdays.

Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia show similar patterns, where weekend traffic exceeds weekday traffic. Passenger vehicle miles dropped to 99% of their pre-pandemic levels in Los Angeles at the end of March 2020, dropping below half their norm at the end of March 2020.

In New York City, they crossed 90% of their previous levels on March 20–21; They were a third normal a year ago.

In San Francisco, inverter data shows that passenger vehicle miles traveled reached 88% of their pre-epidemic levels over the weekend of March 20–21, their highest mark since March 11, 2020.

While bay traffic volumes show “more economic activity is taking place,” they also reflect a shift away from large transit, said Jeff Bellisario, executive director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. In February, the Bay Area boarded the rapid transit rail system. He said it stayed at only 12.5% ​​of pre-epidemic levels.

Belisario can personally present for a change in travel behavior. Prior to the epidemic, he did not own a car – instead riding a public transit to ride or bike to work and to go to other places. But he did not take rail in a year. He now works from home, and has bought a car to go around the city.

“My vehicle miles traveled is definitely higher than the pre-COVID-19,” he said.

David A. Lib reported from Jefferson City, Missouri. Associated Press business writer Christopher Rugbeer in Washington, DC contributed to this report.

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