Traffic Will Be Worse After Lockdown Ends

bay bridge construction making crossing the chesapeake a slow moving nightmare

The Washington PostGetty Images

There are going to be a million studies on the coronavirus and its impacts in the years and decades to come, but we’re already getting data about driving and public transit, and what it means going forward in terms of ride sharing, purchasing, and traffic congestion.

Capgemini, “a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation,” talked to more than 11,000 people in 11 countries and came up with some interesting data about our current and future habits around transportation. The Detroit Free Press, Bloomberg and Forbes also added to this data.

A month ago, traffic was down more than 50 percent, according to MS2, a transportation data agency. Last Friday, as people slowly started to venture out, traffic was down just 29 percent. In China, which has already eased restrictions on travel, traffic is actually higher than the 2019 average, according to Bloomberg. With the public’s skittishness about public transit, expect the same thing to happen here, especially in bigger cities where subways, trains and taxicabs are sometimes easier options.

Apple tracks requests for directions using Apple Maps in 27 cities. Atlanta, located in another state that is opening early, requests for directions have returned to normal after being down 65 percent. L.A. was down 70 percent, but now is down only 23 percent.

In the U.S, driving as a whole is down 6 percent, but public transit is down 71 percent, and we can’t see a reason why that would improve markedly.

“I have no interest in getting on the bus or a ride-sharing system unless I’m in a hazmat suit,” Jason Rogers, who lives just outside Nashville, told Bloomberg. “I’m very much erring on the side of caution. I know where the car has been and who has been in it.”

According to the American Public Transportation Association, transit agencies could face a shortfall of $23.8 billion by the end of 2021. And if you don’t want to take buses, subways or rideshares, how are you supposed to get around? Capgemini found that 46 percent of those 11,000 respondents plan to use their car more frequently.

Here in the United States, the Detroit Free Press found that 53 percent of people surveyed are less likely to use public transportation in the future. Of the 35 percent of respondents to Capgemini’s survey who were planning to buy a car this year, three-quarters said it was “because ownership gives them greater control of hygiene.” A full 45 percent of people under 35 years old plan to buy a vehicle, half of which plan to use public transport less often.

“Younger consumers historically disliked car ownership for its hassles and environmental impact, especially in urban areas, where public transport is perceived as easier for daily travel,” Johan Jansson, associate professor of Marketing at Lund University School of Economics and Management, said in a news release about the survey. “It’s potentially a seismic shift.”

Check out Capgemini’s full study here.

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