When the World Stops Moving
Jarringly quiet highways and empty rail cars are signs of Covid-19’s profound economic and public health impacts. Perhaps leaders can also learn from them.
Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.
March 19, 2020
Congested highways are as iconic to Southern California as the sunshine, and slowdowns only get worse in rare moments of inclement weather. So consider Monday’s morning traffic report a sign of the times: Freeways and surface streets in Los Angeles were moving 35% faster than normal, even as a late-winter storm dumped sheets of rain.
“Not even sure what city I’m in anymore,” one local tweeted.
As the coronavirus pandemic tightens its grip around the world, city streets have transformed overnight. With offices, schools, businesses and public institutions closing their doors, and households buttoning up under “shelter in place” orders, roads from Beirut to London to Atlanta have become arteries without blood. In the U.S., average traffic speeds have significantly increased in every major metropolitan area in the U.S., according to INRIX, a traffic data analytics company, by as much as 60% in Chicago as of Tuesday morning.
Other modes of mobility have been shocked, even more so. In the U.S., public transit systems are seeing ridership tank as millions of commuters follow work-from-home orders or choose options that involve less social contact. Ridership across New York City’s MTA, the nation’s largest public transit system, fell by 60% on subways and as much as 90% on commuter trains. Washington, D.C.’s WMATA lost 100,000 riders in the course of week. In San Francisco, rail ridership on BART was down a staggering 90% as of Tuesday, and the SFMTA’s buses and railcars had plummeted 35% by the end of last week. Intercity rail travel has also taken a huge hit: Bookings on Amtrak have plunged 50% since the outbreak. Public ferry boats have emptied out, from Seattle to Staten Island.
The Mobility Impacts of Coronavirus – CityLab
When the World Stops Moving Jarringly quiet highways and empty rail cars are signs of Covid-19’s profound economic and public health impacts. Perhaps leaders can also learn from them. Laura Bliss @mslaurabliss Feed Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has… [Read More]