Car Travel Is Returning To Pre-Pandemic Levels
If it seems to you like the highways have been a bit busier this March, you wouldn’t be wrong! According to a recent report by the Associated Press, the number of vehicle trips is reaching pre-pandemic levels for the first time in over a year!
These analytics come from firm Inrix and concludes that Americans are driving more often and farther than at anytime since lockdowns were evoked. This shows that the confidence toward travel is returning as more Americans continue to get vaccinated and cases are on the decline.
As the Orlando Sentinel reports, this news coincides with other consumer trends we’re seeing including that both spending and manufacturing are up! Employment has increased as well and governors in some states are starting to relax restrictions on indoor dining and social gatherings. We also know that more fuel is being purchased.
According to the Inrix report, the biggest uptick in consumer travel seems to be in rural, suburban and smaller metropolitan areas. An example would be Pensacola where vehicle miles last April, at the start of the pandemic, dropped to around 50% of its usual levels. But, the weekend of March 20-21 the same area reported that vehicle miles topped 150% of the pre-pandemic level! I can almost hear the residents in the Florida pan handle collectively shouting “ROAD TRIP!”
Kaycee Lagarde, Pensacola’s Public Information Officer told Sentinel that the difference in vehicle traffic is noticeable saying, “If you drove through downtown Pensacola a year ago, it was a ghost town — everything was closed.” She continued, “Now if you go downtown, it basically looks normal as far as the number of people being out.”
Lagarde told the Sentinel that she thought this was due in part to tourists who have returned to the beaches in the area which were closed around this same time last year.
Tim Lomax, a research fellow at Texas A&M Transportation Institute said that this spells good news for the country’s financial health. “Higher travel is reflective of a good economy,” He said, “They are traveling for a purpose, whether that’s a job, retail or school.”
Last spring, many vehicles got parked for an extended stay as governors and mayors issued stay-at-home orders, schools went virtual and work sites shifted from offices to homes as a precaution intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Passenger vehicle miles traveled plunged to almost half their pre-pandemic levels nationally, and declined even more in some of the largest cities with the greatest restrictions.
According to the Inrix report, passenger vehicle miles continue top climb upwards and are reaching as high as 112% of pre-pandemic levels (recorded during the week of March 19th.) The data is correlated from GPS signals, cellphone apps etc.
Hopefully this spells good news going into what has historically been a busy period for Walt Disney World with a combination of Spring Break and Easter Crowds. This is also a shift in behavior that can only have a positive impact on Disneyland’s reopening plans later this month especially given that the park will ONLY be open to California residents initially (starting April 30th) making it the ultimate road trip destination for those on the West Coast.
Readers are encouraged to keep following along with MickeyBlog for further Walt Disney World news and updates.
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