COVID-19 didn't end driving, but mobility experts say it could spell the demise of rush hour

COVID-19 didn't end driving, but mobility experts say it could spell the demise of rush hour

"Now we have control over the cadence of our work," Meera Joshi of Sam Schwartz said. "Do we need to honor a rush-hour system if it's proven to be not necessary anymore?"
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Travel and commuting nosedived in March when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the US.

Business Insider spoke with two mobility experts, Gary Hallgren of Arity, and Meera Joshi of Sam Schwartz, about how the pandemic has changed commuting.

Driving has dropped by as much as 70%, but as it's starting to return, people question the rush-hour commuting schedules they used to follow.

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With stay-at-home mandates, social distancing, and lockdowns in effect everywhere, it's tough to get away on a trip right now, to say nothing of regular commuting.But as time goes on, it's becoming clear that the pandemic is reshaping not just how we get around now, but how we'll plan to do so in the future. During Business Insider's Tuesday IGNITION: Transportation panel, senior editor Alex Davies spoke with Gary Hallgren, president of mobility data and analytics company Arity, and Meera Joshi, principal at urban design firm Sam Schwartz and former chair and CEO of New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission. Using data collected across 23 million devices, including mobile phones and cars, Arity logs about a billion miles of driving data every two days. As much of the United States went into lockdown in March, the company statewide driving decrease by as much as 70% as people obeyed lockdown measures and stayed home. It's slowly starting to come back, though.Worryingly, however, Arity found that despite a drop in overall traffic, there's been a 15% increase in high-speed driving. The risk of collisions has fallen, likely due to fewer cars being on the road, but the crashes that do happen are more severe because people are driving faster. That data matches up with the "free-for-all" on empty US roads that various law enforcement agencies noticed during the spring.
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