US roadways nearly restored to pre-pandemic VMT levels

Dive Brief:
StreetLight Data and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have teamed up to understand the scope of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on U.S. roadways, from the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in March through the reopening process.

The partners created a Trip Reduction Index to measure lockdown policy adherence in each state, county and metropolitan area. The index found the national average in VMT dropped 72% from the beginning of March through April 7, but rural counties have now fully recovered to pre-COVID VMT levels while urban counties have reached 90% recovery.

The New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state area and Washington, DC experienced 80-90% dips in VMT at the start of the pandemic, while states like Texas and Alabama saw VMT decline 50-60%. The analysis also found that the top three contributing factors to VMT reduction profiles are household income, population density and the number of professional service jobs, which all tend to be more prevalent in urban areas than rural areas.