We all now the risks about coronavirus. The virus COVID-19 has severely impacted our lives. It generated a pandemic with fatalities and quarantine. At some point, you might even feel tired of reading news about it. However, did you ever wonder how is this virus changing transportation in the United States? If you keep reading this blog you will find out some of the COVID-19 trends impacting the future of transportation, planning and research.
Before reviewing the transportation areas that are being affected by the coronavirus, you will see some concrete impact examples. This is how bad transportation has decreased in 2020. The 4th of July week of 2020 saw 2.8 billion fewer total American trips within the country, due to COVID-19. Moreover, on September, 2020, Americans took almost 40% fewer trips during Labor Day weekend than 2019, which equals to 2.8 less trips. The decrease went from 7.4 billion in 2019, to 4.6 billion in 2020.
There are multiple forms of transportation, but one of the main ones is commuting to work. Regardless of the transportation way that you use, the overall behavior of travelling is changing. COVID-19 has impacted transportation, and people’s attitude. According to a University of California Institute of Transportation Studies survey, 10% of the American workforce teleworked full time and almost 70% commuted to an office full time “in eight U.S. metropolitan areas”.
Nonetheless, it is expected to have at least 30% of the workforce teleworked full time on 2021. COVID-19 has changed some markets for good. In addition, for those that are on a slower transition to virtual or telework, there are still certain areas that are experiencing serious changes. In the area of personal injury law, one of the main changes are depositions. These “meetings” are being held through online apps, such as “Google Meet” or “Zoom”. Some experts assure that this change will stay for good.
Another important and significant behavioral change within society is online shopping. This E-commerce boom of the 21th century has been constantly growing, year by year. According to Bazaar Voice Network, online shopping had been increasing between 5% to 10% annually, before COVID-19. However, after the outbreak, E-commerce nearly doubled in April 2020, and was almost 60% higher in June 2020. This E-commerce boom due to the coronavirus has been impacting and will keep impacting transportation for the deliveries.
Regardless of the COVID-19, products and services need to be delivered. This is why trucking statistics reported a decrease, when comparing pre and post pandemic. Before coronavirus, every freight market was constantly increasing, ever at a faster pace and rate than passenger travel. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic struck hard. We’ve experiencing reductions of 10% for long-haul truck traffic, cargo at ports was reduced 20-25%, and more; says the American Association of Port Authorities.
Furthermore, a throughout investigation made by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine stated: “Before the pandemic, rail freight had been in a slow, steady decline since mid-2018, but total rail traffic reduced 23% in April from 2019, according to the Association of American Railroads. By the end of July, it was still down about 12.8%, although the declines are highly dependent on the type of cargo. Metallic ores and metals along with coal saw reductions of nearly 30%”.
The aviation industry is one of the most expensive but profitable markets in the world. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the aviation industry was increasing at a 4-8% annually ratio. On the contrary, after the COVID-19 outbreak, especially after the peak in United States, the aviation industry suffered a 06% reduction of air travelers. Having said that, freight airlines are taking advantage of the constant increase on E-commerce, so they can be competitive in those markets, and survive.
We all know what public transportation means during times of COVID-19. Needles to say, special precautions must be taken from every single party. According to Transportation Research Board’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) “Analysis of Recent Public Transit Ridership Trends“, in July 2020, public transportation showed a 58% national reduction in travelers from 2019. In Washington D.C., those numbers are higher, with a 66% reduction on Metrobus and 90% reduction on Metrorail. The questions still is, what is going to happen next year? Will COVID-19 be over soon?
The truth is that no one has a concrete and updated answer. This is simply because what might seem to be the norm today, will be completely out of date and irrelevant tomorrow. No matter the circumstances, it is imperative to keep following the main guidelines for our daily lives. Every single person should act under the official bills and regulations, from wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing, up to living in quarantine and isolate yourself.