Post-Pandemic Traffic Trends: Washington Post Taps MTI Expertise

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Relatively small shifts in driver behavior may be wreakihg havoc on DC-area traffic, according to Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI) research cited by the Washington Post.

In a September 22 news report, Post reporters Ian Duncan, Luz Lazo, Justin George, and Michael Laris set out to untangle apparent traffic anomalies—including congestion at unexpected hoursthat have arisen as more federal workers return to their offices.

MTI interim director Cinzia Cirillo and UMD researcher Guangchen Zhao used travel data from cellphone users to track travel times in area neighborhoods, comparing September 2019 with September 2022. The data showed an average increase of around 20%. Though remote work remains common, employees are less likely than before to use public transit when they do go in, and flex schedules continue to chip away at the traditional 9-5. Teleworkers may also be have a tendency to ramp up car usage over the weekends–a phenomenon known as the “subst8itution effect.” All these trends have led to gummied-up roads during periods outside the standard rush hour. Read the full story.

Published December 7, 2023