MAG News

Telecommuting and stay-at-home restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic are having a noticeable impact on traffic.

COVID-19's Impact on Regional Traffic

Transportation

Telecommuting and stay-at-home restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic are having a noticeable impact on traffic. The Maricopa Association of Governments is tracking the amount of time commuters are stuck in traffic on a daily basis. The measure of congestion delay* is calculated from speed data, which covers all major freeways and most of the arterial streets in Maricopa County on a daily basis, 24 hours a day. Please note that the graphs below are derived from INRIX data, which are proprietary and require attribution. A single notation within a report that contains INRIX data and a single logo on web pages that draw from INRIX data is acceptable. For example, a reporter could say "according to travel time data by the analytics company INRIX." The graphs below incorporate the appropriate attributions.

To subscribe for updates when data changes, click on the GovDelivery icon under the charts.

*The delay (measured in vehicle hours) is calculated as the excessive travel time for all vehicles when average speed during a given hour is at least 20mph lower than the free-flow speed. The daily delay is calculated as the sum of hourly delay per day in the region.

What does this chart tell me?

  • Fewer cars means less congestion which means high average speeds.
  • In comparing March 2019 to March 2020, freeway speeds increased 9% in the a.m. and 15% in the p.m
  • For arterial streets, there was a 23% increase in speeds during the morning rush hour and a 25% increase during the evening rush hour when comparing March 2019 with March 2020.
  • Speeds on freeway and arterial streets have not changed noticeably from the 3rd week of March to the 1st week of May in 2020.

What does this graphic show?

  • Less traffic congestion means faster travel times.
  • Faster travel times mean less delay when compared to free flow traffic.
  • The measure is based on speed data that covers all major freeways and most arterial streets in Maricopa County 24/7.
  • The week of March 2, 2020 is considered “normal” traffic conditions, defined as 100%

What does this chart show?

  • Hours of delay have fallen from 70,000 hours to just over 30,000 hours.
  • Congestion delay is based on actual travel times compared to free flow traffic travel times.
  • Congestion delay stays at the same level through the second week of May, with noticeable congestion increase observed on May 15, 2020.

What does this graphic show?

  • Average Weekday Daily Traffic Volume for the week of March 2, 2020 is considered “normal” traffic conditions, defined as 100%.
  • The lowest number of vehicles on the regional roads is observed during the 2nd week of April as 61% to traffic volumes under normal conditions.
  • Since the 2nd week of April, the number of vehicles on the regional roads increased to 77% of traffic volumes under normal conditions during the second week of May.

NOTE: The data are primarily for the freeways and arterials in Maricopa County.

What does this chart show?

  • COVID-19 hasn’t stopped freight deliveries. Unlike commute traffic, daily traffic for heavy trucks has stayed consistent.
  • The week of March 2, 2020, is considered “normal” traffic conditions, defined as 100%.
  • After heavy truck volumes showed a comparatively modest drop to the 91% of normal volumes during the 2nd week of April, the heavy truck volumes have jumped back to 105% during the second week of May.

NOTE: The data are primarily for the freeways and state highways in Maricopa County.

What do these satellite photos show?

  • Since the onset of COVID-19, changes in the regional and global emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) have been observed over our region in satellite data.
  • Comparing the same period of March 16 to April 21, 2019 to March 16 to April 21 2020, findings show a reduction of 16.95% in these emissions.

What do these charts show?

  • Active transportation trips (biking, walking and running) have increased significantly since March 2020.
  • Bike, run, and walk activity of "Locals" (blue) have increased significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Bike, run, walk and hike activity of "Visitors" (light blue) have decreased since the outbreak of COVID-19.

What does this chart show?

  • Interstate freeways (I-10 and I-17) show less amount of traffic reduction compared to other freeways.
  • Sky Harbor ground traffic activities show a reduction of more than two-thirds since the first week of March 2020, and have slowly resumed to 40% during the 2nd week of May.

Gov Delivery Envelope Get e-mail updates! /

Published April 1, 2020

About MAG

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

Title VI

Title VI requires that no person in the United States of America shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity for which MAG receives federal financial assistance.

Get in Touch

  • Address: 302 N 1st Ave., suite 300
    Phoenix, Arizona 85003

  • Phone: (602) 254-6300

  • FAX: (602) 254-6490

  • Email: mag@azmag.gov