San Francisco traffic falls dramatically in wake of coronavirus

‘Holiday-level’ drop in cars on the road making freeways move faster

Traffic congestion has plummeted in and around San Francisco as the impacts of coronavirus spread.

That’s according to global traffic analytic firm Inrix, which crunched traffic data in major cities across the United States.

Specifically, freeway traffic within a ten-mile radius of The City moved 22 percent faster Wednesday morning compared to a typical Wednesday morning, an Inrix analysis found.

For context, an Inrix spokesperson said this is a “holiday-level” traffic dip, akin to travel patterns seen around holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

The analysis comes as many San Francisco and Bay Area companies are encouraging their employees to work from home if possible, including major tech giants like Lyft, Google, and Facebook, to aid in coronavirus containment efforts. San Francisco’s city government has also banned events with attendance over 1,000 people, and local businesses are widely reporting drops in patronage.

Inrix analyzes anonymous data from datasets like phones, cars, trucks, and local city data, including the congested or uncongested status of “every segment of road for every minute of the day,” according to a statement from the company.

Data from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which oversees the tolls on Bay Area bridges, also shows a 17 percent drop in traffic approaching the Dumbarton Bridge, in the South Bay, between March 2 and March 9, results that closely match that of Inrix’s analyses.

But not all bridges saw a dip in traffic. Toll plazas at Benicia, Carquinez and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge all saw marginal traffic decreases, from .12 percent to roughly 1.6 percent.

BART ridership has also dipped 8 percent in the wake of coronavirus fears, the agency said this week.

The dip in traffic congestion is particularly stark considering Inrix’s report Monday, the Inrix 2019 Traffic Scorecard, which showed the San Francisco Bay Area loses nearly $3 billion in economic activity a year due to its staggering traffic congestion.

The scorecard ranked San Francisco as having the seventh-worst traffic congestion in the United States, behind Los Angeles, New York City and other metro areas.

This week, however, San Francisco’s roads are shockingly clear.

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