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City traffic congestion has decreased significantly around the world in 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdowns and economic downturns. But the impact has been more persistent in the United States than in any other country, new research shows.
Of the 10 cities in the world with the most sub-par road congestion days, nine were in the United States, according to the mapping and navigation company TomTom. Minneapolis had the most persistent decline in the world, with 219 days of reduced congestion, followed by Nashville with 213 days and San Francisco with 211 days.
Even today, US traffic is far from normal, including in cities where there are no travel restrictions, said Nick Cohn, TomTom traffic data expert. It is a reflection of America’s long and continuing battle against the pandemic.
“Traffic levels in American cities did not return,” Cohn says, “even in late summer and early fall, as traffic started to return to some cities in Europe. [and Asia]. ”
Since the start of the pandemic, many American workers have been working from home, drastically reducing the number of cars on the road. Higher unemployment is also a factor, as are people limiting their travel to a minimum, in line with health recommendations.
In its study, TomTom also ranked cities as car congestion decreased in 2020. By this measure, a different set of cities led the ranking, particularly mega-metropolises in developing countries.
Bengaluru, India (formerly Bangalore) experienced the biggest drop in congestion in the world last year, at 20%. Manila was second with 18%, followed by Pune, India and Jakarta, which were tied with a 17% drop in traffic.
In the United States, Los Angeles led with a 15% drop, the 10th largest reduction worldwide in 2020. Meanwhile, traffic in San Jose, Calif., Fell 14%, placing the city in 15th place in the world ranking.
Of the 416 cities tracked by TomTom data, 387 saw traffic declines compared to 2019. Out of 80 U.S. cities tracked, all saw a net decrease in congestion.
The study results are based on anonymized GPS data from 600 million drivers in 57 countries who use TomTom technology.
Unlike the United States, Chinese cities have experienced minimal declines in road traffic. In fact, congestion in cities such as Changchun and Chongquing has actually increased slightly from 2019, reflecting China’s success in controlling the virus through coordinated public health measures including rapid tests and lockdowns. strict.
The traffic gap between the United States and China also reflects a wider divergence in the economic impact of the coronavirus in the two countries. While the Chinese economy recovered quickly of the first impacts of the virus, the United States in December had still high job losses. According to projections by the Center for Economics and Business Research, the impact of the pandemic will lead to China overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy by 2028 – five years ahead of schedule.
Cities in Taiwan also showed robust traffic in TomTom data, reflecting the success of this country similar success in controlling COVID-19. The cities of Taoyuan, Taipei, Taichung and Tainan all posted a slight increase in congestion compared to 2019 and a few days of low traffic.
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