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What we’re learning about US vehicle travel data: Interactive Dashboard for August 20, 2020

August 20, 2020

By Sumeet Kishnani

Anonymized cellphone data tells us how traffic patterns are changing through COVID-19

In our latest update we are shifting to Apple’s mobility index, which we will be using for the dashboard going forward. The Apple data includes information on walking and transit modes in addition to driving, and it also includes information on countries outside the US. Apple’s mobility index is not based on Vehicle-Miles of Travel. Instead, it is based on the number of requests made by Apple Maps users. An increase of 10% from the baseline means there were 10% more requests for Apple Maps directions compared to the baseline date.

The latest data shows that driving requests are up 60% for the US from the January benchmark, while walking requests are up 59%, and transit requests are down 43%. This increase in traffic and decrease in transit is consistent with other data sources we have been compiling.

We can also use this to help understand which cities have been recovering from the pandemic shutdown the fastest and slowest:

Lowest trip request increase since January (or decrease)

Los Angeles, CA (+29%), Tampa, FL (+25%), Phoenix, AZ (+22%), Miami, FL (+15%), New Orleans, LA (-13%)

Highest trip request increase since January

Colorado Springs, CO (+112%), Omaha, NE (+97%), Virginia Beach, VA (+92%), Oklahoma City, OK (+79%), Indianapolis, IN (+78%)

Apple’s mobility index reflects requests for directions in Apple Maps within 350 US cities, and our dashboard reports the 40 largest of those cities. All results are benchmarked to the number of requests made on January 13th.

Our people and our economy depend on a well-planned recovery, and data is the great enabler that will help leaders and planners make the best decisions possible.

Note that many cities are over 100% of the January benchmark for driving requests. This does not necessarily mean that traffic is higher than it was in January. The growth does show that smartphone users in those cities are using Apple Maps to make more requests (for example, for non-work trips). In addition to measures of daily traffic volume, we also track traffic speeds in many markets around the US, and we don’t see the typical morning and evening peak hour congestion in many markets. At the very least, it appears that peak hour traffic levels are not back to January levels, and that the additional mobility may be taking place at other times of the day.

See the latest data from Apple’s mobility index in Stantec’s Interactive Dashboard. Search for your state and county and download helpful charts.

  • Sumeet Kishnani

    Sumeet focuses on making sure that travel to and from the game enhances the game day experience by happening seamlessly

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