Partnership to help manage urban mobility during COVID-19

Advanced data analytics were used to study vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roadways since March 2020

July 28, 2020
vehicle miles traveled

StreetLight Data Inc. and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) recently announced their partnership to help the transportation industry make faster decisions, based on empirical data, during the unprecedented volatility of travel patterns and preferences resulting from COVID-19.

In one of the first joint efforts of the partnership, StreetLight and BCG used advanced data analytics to study vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on U.S. roadways since the beginning of March 2020, before states began imposing stay-at-home orders, and created a Trip Reduction Index to measure adherence to lockdown policies in each state, county, and metropolitan statistical area (MSA). Key index findings include:

  • From the beginning of March through April 7, the national average drop in VMT was 72%.
  • Since then, rural counties have fully recovered to pre-COVID levels while urban counties are still in recovery at about 90%.
  • That number varied by MSA and state, with the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut tristate area and Washington D.C. initially seeing drops of 80% to 90%, while states including Texas and Alabama saw drops of only of 50% to 60%.
  • Population density is a big driver—urban counties saw a VMT reduction that was about 20-30 percentage points higher on average than that of rural counties.
  • The top three correlating factors to the VMT reduction profile are household income, population density, and prevalence of professional service jobs, all of which are higher in urban areas than rural.

Since mid-April, Streetlight says all U.S. counties have seen a steady recovery of VMT, with the ones experiencing a lower drop in March also recovering more quickly since the low point. The counties that experienced a smaller drop in March also recovered more quickly from the low point. These numbers vary substantially by county, illustrating the importance of empirical VMT data to allow cities, DOTs, and private mobility providers to manage transportation system supplies in a way that responds to travel demand.

Additionally, the Streetlight–BCG partnership will focus on helping cities prepare to adopt micro-mobility and autonomous vehicles using StreetLight’s big data resources to move beyond the limitations of traditional mobility measurement, inform strategy for the scale deployment of these new offerings, and design services around them. Urban logistics, a key contributor to congestion in city centers, is another area of focus; BCG and StreetLight will work with municipalities, as well as logistics and transportation providers and their large customers, to optimize the flow of goods through dense urban areas.

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SOURCE: Streelight Data

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