Thoughts & Takeaways Archive

May 27th thoughts & takeaways:

  • I’ve changed some of the plots around and changed the intersections I’ve been looking at for the volume & speed plots. A few were locations stopped reporting data over the course of the past month so those were removed.

  • I’ve added a plot that compares Austin traffic vs national trends data from Apple. It sounds like the data comes from people requesting directions in Apple maps, which probably would skew from the normal amount during memorial day weekend. It appears that nationally the traffic has already recovered past the January 13th baseline Apple compares to.

May 23rd thoughts & takeaways:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday’s traffic volumes all were very similar. Yesterday only barely higher than the previous Friday which I thought was strange as it was the beginning of the long weekend and with all of the extra businesses that could open. That being said, it was the 2nd busiest day on Austin’s roads since the beginning of the lockdown.

  • Last week I was curious what kind of traffic is actually returning to the roads over the past month of so. Is it people returning to work? People feeling cabin sick and heading outside? I pulled the data and grouped by a few analysis periods. From April 5th to May 2nd, weekend traffic was recovering the fastest, and nearly 4x as fast as the AM peak hour.

May 20th thoughts & takeaways:

  • Check out the analysis I did below on travel time and congestion in Austin post-COVID. While traffic volumes have decreased around 40-50%, congestion has reduced 94% and travel times have been reduced by 30%.

  • Volumes have started to bounce back now that weather has returned to being hot and humid.

May 18th thoughts & takeaways:

  • Friday night/Saturday morning’s inclement weather caused the highest number of reported traffic incidents since the beginning of the lockdown.

  • The two rainstorms had a pretty major affect on the moving average, causing some data issues at some locations as I mentioned in the last update. As comparing to two weeks ago, only Tuesday and Saturday saw much less volume (-6%, and -2% respectively). I’d expect to see this downward curve start to rebound starting today as the forecast for this week is much better and with the 3-day weekend coming up.

May 15th thoughts & takeaways:

  • The decreasing trend in the traffic volumes is probably misleading on first glance. First of all, the bad weather on Tuesday reduced traffic volumes significantly. Also, it appears that the weather has caused on data issues at Braker lane/Mopac. That location appears to now only be reporting half of the daily traffic.

  • Inclement weather is forecast for tonight, so this weekend I will take inventory of what count locations I will remove from the dataset to get a more representative sample going forward.

May 13th thoughts & takeaways:

  • The huge boost in traffic expected on Mother’s Day didn’t really happen. The volume on Sunday was higher than the previous week but not far from the trend that has been in place over the past two weeks.

  • Yesterday’s volume was the lowest for a Tuesday since April 6th. This was caused by the significant rain we got yesterday. This is also shown in the slower speeds & higher number of traffic incidents.

May 10th thoughts & takeaways:

  • The traffic volume recovery rate appears to be slowly increasing. This past week’s growth is about 6% which is higher than the previous rate of about 10% per month.

  • It will be interesting to see Mother’s Day traffic counts as it’ll probably be significantly higher than the previous Sundays, which will have an impact on the moving average. With Memorial Day around the corner as well, who knows what traffic could look like at the end of the month.

  • I’m also curious about what kind of traffic is returning. Is it people commuting to work or people being more willing to do non-essential trips to salons, restaurants, parks, etc? Is it the economy being optimized for the post-Coronavirus world (Uber drivers switching to doordash or something similar)? Expect another post this week where I’ll explore this.

May 6th thoughts & takeaways:

  • May 3rd & 4th traffic volume and speed data was missing multiple intersections but now seems to be fixed. The volumes on those days was estimated based on the available data on those days as compared to the previous Sunday/Monday. Sunday saw about 4% higher volumes and Monday was 2% less.

  • The recovery trend is still ticking along at the roughly linear pace since the low point of volumes on the first week of April. The Governor’s new order will open more businesses on Friday and even more in the coming weeks.

  • Sunday’s shared mircomobility trips was the most in a single day since March 19th. Friday’s traffic volumes was the highest for a single day since March 18th.

  • I find it incredibly satisfying that the traffic incidents are following the same curve as traffic volumes.

May 3rd thoughts & takeaways:

  • Following the lifting the stay-at-home order for Texas, Friday’s traffic volume was 8% higher than the previous Friday. The same trend remains true for Saturday’s volumes. This was not significantly different than the trend we’ve been seeing over the past two weeks.

  • Some have wondered if we’ll see a “U-shaped” or “V-shaped” recovery from the shutdown. The linear trend following the end of the stay-at-home order bodes well for a Nike swoosh-shaped recovery. If you forecast out this trend line, traffic volumes would recover to the volumes we saw in February around September 1st.

May 1st thoughts & takeaways:

  • The Governor’s order to open restaurants and other businesses begins today. Yesterday’s volume data was pretty much on par for what we saw last Thursday. Fridays are usually the highest volume day, since daily rush hour traffic combines with people traveling to locations for the weekend or other leisure activities. We’ll see how this looks in the data tomorrow morning. I’ll be watching the late evening (6-9pm) to see if we’re getting higher volumes of people heading out to eat or whatever.

  • The Austin airport reported a 52% decrease in passenger traffic in March 2020 as compared to March 2019. KLM permanently canceled its new route of Amsterdam-Austin that was scheduled to launch this coming Monday. March 2020 was the least amount of passenger traffic for any 1-month period since February 2014.

April 29th thoughts & takeaways:

  • Austin has seen about a 50% in traffic volumes and 10% increase in speeds since the beginning of the lockdown. It’s hard to see if the speed data is at all interesting as the data is collected at signalized intersections. Some increased speeds may be caused by speeding drivers, but it also may be caused by decreased congestion. Something to look into later.

  • Lyft scooters has decided to pull out of Austin permanently. The amount of shared mircomobility trips that we saw before COVID-19 may not return, ever. Many other providers were in shaky finaincal situations before the current crisis.

  • Traffic incident reports are down, but are fatalities or serious injuries down as well? Who knows for now, as the data takes a long time to collect and to be reported. However, higher speed vehicles and more pedestrians & cyclists is generally a bad combination.