New Travel Trends Report Shows Increased Travel Halted by COVID-19 Pandemic 

The most recent Travel Trends in the Delaware Valley Region analyzes data for the 2015 to early 2020 (pre-COVID) time period. Most of the economic and travel trends during this period were pointing upward in a positive direction. This is as the region continued to recover from the Great Recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. Traffic crossing the bridges between Pennsylvania and New Jersey increased by 6.6%. Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT) increased by 3.1% on the roads in Pennsylvania, by 5.2% on the roads in New Jersey, and by 3.9% for the region as a whole.  

Some of the highest growth rates were observed on the major roads connecting Philadelphia and New York (shown below).

Source: DVRPC, 2022

Between 2015 and early 2020, daily traffic increased by 30.4% on I-95 between exits 35 and 39 in Bensalem, by 32.7% on the bridge over the Delaware River, by 45.1% on the New Jersey Turnpike Extension from the Delaware River through Florence, and by 17.8% on the mainline NJ Turnpike from Trenton north.

During this same time period, transit ridership was either flat or lower throughout most of the region when compared to previous trends. Bicycle and pedestrian trips in downtown Philadelphia increased in some neighborhoods, but decreased in others. For example, bicycle trips between Center City and University City increased by 12.2%, while pedestrian trips crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge decreased by 20.1%.  

However, all of this changed in March of 2020. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic significantly depressed travel throughout the region. From fall of 2019 to mid-year 2020 traffic crossing the Delaware River Bridges declined by 23.2%.  Regionwide VMT decreased by 17.8%. Traffic on the Pennsylvania Turnpike decreased by 27.4%, and traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike decreased by 25.8%. Most transit providers in the region experienced a 20% to 30% reduction in ridership.  After the significant depression of transit ridership in March of 2020, ridership began to slightly increase in April, May, and June of 2020, due to essential worker ridership, but overall ridership on transit was nowhere near the levels it was pre-COVID. 

Meanwhile, the share of employees working from home increased from 6% to 44% in New Jersey, and from 7% to 37%  in Pennsylvania.  

For details of overall findings, the full document is available at 2000 - 2020 Travel Trends in the Delaware Valley Region.

Air Quality Partnership
Tracking Progress
Connections 2050
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)
Economic Development District