Seattle, the first major US city to take action in the COVID-19 outbreak, exhibited the greatest change in average speeds of any city. Average morning speeds on Interstates and State Highways has increased by 15 MPH on average and is nearly matching network free flow (no congestion) speeds. While some congestion is still being experienced in the afternoon, average speeds are up by 14 MPH. While nearly two weeks have passed since work from home guidance was implemented by major employers in the region and several days since all bars and restaurants were ordered to close, the area has not achieved free flow conditions across the network.
Interstate 5 northbound and southbound through running from Tukwila to Shoreline has witnessed extraordinary reductions in congestion. Travel speeds were 22 MPH faster in the morning and 25 MPH faster in the afternoon traveling northbound, while speeds were 30 MPH and 18 MPH faster traveling southbound. The speed increases traveling southbound in the morning were 100 percent faster than typical and constitute a complete elimination of congestion. Similarly, I-5 northbound does not have congestion during the afternoon peak anymore.
San Francisco, the only city to have issued shelter in place guidance at this point in time, has experienced a more dramatic increase in average speeds than Seattle. Travel speeds are up by 18 MPH in the morning and by 16 MPH in the afternoon on average.
However, congestion on I-80 both eastbound and westbound in the morning is exhibiting remarkably high levels of congestion considering the situation. While the period of congestion has decreased significantly speeds are only 6 MPH faster traveling westbound and 3 MPH faster traveling eastbound. In contrast, the afternoon traveling westbound has seen a doubling in speeds from 25 MPH to 50 MPH and eastbound travel is going 15 MPH faster than usual.
While I-80 is still experiencing congestion in the morning both directions and in the afternoon traveling eastbound, Highway 101 is fully congestion free traveling southbound and nearly congestion free northbound. Southbound travel was going faster on average Tuesday during the peak commute periods than the average free flow speed. Drivers on 101 southbound were actually going over the speed limit on average during both the morning and afternoon peak commute periods.
Los Angeles is experiencing increases in average travel speeds of about 8 MPH on average in the morning and 14 MPH in the afternoon. When analyzing specific corridors in the region: I-5, I-110, and I-10, the increase in afternoon travel speeds is much more substantial than in the morning. I-5 South, for example, is 25 MPH faster in the afternoon than usual in contrast to only being 5 MPH faster than usual in the morning.