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Travel dropped significantly during Hillsborough County's Safer at Home order

i-4 traffic
Posted at 4:06 AM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 08:32:36-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Tampa Bay area transportation leaders will be getting a new look this week at how many people stayed home during the county's Safer at Home order and the resulting travel reduction.

Dr. Peng Chen with the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs will be briefing Hillsborough County transit leaders on what the amount people drove to essential and non-essential locations during the pandemic.

Chen said the Safer at Home order were in place in the county for nearly two months. Roads were, as expected, not congested during that time.

According to the Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, Tampa Bay area families traveled substantially less during this two month period.

ActivityPercentage Drop in Mobility Travel
Retail and Recreation-57%
Grocery and Pharmacy Visits-33%
Local Parks-70%
Transit Stations-70%
Workplaces-45%

Researchers said the only traveling that increased during this two-month time-frame was around local neighborhoods.

USF researchers say the pandemic helped workers to develope a level of comfort and expertise with various online meeting platforms and collaborating in front of their computer screens.

"As the economy recovers, the habit of working from home can be encouraged for certain types of jobs, if the performance is not impacted by telecommuting and teleconferencing," researchers said in a report to transportation leaders.

USF now says getting more people to work from home could be one of the tools to improve air quality, noise pollution and other health impacts.