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Six Southern California counties have logged a significant decline in transit use since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Southern California Association of Governments’ (SCAG) first analysis of the coronavirus’ impact on travel.
Transit ridership in Southern California began dropping in March and then fell sharply between 65 percent and 85 percent in April compared with the same month last year. For example, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority logged a 68 percent ridership decline in April, and the Metrolink commuter railroad recorded a 90 percent decline during the month.
Vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) fell by nearly 80 percent in April from January 2020. However, total VMT is now nearing pre-pandemic levels as many businesses reopen, SCAG officials said in a press release.
“We don’t know what the long-term impact of the pandemic will be, but the combination of fast-rising VMT traveled and continued declines in transit ridership suggests that congestion and problems associated with it could return with a vengeance once the economy fully reopens,” said SCAG Executive Director Kome Ajise in a press release.
SCAG is a metropolitan planning organization for Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties.