Road traffic surges to 70% of pre-lockdown levels

Road traffic levels have spiked to more than two-thirds of pre-lockdown levels as people avoid non-essential public transport journeys, new figures show.

The amount of traffic on Britain’s roads on Monday was 70% of the equivalent day in early February, according to Department for Transport (DfT) data.

That is an increase of seven percentage points from the previous Monday and coincides with non-essential shops in England being allowed to open.

The use of trains and London Underground services on Monday was only at 8% and 14% respectively of levels on the same date in 2019, while bus use outside London was at 21% of the equivalent day in the third week of January.

Meanwhile cycling in England was at 171% of what it was in early March.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “This data shows that people are starting to travel again and are heeding official advice to use their cars and bikes rather than public transport.

“If the volume of traffic is any indicator of the state of the economy then things may be recovering faster than we might have feared, fuelled this week by the reopening of more shops.

“But it remains to be seen whether the legion of people still working from home will ever want to return to their daily commute to the office.

“Given this data is a national average the likelihood is that some places might still be relatively quiet while others could be nearly as busy as they were pre-lockdown.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson placed the UK on lockdown on March 23, limiting the reasons for leaving home.

But as restrictions ease, people are being urged to go to work if they cannot work from home and visit shops to boost the struggling economy.

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