Weekday road traffic exceeds pre-pandemic levels for first time

Weekday road traffic has exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time, new figures show.

The number of vehicles on Britain’s roads on May 28 was at 104% of the figure before the virus crisis began, according to Department for Transport data.

The rise in vehicle use on that date was driven by it being the Friday before a bank holiday weekend.

But traffic for the previous four days still averaged 96% of pre-pandemic levels.

Weekend road traffic has been at or near 100% since mid April.

Demand for public transport has not recovered as quickly as road traffic.

On May 28, bus use was 64% outside London and 65% within the capital.

The number of journeys on the mainline rail network was just 45% of normal, although that figure is provisional.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Despite the seemingly inexorable rise of forecourt fuel prices over the last year, the arrival of good weather and the prospect of getting out and about over the bank holiday weekend saw road traffic levels back up to pre-pandemic levels.

“Whether traffic will continue to grow as the remaining lockdown measures are lifted remains to be seen.

“That growth could create a big challenge for highway bosses if it comes back stronger than ever in the morning and evening peaks despite the apparent popularity of home-working.

“Official data shows that pump prices of both petrol and diesel have risen for the 28th week in a row, with the per litre price of petrol now 22% higher than a year ago.”