MD Marks Milestones in Transportation Network as Number of Highways, Airports and Ports Approach Pre-pandemic Levels
HANOVER, MD – With the lifting of the state of emergency related to the Maryland pandemic by Governor Larry Hogan on July 1, Marylanders are returning to roads, airways and other forms of travel in numbers approaching levels of before the pandemic, marking major milestones for state transport, tourism, and economic recovery.
At the height of the pandemic, travel on statewide freeways fell by 50% and passenger traffic at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport fell by more than 90% as Marylanders responded Governor Hogan’s call to limit travel to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has seen many of these trends reverse with the lifting of the state of emergency, the widespread success of COVID-19 vaccinations in Maryland and the start of the holiday season in Maryland. ‘summer.
“The people of Maryland are resuming their activities and their lives with growing confidence,” said MDOT Secretary Greg Slater. “The numbers we’re seeing in the state reflect the strong desire of travelers to work, play and experience all that Maryland has to offer – and it also shows the demand for reliable, safe and healthy transportation options. “
Roads / Bridges: Comparing the first week of July 2019 to the same week in 2021 – both leading up to the weekend of July 4 – total vehicle traffic on Maryland’s roads this year has exceeded 2019 levels for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Statewide figures recorded by the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) show a 0.4% increase in traffic levels this year compared to the first week of July 2019.
For the Baltimore area, in the stretch of the Baltimore Beltway between I-895 and US 1, average daily traffic this year was 138,460 for the week leading up to the weekend of July 4, an increase of 5% compared to 131,872 for the same week. in 2019. In the National Capital Region, volumes on the Capital Beltway at the American Legion Bridge exceeded pre-pandemic levels with average daily traffic of 226,851 this year, an increase of 0.26% from to 226,274 for the same week in 2019.
Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) bridges and other toll facilities exceeded 2019 customer volumes for the first time since March 2020. At Bay Bridge, average daily traffic during the first week of July has also exceeded pre-pandemic figures. Bay Bridge traffic increased 0.92% compared to the same week in July 2019, from 88,700 in 2019 to 89,514 this year.
The numbers leading up to the 4th of July weekend represent an important step in the recovery. Traffic volumes have increased in recent months, although weekly averages are generally still down between 6% and 10% statewide.
BWI Marshall: On Friday July 2, Marshall BWI Airport experienced its busiest day for departing passenger traffic since the start of the pandemic, as the Transportation Security Administration screened 28,655 departing passengers. Overall, weekly volumes remain around 25% lower than 2019 levels as business travel still lags behind leisure travel, but air traffic continues to grow on a weekly basis .
Port of Baltimore: The port has seen a strong rebound from the pandemic, reflecting consumer demand for goods and Maryland’s stature as a key hub for the growing e-commerce industry. In May of this year, general freight figures eclipsed pre-pandemic figures – up 2% from May 2019 – and roll-on / roll off-farm and construction equipment increased by 1 , 2% compared to the same period in 2019. The port increased by 235% in May 2021 compared to May 2019, including the business of a new major contract with Metsa Group of Finland which consolidates the paper volumes of Metsa Mid-Atlantic via Baltimore.
The port is expected to experience even greater growth in terms of volume, jobs and income. Last month, MDOT Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) announced a new container service across Southeast Asia / Vietnam and China with Maersk Line. The port has also completed dredging a second 50-foot-deep berth at Seagirt’s marine terminal which is expected to be operational later this year, and four new massive cranes to service that berth will arrive this summer. In addition, construction is expected to begin by the end of the year for the expansion of the Howard Street tunnel to accommodate the installation of double-decker rail cars serving the port. The additional deep berth and Howard Street tunnel project will increase port capacity and create thousands of new jobs.
Motor vehicle services: For the past year, the MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) has operated on an appointment only model to promote the safety and health of customers. Meanwhile, the agency has significantly expanded its available online service through innovation Customer login system. As a result, MDOT MVA is now serving more customers online than ever before and globally serving more people than before the pandemic.
From March to June 2021, MDOT MVA carried out a total of 2,720,358 transactions on all platforms – branches, online and at kiosks – compared to 2,495,519 for the same period in 2019. This represents almost 225,000 additional transactions or an increase of 9%. The increase was led by a 43% jump in online transactions, from 983,358 for that four-month period in 2019 to 1,410,958 in 2021. In June 2021, branch and online transactions were both higher than June 2019 figures. Even under the appointment only model, branches processed 303,391 transactions in June 2021, compared to 278,534 in June 2019. Online transactions increased from 232,602 in June 2019 to 390,151 in June 2021.
Additionally, MDOT MVA continues to lead the nation in helping Marylanders meet the May 3, 2023, REAL ID deadline of the US Department of Homeland Security. Currently, 80% of drivers in Maryland are compliant, one of the highest percentages in the country.
Transit operations: The MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) continues to ensure that bus and train services remain safe and reliable. Ridership on all MDOT MTA services has steadily declined by around 60% during the pandemic compared to 2019. For the first week of July, Core Bus was down 47%, Light Rail was down 57%, Metro Subway was down 78%, Commuter Bus was down 81% and MARC Rail was down 86%. Transit agencies across the country have seen dramatic declines during COVID-19, and transit use is expected to take longer to return to pre-pandemic levels.
To help support a return to transit, MDOT MTA is resuming full regular service on MARC and Commuter Bus, as many Marylanders cut back on telecommuting and return to work on site. The agency is also working to attract new and old passengers with features like bike racks on MARC trains and new three and 10 day passes for local buses, trams, subways. , commuter buses and MARC trains.
In addition, Governor Hogan has acted to mitigate increases in basic service rates mandated by law to support and promote the use of public transportation. Governor Hogan last month authorized the use of funds from the American Relief Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to offset the impact associated with the mandatory fare increase, meaning passengers will not experience any increases. basic service rates for the coming year.
The MDOT reminds Maryland residents and visitors that the state remains subject to federal requirements for the use of face coverings for all transit passengers and for those traveling by air through BWI Marshall and other airports .
As Maryland recovers from the impact of the pandemic, businesses and residents are encouraged to use telecommuting and carpooling opportunities and to continue the multimodal advances seen during COVID-19 in the areas of walking and cycling for transportation and health benefits. More information on carpooling is available on the MDOT website, and more information on MDOT’s response to the pandemic is available here.