AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin transportation officials thought traffic would return to pre-pandemic levels this fall with school back in session.
But data shows school returning only caused a small bump. At present, traffic remains around 90% with variations across morning, midday and evening rush hours.
Specifically, evening traffic has been on the rise going from 91% to 94% over the last three weeks.
“We are definitely getting back closer to pre-pandemic, whether that’s people coming back from the office combined with more activities. Whether that’s after-school activities for kids or running errands,” said Jen Duthie, managing engineer with the Austin Transportation Department.
But despite the rise in traffic volumes, data shows travel times remain steady and below average.
City transportation officials are now keeping a closer eye on students returning to college. The University of Texas at Austin kicked off the fall semester Tuesday. Officials said they will monitor the traffic patterns to see if the open university adds to the traffic.
“We are expecting to see another few percentage points increase in traffic volumes,” Duthie said. “Certainly heavier traffic volumes around the campus area, UT in particular and some of those downtown streets leading up to UT, we do expect to see congestion there.”
Students in the area have noted a change.
“It was pretty dry and all of a sudden in the past two weeks it’s been very crowded with traffic,” Augustine Clevenger, a UT student said.
Officals now expect traffic on Austin streets could potentially return to 100% sometime early next year. Next February will mark two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.