HRTPO has recently released the 2021 version of the State of Transportation in Hampton Roads report. The State of Transportation report details the current status and recent trends for all facets of the transportation system in Hampton Roads, including air, rail, water, and highways. Many aspects of the highway system are highlighted, including roadway usage, pavement condition, bridge condition, congestion levels, commuting characteristics, roadway safety, transit usage, tolling, and active transportation (such as biking and walking).
The State of Transportation 2021 Update also includes an analysis of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Hampton Roads transportation system. Highlights of this analysis are shown below:
Air Travel – Very few aspects of the transportation system were impacted more by the COVID-19 pandemic than the airline industry. The number of passengers using the two commercial service airports in Hampton Roads – Norfolk International Airport and Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport – began to sharply decrease at the start of the pandemic, and by April 2020 were 94% below the level seen in April 2019. The number of passengers increased throughout the late spring and summer of 2020, and increased again in the spring and summer of 2021. October 2021 passenger levels were within 11% of the level seen in October 2019.
|Roadway Travel – Roadway travel levels in Hampton Roads were greatly impacted during the height of the COVID-19 shutdowns, but have nearly returned to the levels seen prior to the pandemic. Roadway travel in Hampton Roads began to decrease in March 2020 and continued into April, reaching a 39% decrease compared to April 2019. Daily roadway travel increased in Hampton Roads throughout the spring of 2020 and increased again throughout the spring and early summer months of 2021. By October 2021, weekly roadway volumes remained 4% lower than the volumes in October 2019.|
|Port Volumes - Volumes at the Port of Virginia have rebounded and are now significantly higher than they were prior to the pandemic. Cargo volumes (in terms of Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units, or TEUs) handled by the Port of Virginia had surpassed the previous year’s volumes by September 2020, and have continued to increase throughout 2021. The year 2019 was a record year for the Port, and the number of TEUs handled by the Port of Virginia was higher each month in 2021. In October 2021, cargo volumes were 19% higher than they were in October 2019.|
|Rail Travel - Similar to the airline industry, passenger rail travel was one of the transportation sectors most impacted by COVID-19. However, rail ridership has rebounded in Hampton Roads to the levels seen prior to the pandemic. At the three Amtrak stations in Hampton Roads – Newport News, Norfolk, and Williamsburg – ridership plummeted 94% at the peak of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. By June 2021, however, volumes had returned to the levels seen in the same month in 2019.|
|Active Transportation – With people spending more time outdoors and practicing social distancing, it isn’t a surprise that the amount of walking and bicycling increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Streetlight Data, bicycling levels in Hampton Roads in the first ten months of 2021 were 35% above the pre-pandemic levels seen during the same period in 2019, and pedestrian travel was up 29%.|
Roadway Safety - While roadway safety improved during the height of the COVID-19 shutdowns, the number of crashes and injuries in recent months has surpassed the number seen in 2019. In September 2021, the number of crashes in Hampton Roads was 13% higher than the level seen in September 2019, and the number of injuries was 11% higher.
The number of fatalities has increased as well. From January to September 2021, there were 133 fatalities in Hampton Roads, up 39% from the 96 fatalities that were experienced in the first nine months of 2019.
|Public Transportation – Transit ridership on the two largest transit providers in Hampton Roads – Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) and Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA) – remains well below the levels seen prior to the pandemic. In the early months of the pandemic, transit ridership levels were as much as 67% below the levels seen prior to the pandemic. Volumes slightly recovered in the spring and summer months of 2020, but ridership levels have largely flattened out since then, and continued to largely remain flat throughout 2021. In October 2021, transit ridership levels in Hampton Roads remained 49% below the levels seen in the region in October 2019.|
Much more information on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the regional transportation network is included in the State of Transportation in Hampton Roads 2021 report. The report can be accessed by clicking on the following link: