(The Center Square) – Cue up Willie Nelson: last year, travelers were on the road again in Washington state.
In 2022, drivers logged 34.2 billion miles on state highways – more than enough for 182 trips to the sun and back – according to the Washington Department of Transportation.
The total of vehicle miles traveled in 2022 represented a 1.2% increase compared to 2021. And while overall transportation measures within Washington show some level of recovery compared to 2021, most have not returned to their pre-pandemic 2019 level, according to the DOT.
Annual performance data like this and five-year trends for numerous travel modes on select state-owned roadways can be viewed on the department’s recently released 2023 Multimodal Mobility Dashboard.
The dashboard analyzes travel by car, public transit, passenger rail, ferry, airplane, walking and biking, as well as multimodal freight mobility. When combined, say DOT officials, the various data help the agency improve the movement of people and goods in Washington state’s multimodal transportation system.
In addition to a statewide summary of Washington’s travel methods, the dashboard provides sectional data for five of the state’s most populated regions: Central Puget Sound, South Puget Sound, Spokane, Vancouver and Tri-Cities regions. Information about the state’s most-traveled corridors examines how congestion and corresponding mitigation strategies – like incident response and high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes – affect travel.
The department’s Travel volume and speed trends dashboard provides highway, toll and freight travel data on the state’s most-traveled corridors with a number of comparatives between 2019 and Sept. 1 of this year.
For example, if you think travelers are driving faster nowadays on state highways, you’re right: 3% faster compared to pre-pandemic speeds. But during the same time frame, both highway and freight traffic volumes are down 7% while traffic volume through toll facilities is down 10% compared to 2019.
Some other notables gleaned from the Multimodal Mobility Dashboard:
Public transportation users took 137.7 million trips in 2022, a 35.4% increase from 101.7 million trips in 2021.Washington state ferries carried 17.4 million passengers in 2022, a 0.5% increase from the 17.3 million passengers in 2021.Amtrak Cascades systemwide ridership was 380,829 passengers in 2022, which was 71.4% more than the 222,216 passengers in 2021.Total air cargo in 2022 weighed in at 1.99 million tons, a 5.2% decrease from the 2.10 million tons of cargo transported by air in 2021. WSDOT’s Incident Response Program provided $87.9 million in economic benefit in 2022, which was 2% less than $89.7 million in 2021. The program provides traffic congestion mitigation through a combination of agencies, vendors, and other resources which respond to, investigate, clean up, and clear traffic incidents.