Car travel jumped by 55% in April over 2020 levels

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WASHINGTON — U.S. motorists drove 55% more miles in April over pandemic levels in 2020 as more Americans return to offices and resume trips.

The Federal Highway Administration said motorists drove 256.5 billion miles in April, up 90.6 billion miles over April 2020. In seasonally adjusted figures, travel in April was down 4.7%, or 12.3 billion miles, versus March 2021, the agency said.

In a sign of the pandemic’s continuing impact on road use, U.S. motorists drove 20 billion fewer miles in April versus April 2019. Many Americans continue to work from home or are only going into offices occasionally, and the New York Times recently reported on the lasting changes that could bring for traffic levels.

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For all of 2020, road travel fell 13.2% to 2.83 trillion vehicle miles, down 430 billion miles, the lowest in a year since 2001.

Travel is starting to pick up in general, including air and transit, as more Americans get vaccinated and return to offices or take leisure or business trips.

There were about 500 million fewer airline passengers in 2020 and about 5.3 billion fewer trips in 2020 on buses and rail systems.

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U.S. airline passenger travel remains down about 25% over prepandemic levels, but has risen sharply in recent months.

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