Is traffic back to pre-pandemic levels?

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — No doubt, drivers have noticed a difference on the roads in recent months.

“Used to take 20 minutes, now it takes an hour [and] 15 minutes to get where I’m going,” said a passerby on Monday.

Is traffic back? Back…back? Not quite, according to some folks who spend a lot of time behind the wheel.

“No, it’s going to get a little bit worse I think,” said a Monday afternoon commuter.

It’s a notion that might be on point. The City of Cambridge has great data on traffic flows – a snapshot of the metro Boston region.

“We have data collection devices at 13 traffic signals in Cambridge,” said Patrick Baxter an engineering manager with the Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department for the City of Cambridge.

The cameras don’t record video, but count numbers like the cars, trucks and even bicycles that pass through. They were mostly installed in the fall of 2019, just in time to compare pre-pandemic traffic until now.

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“It’s certainly far higher than it was in the spring of 2020,” Baxter said.

We are close but still not fully back.

“It’s still not at 100% either though, we are seeing 75-80% at most locations,” Baxter said.

Roughly 80% of what we considered normal traffic with a 1-2% increase every week. For some that’s normal enough.

“Bit of a hell ride in the morning,” said a passerby.

It means back to the normal ways of avoiding it.

“We know what time to leave though, we know how to beat the traffic,” said one Monday afternoon commuter.

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