Chicago Traffic

Possible ‘Carpocalypse' Predicted in Chicago As Summer Travel Begins

Health concerns on mass transit have shifted more drivers to roadways as states reopen.

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Some transportation experts are warning of a "carpocalypse" post-pandemic, as states reopen and summer travel gets underway, and the Chicago area could be hit even harder because of the number of freeways drivers use to pass through.

The Sam Schwartz Company, a leading transportation firm known for coining the term "gridlock" said mass transit ridership has plummeted amid health concerns.

“We may see an imbalance in demand,” said the company’s deputy director of traffic engineering, Sara Disney Haufe.

Haufe said more people may ditch carpooling and take their own vehicles to work. As businesses reopen, freight traffic has increased with up to 50% more deliveries being made.

It’s been estimated that pre-pandemic, popular highways like the Kennedy Expressway moved at an average of 5 miles per hour during rush hour, Haufe added. Post-pandemic, it could move slower.

AAA of Illinois and northern Indiana reported an increase in people booking travel starting back in late April.

“We anticipate that will continue to grow as states are reopening,” said AAA spokesperson Molly Hart.

Hart said top summer destinations are expected to be Canada, Mexico and within the U.S. this summer.

One possible reason? You can drive there.

The result? Higher gas prices.

For the seventh straight week, gas prices have jumped, according to GasBuddy. The Midwest has been hit the hardest with Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois reporting the highest spikes in the country.

When asked how long the transportation trend will last, Haufe said a lot will depend on public perception when it comes to safety of travel.

She added that walking and biking commutes are also on the rise.

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