Rush hours still easier, but traffic in Suffolk nears pre-Covid levels

PUBLISHED: 11:30 21 October 2020

Traffic levels in Suffolk have returned to near pre-lockdown numbers. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Traffic levels in Suffolk have returned to near pre-lockdown numbers. Picture: PAUL GEATER


The amount of traffic on Suffolk’s roads has almost returned to pre-lockdown levels according to monitoring by the county council’s highways department.

But one element of traffic that is still nowhere near pre-Covid levels are the morning and afternoon rush-hours which remain relatively light despite the return of schools in September.

The number of vehicles on the roads are now put at 92% of pre-Lockdown levels. In the middle of April the figure was well below 50% of normal traffic. The most recent figures are from September, just as the schools were starting to go back.

But even with students returning and changes to some urban roads to encourage more people to walk or cycle, there is no sign of a return to pre-lockdown rush-hour congestion problems in the area’s largest towns.

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A spokesman for the county council said this could be because many people were still working from home because of continuing social distancing regulations in workplaces – and because many employers were now encouraging flexible working, allowing their staff to work different hours enabling them to avoid the 9am and 5pm hotspots.

Those who do have to drive to work at their traditional times say they have noticed their journeys are much easier than they have often been in the past – even though some roads are closed to create new cycle routes around town centres.

While the amount of traffic on the roads – mainly private cars or lorries – has nearly returned to pre-lockdown levels, the story is different for public transport.

Rail operator Greater Anglia has said its passenger numbers have now recovered to about a third of pre-lockdown levels – it was as low as 7% of normal when people were told that trains could only be used for essential travel.

Ipswich Buses general manager Stephen Bryce said passenger numbers had risen to as much as 65% of pre-lockdown levels during the late summer – but recent reports of increasing infection rates had seen this fall back to about 50-55%.

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He said: “We are now running about 90% of the pre-lockdown buses, and from what we are seeing I would say traffic has now returned to pre-lockdown levels at all times around the town – we are having particular problems with the number of roadworks that are disrupting services in various parts of the town.”

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