Gauteng’s major roads were one-third less busy in August, during levels three and two, than in February which was the last month before the lockdown started. Picture: REUTERS
Gauteng’s major roads were one-third less busy in August, during levels three and two, than in February which was the last month before the lockdown started. Picture: REUTERS

While our roads were eerily quiet during the Covid-19 hard lockdown, traffic has predictably increased as alert levels eased.

But Gauteng’s major roads were still one-third less busy in August, during levels three and two, than in February, the last month before the lockdown started.

This is according to a survey of vehicles fitted with Tracker conducted by data analytics firm Lightstone, which measured average speeds travelled along high activity routes in the Pretoria-Sandton-Johannesburg area in Gauteng.

The study found that commuters travelling from Pretoria to Johannesburg and back again in August spent an estimated 10 hours a month less on the road when compared to February. Traffic volumes dropped by 33%, from 1.94-million trips in February to 1.29-million in August on the N1 South, and from 2.02-million to 1.35-million on the N1 North.

Overall, vehicles based around the Pretoria area and commuting to the Johannesburg area travelled roughly 12.5km/h faster during morning traffic and 16km/h faster during afternoon traffic when compared to February and saved 27 minutes in travel time.

Interestingly, commuters saved more time during peak travel commutes — for example, during morning traffic hours, trips from Pretoria to Johannesburg/Sandton, Roodepoort to Sandton, and Soweto to Sandton were more than 10 minutes shorter on average. In general trips were significantly faster, with average speeds of more than 14km/h higher from the Pretoria area to the Johannesburg area and more than 10km/h from the Johannesburg area to the Pretoria area.

Those commuting from Johannesburg to the Pretoria area travelled roughly 8km/h faster during morning traffic and 9km/h faster during afternoon traffic, saving about 15 minutes per day.

Sandton’s key role as an economic hub in Gauteng was evident as large numbers of people travelled from Pretoria, Roodepoort, Soweto and Johannesburg to Sandton each day. They all recorded average speeds more  than 10km/h faster than the baseline: about 14km/h, 12km/h, 12km/h and 10km/h respectively.

The 33% drop in traffic from February to August indicates that many people continued to work from home during lockdown levels three and two.

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