Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Montgomery County transit use, return to offices remains far below pre-pandemic numbers, new data show

Park use and grocery/pharmacy shopping
now less than during pandemic

New Google Mobility data show life in Montgomery County has yet to resume pre-pandemic patterns over the first three months of 2022, and some activity categories have even declined below their pandemic numbers. Transit use in the county has been even worse this year than it was last fall, dropping from 43% below early 2020 ridership numbers to 48% below in early 2022. Workers are heading back to the office only 1% more so far this year than they were last fall, with residents working on-location 30% less than during the same period before the pandemic in 2020.

Wheaton Claridge Local Park

County residents in 2022 so far are still staying home 10% more than they did in early 2020. In a troubling change, residents have actually reduced their time in parks and in grocery and drug stores. Google data during the pandemic months of 2020 and 2021 had showed residents were actually spending more time in parks, grocery stores and drug stores than they were before the pandemic. Now even those categories have gone negative.

Buses lined up at
Rockville Metro station

Residents spent 5% less time in parks between January 21 and March 4, 2022 than they did over the same period in 2020. They spent 6% less time in grocery and drug stores so far this year than they did in early 2020, which is odd considering that Covid-19 cases were way up when the year started, and shelves were bare for several weeks at grocery stores. And they've spent a whopping 30% less time in other types of retail stores and in recreation activities this year than they did in January - March 2020.

County residents spent less time
shopping at CVS Pharmacy so far
this year than they did over the same
period in 2020

The data collected by Google is limited to those users who have opted in to allowing the tech giant to track their phone's location. It measures both the frequency of visits, and the amount of time those users stay in the places categorized in the results, such as grocery stores, transit stations and parks.

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