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How the Pope's Visit Reduced Traffic in Washington, D.C.

Pope Francis' much-publicized visit to the capital in late September saw reductions in congestion and better travel times. Event-specific telecommuting policies and transit route changes appear responsible for the minor miracle.
November 12, 2015, 12pm PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Against all intuition, Pope Francis' visit to Washington, D.C. this September resulted in less overall traffic, not more. The region's Transportation Planning Board reported on the statistics.

From the report: "Overall, a modest reduction in traffic volumes led to a significant reduction in congestion and an even larger improvement in travel time reliability on freeways, and transit ridership notably declined for the week."

As for causes, Robert Thomson notes, "The federal Office of Personnel Management asked federal agencies to allow employees to telework, adjust their work hours or take time off. Many other employers also allowed telework and flexible work hours policies."

Thomson goes on, "Other factors may have been involved. Sept. 23 was Yom Kippur, and schools were closed in some jurisdictions. Also, some local transit services reduced or rerouted their buses on the roadways that were most likely to be congested during the visit." In other words, the good traffic was likely a one-time deal.

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Published on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 in The Washington Post
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