Northern California Traffic Eases Ahead of Pending Lockdowns

Northern California drivers in the last month cut toll road use as coronavirus cases flared and traffic could slow further with a stay-at-home order for San Francisco set to take effect Sunday.

Toll road usage was down 2% on Monday through Wednesday of this week from the same time a month ago. That number is set to fall even more as coronavirus cases soar. Governor Gavin Newsom said he will imposeshelter-at-home orders on a regional basis once hospitals start running short of intensive-care capacity. Officials in six San Francisco-area countiesissued their own stay-at-home orders Friday.

The data, which covers the region’s seven toll bridges, is ominous for road fuel demand in the nation’s most populous state. Earlier this week Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an order for residents to stay at home that included non-essential driving. Toll usage is already about 20% lower than last year, according to data from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission/Bay Area Toll Authority.

California gasoline prices at the pump have risen at aslower pace than the national average because of weaker demand there, rising less than 1 cent to about $3.18 a gallon in the past week, according to auto club AAA.

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