How Much Are Americans Driving and Flying Now, One Year After the WTF Collapse in Fuel Consumption?

They’re not taking mass transit, that’s for sure.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Before we get into gasoline, driving, jet fuel, and flying, let’s look at what people are still not doing: They’re not commuting by mass transit. The ridership at many systems is still down 80% or 90%.

For example, ridership at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system – the trains that connect a big part of the Bay Area to San Francisco – was still down 85% in March compared to March 2019. Ridership has ticked up from the lows last spring but remains minuscule. People who have to commute in this era of working-from-home are driving. The infamous L-shaped recovery:

So how much are people driving?

According to the Federal Highway Administration this week, total miles driven in February on all roads and streets in the US fell to 205 billion miles, down 12% from February last year. Data for March will be available in about a month.

By comparison, during the Great Recession, total miles driven dropped for four years in a row, but only by 2.9% in total from the peak in 2007 to the trough in 2011.

Gasoline consumption has been rising in the US from the 44%-collapse last spring. By February, gasoline consumption was down less than 12%, which roughly matches the decline in miles driven reported by the Federal Highway Administration for that month.

But consumption of gasoline recovered further in March and April, according to EIA weekly data: In the latest four-week period through April 16, gasoline consumption was down only 5.4% from the same period two years ago, at 8.93 million barrels per day (mb/d) – an indication that total miles driven in March and April have recovered further.

Clearly, a lot of people who used to commute to work by mass transit are now driving – and it’s easier to do because congestion is not as bad as it was before the Pandemic. And that increases gasoline consumption for those people.

The other thing we can see – and we can see the details in a moment – people are still not flying as much to go on vacation; they’re driving.

So people are commuting less due to work from home. But many of those that are commuting and that used to take mass transit, they’re now driving. And more people are driving to go on vacation. And the sum total shows up in gasoline consumption, which has almost recovered compared to two years ago.

The EIA tracks consumption of fuel in terms of product supplied by refineries, blenders, etc., and not by retail sales at gas stations.

The long-term view of gasoline consumption shows the structural demand issues facing the gasoline market: Even before the Pandemic, gasoline consumption was roughly where it had been a decade earlier.

How much are people and boxes flying?

The number of air passengers that pass TSA checkpoints to enter the security zones of US airports is still down 42% from the same day in 2019, based on the seven-day moving average of daily screenings. The peaks and valleys in the chart represent calendar shifts of holidays. The most recent bump was the shift in the calendar of Easter:

But wait… The air freight business is booming. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the top 15 US carriers transported 10% more cargo by weight in February domestically and internationally than a year earlier. The surge in air cargo volume started in June, including a 19% year-over-year increase in September:

Jet fuel consumption in the four weeks through April 16, at 1.29 mb/d, was still down 25.5% from the same period two years ago. This is a mix of various factors. Airlines have been scheduling more flights as demand has picked up, but not all flights are full, and some are nearly empty. International flights are still scarce. And then there is the booming air cargo business. Despite the increase in jet fuel consumption, it remains at a three-decade low:

Electricity sales to all end users in the US – households, office buildings, industrial buildings, schools, and the like – have been on a dreary trajectory since 2008 for electric utilities in the US, despite economic and population growth, as these customers invested in more efficient electrical equipment and better thermal insulation, while at the same time, more manufacturing has been offshored. And then came the Pandemic. ReadElectricity Sales to End Users Dropped Below 2008 Level: What it Says about the Pandemic Economy, Households, Commercial & Industrial Activity, and Public Transportation

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  171 comments for “How Much Are Americans Driving and Flying Now, One Year After the WTF Collapse in Fuel Consumption?

  1. Jack * says:

    This is a very weak recovery & based on huge stimulus which cannot be repeated, any attempt to do further stimulus will see yields double again, Gov across the world are having to spend massive funds to support their economies & pay for the virus expenditure.

    The excellent graphs shown here can be interpreted like this also, after a year stuck indoors & talk of pent up demand they should have exceeded previous highs, just shows there is no pent up demand, people are broke, jobless, financially stressed, paying off debt, concerned about their future, otherwise they would be consuming a lot more fuel, doing a lot more travelling.

    • Joe Saba says:

      driving is easier to do because congestion is not as bad as it was before the Pandemic.
      maybe were you are but in Arizona, everything is open – schools, restaurants, offices, businesses
      back to full on STUPID traffic again – ie 2019 pre-pandemic
      all the Q-tips are out and about now that they got their GENE THERAPY shots

      • Jack * says:

        I don’t doubt it, but I was going on the figures, it’s a crazy world, I think this wont last long.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Jack *,

          I deleted the last half of your comment because, this being the first comment, you were trying to hijack the entire comment section with off-topic stuff designed to rile people up.

          If you post one of the first comments, it comes with a responsibility to stay on topic (fuel consumption, driving, flying, mass transit, air cargo), and not try to hijack the rest of the comments.

        • Jack * says:

          Wolf,

          That’s fine ya well withing ya right to edit, I have zero complaints, it’s not true though that I was trying to rile people up, that’s not the type of person I am, off topic sure, I can see that, I wasn’t trying to hijack the comments section, if it seemed that way I apologise.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Jack *,

          Thanks for the explanation. Yes, it can happen unintentionally. Some of the biggest derailments of the comments (something like off-topic 80 comments attached to the first comment) were unintentional, and I should have phrased my response to you differently.

      • Jack * says:

        Joe, you put this comment in thew wrong place??

        “driving is easier to do because congestion is not as bad as it was before the Pandemic”

        Cus I didn’t say it.

      • c1ue says:

        My personal experiences:
        1) I drove to visit family 2 months ago. The day of departure was *the* worst traffic I have ever seen in the Bay Area. It took me 2 hours to get to Livermore going on 80/580 – stop and go the entire way. And this includes the fall 2000 incident going via the 152 route where it took me 3 hours to get past the mountains such that I wound up falling asleep at the wheel of my car and having a single car accident – the only car accident I’ve had since a bumper scraper at the tender age of 17.
        2) The traffic backup on the 1st street feeder into I80 has had days with the most congestion I’ve seen. I’m talking people waiting on 2nd street to get into one of the side streets that shortcut onto 1st street.
        3) The rental car company from 1) above – had no cars even though I had prepaid for my vehicle. Quote from the employee: People are going crazy and have to get out. One woman told him earlier that day: “I just need to stare at a different wall”. Rental car prices continue to be out of control – both in SF proper, the SF airport and in Florida where I’ve been going regularly.

      • DrTravel says:

        Man, I just finished driving from Melbourne, FL to Charlotte, NC and it was like a traffic jam on the Daytona Speedway. Gobs of traffic and people in a rather enormous hurry to get where they were going. Trucks everywhere, too.

  2. One can only surmise from this data that the U.S. economy is like a dying fish on a hot deck, flopping around but going nowhere. The pent-up demand theory for a so-called Post-Pandemic America is proving false because of the historic destruction of businesses and incomes due to Covid-19 and the inescapable fact THAT WE ARE NOT YET PAST THE PANDEMIC. Don’t look now but here comes Covid-21, -22, and -23.

    The cheerleaders at the Interventionist Fed, in our illustrious (but economically ignorant) Government, and on self-serving Wall Street have created a financial bubble with free Stimulus money, below inflation/ artificially suppressed interest rates, and persistent daily manipulation of price discovery in the markets that the world has never seen before. The running Price to Earnings for the S&P 500 is now pushing 80 times trailing 12-month earnings. The dividend yield is around 1.45% while we are getting monthly CPI manipulated numbers that annualize to 3% to 4% U.S. inflation.

    When more and more Payment Forbearance programs at the State and Federal levels are finally allowed to expire because Landlords and Mortgage Issuers are taking governing bodies and non-payors to court, the little Dutch boy will need all of his fingers and toes to try to plug the Dike of Systemic Collapse. Borrowing money to play on Wall Street is akin to playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded 357.

    • Joe Saba says:

      economy is gonna be in fits and starts
      auto industry plagued by NO CHIPS, LUMBER sky high due to no production, so many others due to no production
      super inflation in commodities/things we need
      wages up pretty big – which means I NEED TO RAISE RENTS to compensate
      I paid $60 for sheet plywood – next stop $100

      • Depth Charge says:

        Good luck raising rents in a falling rents environment. You sound highly levered. Aren’t you the guy who was bragging about paying over $50,000 for a used truck with over 100,000 miles on it? I don’t know about the math in your world, but it looks ugly from here.

      • Fat Chewer. says:

        Dude, will you get over your obsession with rent increases. Thank you.

      • Frederick says:

        Good luck raising rents when people aren’t even paying their rents

    • Depth Charge says:

      “Don’t look now but here comes Covid-21, -22, and -23.”

      Enough of this fear-mongering. Peddle this garbage somewhere else!

      • Cas127 says:

        Even for mass transit the numbers might improve if those inert sloths made even a small effort (after 52 weeks) to markedly improve ventilation throughput, thereby decreasing concentrated viral load (a metric that has taken an insanely long time to get even a bit of traction).

        Increased ventilation volumes could have been trialed 9 freaking months ago…but these institutions are inert unto death.

        Increased ventilation throughput might not work very well everywhere (worst of NYC subways) but in the majority of mass transit around the country, there is much, much less of a problem.

        Crack a couple of damned windows and install a large fan. It isn’t the goddamn Manhattan Project.

        Except certain American institutions are essentially incapable of adaptation, experimentation, analysis, etc.

        • Fat Chewer. says:

          I would imagine that these trains are much like ours. You cannot open a window as that would put excessive strain on the air conditioner.

          Really though, these guys (foreign corporations) get big cash from the gov to run empty trains. It must be the very best of times for them.

        • Jack says:

          Fat Chewer

          This is a reply to your comment,

          Those foreign corporations you refer to in your comment, presumably put in their bid in an open, honest and transparent process run by “ your MUG government’s public transport reps”?

          Or am I mistaken?

          This contracts have specific obligations and come with penalties attached as well.

          So the whole premise of your comment that they should be responsible for the extra costs “ Emanating from the measures taken by the ineptitude of those same government reps to control the scary flu”! Is FLAWED.

          In commercial world “ contracts “ are the Bible that you follow, and your gov. Will fail to enforce any extra measures that bring about decreased revenue for them.

          You want to protect the population? You pay Mr taxpayer.

          Hopefully that’s clear enough.

        • Auldyin says:

          C127
          In UK MS media bombardment of Govt message has turned many people into non-reasoning zombies. Simple things like opening the window can no longer be discussed rationally in many quarters. People are scared to say anything that may start an argument.

      • Hardly fear mongering, DC. Look at the world wide spread of more contagious VARIANTS of Covid-19 which is biologically common for viruses to transform into with time. Judge yea not, lest yea be judged.

        The vaccines currently being given to the American public are very, very new, and personally, I am waiting for more REAL LIFE DATA to be gathered as we more into Fall with more variants popping up by the month. Pharma companies are talking about Booster shots more and more, so I will be cautious in my review of this medical approach, AND CERTAINLY NOT BLINDLY FOLLOW THE HERD OR KEEP MY HEAD IN THE SAND LIKE AN OSTRICH. Has our Government ever goofed in its application of alleged solutions???

        • Auldyin says:

          DWY
          I go to market-ticker.org for the gospel on Covid.
          I come here for the gospel on all things finance.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      With these artificially low interest rates and massive stimulus, unpaid for, they’ve turned even the most conservative of investments, owning your own home into a speculative orgy. A home is suppose to be a roof over your head. If you want to gamble there’s plenty of casinos out there including Wall Street. You should try to fix up your home and pay it off during your prime working years. That’s a lot of work in itself. The Fed has fostered this misalocation into people owning multiple homes and speculating on rising prices. This is totally evil. You would have thought they had learned their lesson from 2007, but these people are brain dead morons, and have learned nothing.

      • Petunia says:

        I don’t understand why the GSE allow more than one mortgage per borrower. I heard even the VA allows borrowers to have multiple loans. This is crazy and should be stopped. Taxpayers are the backstop to this craziness.

        • Depth Charge says:

          Because they are intentionally pumping a housing bubble. That was their “solution” to the past meltdown – blow another bubble.

        • Nacho Libre says:

          Petunia,

          I don’t think there is a logical explanation other than that it’s the government trying to help.

          “Won’t someone please think of the poor who can’t afford a house” – classic appeal to the emotions to pass horrendous programs.

          There is no good reason for FEMA to sell flood insurance, for Fed to print money or for tax deduction on mortgage interest.

        • Swamp Creature says:

          Petunia

          That’s what I’ve been saying, but nobody listens.

      • Lynn says:

        They did learn their lesson. They learned the ins and outs of it very well. Now they want to take it all.

        • Lynn says:

          I would LOVE to see the information linking massive purchases to politicians, Fed employees and friends of the fed that was understandable to average people not involved in finance. It’s got to be hard to dig up.

      • Auldyin says:

        SC
        With you there.
        Low interest rates have a very bad influence on all aspects of life. They make any dodgy investment seem worthwhile because they don’t need much of a proper return to beat the low base rate. I would point out for example that the renewables industry has only ever experienced low rates and we have no idea how it would fare at 5 or 6%

      • Maximus Minimus says:

        Fixing your home is not always possible if you’re stuck somewhere and can’t get out because of souring cost. Fighting them with clenched teeth until they hopefully get their proper justice.

  3. 2banana says:

    Is this normalized for more EVs on the road?

    “Gasoline consumption has been rising in the US from the 44%-collapse last spring. By February, gasoline consumption was down less than 12%, which roughly matches the decline in miles driven reported by the Federal Highway Administration for that month.”

    • Wolf Richter says:

      2banana,

      “Miles driven” = all vehicles, ICE or EV.

      Gasoline consumption takes a hit as EVs start to make up a larger portion of the US fleet. But for now, of the 278 million or so passenger vehicles on the road in the US, less than 1% are battery EVs. So the impact is very small for now but will grow over the years, and we should see a measurable decline in gasoline consumption due to EVs over the next few years.

      I think working-from-home will have a bigger impact on gasoline consumption than EVs for the next few years at least.

      • Auldyin says:

        Incredibly fascinating subject again, Wolf.
        A massive intellectual planning or not challenge.
        To move a vehicle 50mls takes roughly the same energy, give or take, so more EV’s should move that energy demand from pump petrol/diesel to electricity which means to coal/gas/nuclear/renewable. A more interesting point is that it also moves pollution from dispersed to concentrated at power stations.
        Congestion historically led to huge waste of petrol/diesel so manufacturers developed stop/start tech which would ease out congestion waste over the years. If congestion eases due to fewer journeys, it could mean all that investment in s/s is wasted and unnecessary. How many other so called eco-techs will be bombed out by cultural changes?
        Low interest rates have made it easy to burn money on low return projects which would be foolish at higher rates.
        The energy density of an EV battery is orders of magnitude lower than a tank of petrol so you are lugging extra weight around (that’s what killed early EV’s) and that goes back to electricity stations along with all the huge charging and re-charging and heat in battery losses and I2R losses in all the cables but heh! you’ve moved the pollution somewhere else so that’s great.
        The real killer is the fact that only about 20% of the total energy attributed to a vehicle’s life is actually used in moving, the rest is in manufacturing, tyre-wear, breaking, etc. This means that from a ‘save the planet’ point of view, the very best thing we could do is to make our current vehicles last as absolutely long as possible and cut down as far as possible on renewal or replacement, EV’s included and even worse due to new factories being built as well.
        None of this has good PR for anybody.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Just to add a point: EVs are much more energy efficient than ICE. There is not even any comparison. For a bunch of reasons, including:

          1. Electric motors are vastly more efficient than ICE (most of the energy in gasoline is wasted as heat).

          2. Regenerative braking.

          We have a hybrid that charges its battery exclusively by regenerative braking. Works great.

        • Auldyin says:

          I agree inside the vehicle Wolf, but that ‘heat lost in burning’ energy is moved to the ‘heat lost in burning’ in the power stations other than wind/solar. The killer for anything electric at a distance is I2R losses in cables and conversion losses from elec to chem and back for batteries and the actual heating of the batteries and motors. Being crazy for a moment, the waste heat of ICE could be used to run an extra cylinder as a steam engine to add power and increase overall efficiency but it’s not worth the hassle because the fuel is so cheap.
          Vested interests never do any unattractive math. You have to take the total energy right back to source. Is it cheaper to mine copper than iron for example?

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Wolf-your autocorrect is at it again. Your vehicle is being halted by ‘creative destruction’…(….umm, i guess it COULD be… :). thanks, as always.

          and, may we all find a better day.

        • Auldyin says:

          Sorry to come back on this Wolf,
          First, I should have said I’m with you entirely on on-board hybrid ICE.
          It may be only marginally on topic but I haven’t had a chance to talk about this stuff for years, I have strong views, I’ll tell you why, if you can stand the time.
          I lived in Channel Islands, as an engineer, nuts about motors, in the 1960’s. It was an idyllic life apart from, every afternoon, at 4.30 all the tourists drove their hire cars back from the beaches to dine at their hotels. This caused the mother of all jams even in the 60’s. I got so pi**ed I walked 2mls to work every day but nearly choked on the exhaust of engines idling even with a sea breeze. I thought, sod this, I’m an engineer, I can sort this. My basic idea was battery electric but with the smallest possible ICE under the hood constantly balancing the batteries. The math was terrific, we basically estimated the average energy demand of a typical journey and matched it to the smallest possible ICE to do the job.
          I got into fanatically reading about all ICE development (Japan). They concluded, way back then, that an alloy 3cyl blown, direct injection, lean-burn 2-stroke was the most mathematically efficient configuration for a basic ICE. With no throttle and running at a constant designed 3000rpm you had the least fuel burning ever per hp. For our project we ended up with 200ccs for the 40mph and relatively flat hills of the CI. UK came out at 500-ish ccs for steeper hills and higher average speeds.
          The ICE was to be directly bolted to a 50v brushed DC dynamo which was to be directly connected to a 100hp motor via a field controller. It took 5 standard batteries for balancing.
          You would start the engine which then ran constantly at 3000rpm. Brisk acceleration ran down the batteries until you got to cruising when the tiny engine held on its own, if you dropped below cruising the batteries got charged for the next big demand and so on. In a traffic jam the engine could be cut to battery only.
          I seriously thought, it was so perfect, I was going to be rich. I spoke to a patent agent who told me it was unlikely to get a patent because all the tech was well established and somebody would have written about it somewhere in the literature going back to Victorian times. He said I was best to flog the idea to somebody already in the field. That was where the despair started, I spent hours listening to people telling me how it could never work. It would be too expensive blah, blah, blah. My mates laughed and said “what’s up prof?” I utterly gave up on a totally lost cause, I’m only glad I didn’t spend much other than time on it.
          None of the current iterations are truly the same system but I’m glad to see hybrid has become mainstream after ‘only’ 50yrs. GM came closest but their installed ICE was much bigger than we envisaged, maybe they wanted more performance rather than pure economy. I don’t think it did well in the early market.
          Thanks for letting me talk about all this stuff again, Wolf, I won’t bore you with it again.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Great story. Lots of smart people ended up banging their head into a wall when it came to the automotive world.

  4. Depth Charge says:

    I learned in 2005 that fuel can get expensive in a hurry, and I adjusted my lifestyle accordingly. I have never gone back to the driving around without a purpose thing. I used to do over 25,000 per year, every year. I learned to plan my trips and cut out all unnecessary ones. I am now able to drive less than 5,000 per year for all of my personal stuff. It’s a huge savings not only in fuel, but wear and tear and maintenance and repair.

    • Depth Charge says:

      The massive price spike wasn’t until 2008, but 2005-2006 saw huge increases. That’s when I started changing my habits.

      • SpencerG says:

        Somehow or another I guessed right in 2005 that gas prices were going up and up and up. I personally switched from the SUV that I had been driving for eighteen years (that only got 15 miles to the gallon by that point) to a sedan that got 25 MPG. I didn’t switch back to an SUV until 2012… as gas prices started coming down.

        TWO correct guesses!

      • MCH says:

        Yes, economics is the way to change habits. But let’s face it, you are still driving 5000 a year for personal reasons… how can that be made more prohibitive so we can save the Earth. Cause according to the EPA, that’s almost 2 tons of CO2. ?

        Then, taking a giant tangent from there.

        How long until we get someone who gets into power that believes in the “science” which says at this rate, the planet is doomed in 10 years unless we drop human emissions by this much. Then that same person applies some basic math which says we need to reduce X tons of emissions from the atmosphere due to human activity to save the planet, the annual rate of emission per human is Y. X/Y means we need Z amount of equivalent annual human reduction, we can’t get everyone to cooperate and so we need a more radical solution.

        • Shells says:

          This is not the way.

        • MCH says:

          @Shell

          The Mandalorian might disagree with you. ?

        • Nacho Libre says:

          Have you thought about the electronic device you are using to write these comments?

          Have you thought of all rate earth and nickel mining that is needed to manufacture the phone?

          Have you thought of all the CO2 produced when shipping braw materials around the world and then again shipping finished product to your hands?

          : ? : ?:

          Is that much destruction really necessary just for your personal use of an electronic device? Is that more important than saving the earth?

          can’t get everyone to cooperate and so we need a more radical solution.

        • Nacho Libre says:

          @MCH,

          Are you aware a tree absorbs around 2.5 tonnes of CO2 per year and gives back oxygen?

          If DepthCharge has one tree s/he is carbon neutral from car impact. If there are more trees, s/he should be able to sell carbon credits to Al Gore.

        • MCH says:

          @NL

          That’s fair, but Al doesn’t buy carbon credits unless he can arbitrage it out at a higher price. But DC is still contributing to carbon pollution, in fact, if he stop driving at all, we can get to carbon neutrality for the world much sooner. Well, at least 2.5 tons sooner.

          ?

          As for me, I need to continue to do what I do cause… you know the work I do on behalf of the environment entitles me to a higher carbon footprint. In fact, by pointing out DC’s and others failings and helping encourage them to improve, I am contributing far more to the environment than ever… by raising awareness. The fact of the matter is, I should be entitled to their carbon credit because I made them aware how bad they are for the planet.

          ?

          Yes, I am using the Kerry/Gore argument, if it works for them, it should work for everyone.

          ?

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Again, y’all-“saving the planet” is a null term-the planet just doesn’t care, having seen multiple extinctions of prior food-chain tops and human civilizations whose contemporary technologies allowed expansions to levels that those technologies could no longer sustain. The age-old human belief that we live on an inexhaustable, ‘savable’ larder is again hitting the fringes of its own human population carrying capacity. We carefully manage, reinvest in, and don’t take for granted the environment that allows us to survive-just as any sensible business venture should and would ,or as seen way too-often here in economic terms, don’t…

          (Ah, but the environmental lunch has been FREE for so long!!!).

          may we all find a better day.

        • Nacho Libre says:

          @MCH, your comments must be tongue in cheek. Missed it first time around ?

          @Aussie, it’s the hypocrisy that gets me.
          Living harmoniously with nature is great – plant a few trees, bike everywhere, live in smaller houses, buy local all are nice.
          I got a problem when politicians and celebrities fly in their private jets to conferences to ‘raise awareness’.
          I got a problem when country’s own economy is scuttled to ‘save earth’ while simultaneously ignoring the pollution happening in China.
          I got a problem when city residents who don’t plant a single tree lecturing rest of the population why carbon credits are essential.

        • MCH says:

          @Aussie.

          Save the planet sounds so much better than “let’s save some people who are polluting the crap out of the planet.” At that point, we may as well just say SAVE MARTHA.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Nacho/MCH-a common misconception these days, but for the record, ‘AUS’ (Army of the United States) was the component descriptor for conscripted, rather than enlisted (‘RA’=Regular Army) service (in the event, we all bled the same).

          Do my best to rebuild a little of the near-vanished NorCal redwood forest on our rural acreage because i can and am still able. Accelerating drought and also near-vanished local coastal fogs over the last 25 years are doing their best to hamper the conditions for renewal. Although i’m making one, i’m taking no bets on the future local landscape.

          may we all find a better day.

        • Nacho Libre says:

          We will. Thank you for your service!

    • Paulo says:

      Depth’s comment struck a nerve. When I lived in town pushing twenty years ago, I thought nothing of zipping downtown on a whim. Need some hinges? Go right now. Out of milk? Go buy some. When we moved 50 miles away that was the end of that, and our fuel consumption had been down ever since. We’ll now do a town run once every two weeks and have a list. Plus, we never run out of incidentals for the shop, lumber, groceries, anything. If I don’t have what I need my friends will, and vice versa. Yesterday was a town run and I did 7 stops, all on a direct line course. If someone has a doctor appt it becomes blended with other stops. I almost always have materials delivered for jobs, as the cartage is cheaper than hauling it myself. The driver lives here and they just send him home with the hyab and he does his stops late afternoon.

      A problem I continue to see with newer vehicles is complexity and the serialization of parts. Repairs have to be done at a shop/dealership because the parts have to be initialized. Try replacing a key fob for under $200. Our VW camper van is forty years old, the work truck is twenty years old, and the Toyota Yaris is now 12 years old. When EVs take their place, and they will, owners better plan on a maintenance budget or special insurance.

      We need light weight and highly efficient ICE vehicles that are built for economy and reliability. Transportation. No reason a $5,000 car can’t be built that gets 80-100 mpg.

      • Cas127 says:

        “No reason a $5,000 car can’t be built that gets 80-100 mpg.”

        Often thought this myself (although maybe the numbers are a bit over ambitious) but it is hard to divine the legitimate rationale for the stagnation in productive efficiency of certain US industries (see housing, medical care, and the other craptastic retrogrades of contemporary America).

        One shortcut to a fix, might be to look to the auto industries of emerging nations (there are more than Americans think) where per capita incomes can’t support engorged America-style price structures.

        And then compare what, say, India does with what the US does. My guess is that there are thousands in alleged US costs that are essentially baloney – simply inflated since US producers can count on ZIRP to make uncompetitive prices “affordable” when translated into monthly pmts, whose streams are then sold off to yield starved investors.

        The problem is that industry insiders know the detailed processes/prices best and are profiting from the current diseased system.

        Hopefully an insightful entrepreneur will come around to disembowel the rotten US oligopolies

        • El Katz says:

          There are several reasons that the $5-8,000 cars will never be sold in the U.S….. airbags, crush zones, tension seat belts, mandated backup cameras, emissions controls, road networks (those don’t hold up on American freeways – they’re basically urban cars), crash standards, as well as a host of others. Then there’s the leagues of lawyers in the U.S. that will file a class action against a wood splinter. Now add in the “plus sized” Americans who won’t fit inside one of those micro cars. I think Penske tried that tactic with Smart. How’d that work out for him?

          Lightweight? Yeah. Great idea. Now run one into a Denali. Let me know how that works out for you.

        • Artem says:

          Just looking around autotrader… Several dozen of $5,000 to $8,000 cars were sold yesterday.

        • Auldyin says:

          C127
          We live in an industrial society.
          The fundamental purpose of any industry is to generate revenue to share amongst its participants. Whatever industry you are in is doing the same and you’ll like it if they are successful.
          A lot of people don’t get it, that that’s true, for the Medical industry and the Government industry.

      • Lynn says:

        My old 1970’s Isuzu hatchback got 40-45 MPG. It had metal sides as well.

        The problem is most people who can afford new cars want something “safer”. Safer is marketing, really. My Honda CRV is rated as one of the most safe cars on the road. It’s total BS. Fiberglass or maybe plastic paneling, flimsy roof studs, top heavy with a weird “stabilizing” system that is dangerous in any condition except good dry roads etc. I’m constantly turning it off. I saw a you tube video of one in an accident. It practically exploded- parts popped off and flew everywhere. The engine is built well though..

        The old Isuzu was small and cheaply built, goats ate the insides (lol). It looked like a complete wreck. But it was actually a lot safer.

        • Auldyin says:

          Lynn
          and if you kept it going when it was old, you did more to save the planet than sanctos who bought a new EV.
          See my post above,

      • Pete in Toronto says:

        I heard that the ~$2,000 “Nano” car in India failed to sell.

    • Auldyin says:

      DC
      And your vehicle will last much longer which means you’re doing much more to ‘save the planet’ than Sancto SRs who buy a brand new EV.

  5. Yort says:

    It would seem that people are catching on to the scientific data that you are much more at risk in an tight, enclosed space, like mass transit and planes, than you are outdoors or driving in your own auto. MIT just released a comprehensive study that points to a suggests 6 feet indoors in a tight space is no better than 60 feet, yet outside 3 feet is much, much safer than even 60 feet inside, over enough time spend indoors. Basically you can measure the amount of carbon dioxide in an inside space, and the higher the carbon dioxide levels (from people breathing), the higher the chance for covid. Seems logical, does it not? Search CNBC article titled “MIT researchers say you’re no safer from Covid indoors at 6 feet or 60 feet in new study challenging social distancing policies”. This is why warmer states do better when re-opening, as outside is safer than inside due to the fact that air gets moved almost instantly and diluted/dispersed quickly (plus the sun UV is devastating for viruses), and the state re-opening data points to the MIT data results.

    Once people start trusting science over cult politics (and they allow the scientists to lead), this pandemic could/will become a thing of the past…

    • Jos Oskam says:

      @Yort,

      “…Once people start trusting science over cult politics (and they allow the scientists to lead)…”

      I have also read the MIT study, which confirms what various researchers all over the world have already been claiming for a long time. However, the usual suspects like Dr Fauci and CDC keep bloviating about masks, fomites, droplets and what not. The simple truth that COVID contamination risk is directly proportional to the amount of “second-hand air” you get to breathe is certainly not being loudly advertised by these people, who on the other hand keep claiming that one should “follow the science”. Case in point being the ridiculous wearing of masks while outdoors.

      Maybe I misunderstand your remark, but “trusting science” and “allowing scientists to lead” is certainly not a sentiment that is shared by the scientists I know. These scientists are the first to admit that science is all about uncertainty, about developing and disproving theories and theorems, about commenting and criticizing each other’s work, taking two steps forward and one step back, to hopefully finally arrive at a form of progress that benefits mankind.

      Your statement sounds to me like the “argument from authority” fallacy and I am one of those people allergic to that.

      • Implicit says:

        Exactly, I’m so sick of hearing about “listen to the science”.
        Science biy it’ very nature is not certain, just probabilitie, and easily manipulated with time charts that distort.

        • Dan Romig says:

          Pathogens are disseminated by individuals who are infected in direct proportion to what the individual is doing.

          If you are speaking, and at a sporting event yelling, there’s an out flow of germs. If you are calm, quiet and breathing through your nose, you are minimizing the out flow.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Y’all-my unscientific observation over the last 30 years is that many, many people want certainty in their life above all (in an always-uncertain world). Mainstream religions in this country have been struggling in providing that for some time, now. Many, many people apparently have shifted their faith in religious certainty to that of ‘science’ without a lick of understanding that science is only the best picture of how we understand the universe AT THIS MOMENT, and that IT IS ALWAYS SUBJECT TO REVISION in light of new and verifiable data. Science, subsequently gets a bad rap from those wanting it to be what it cannot. (…perhaps this is another way of understanding why the term ‘…as seen on TV…’ seems to carry such power with consumers…).

          may we all find a better day.

          may we all find a better day.

        • Auldyin says:

          I
          Science used to be about not believing anything until you could prove it by exact repitition but computers have bred a ‘belief’ that models can be built to predict the future. Models are not science, they are toys and nowhere is this more dangerous than *******.

      • Rumpled Bemused says:

        So, if were going to dismiss the collective opinion of scientists who have spent their professional lives studying these matters, to whom should we turn for advice? Granted that you will always find some who disagree with the consensus.

        The argument from authority fallacy seems to me no more than a sophist’s trick. A variation of an ad hominem attack. You’re dismissing an argument entirely due to its source.

        • Jos Oskam says:

          Nowhere in my comment do I advocate dismissing the collective opinion of scientists. But neither do I intend to unquestioningly obey every rule forced upon me in the name of science.

          I don’t dismiss the argument due to it’s source. I just dismiss the argument. I simply don’t respond to “because I say so” edicts.

        • Jdog says:

          There is a saying that is older than science, and that is to discover the truth, simply follow the money.
          The fact is that the vast majority of so called science today is funded by vested interests. There is no such thing as impartial studies when the studies, and very often the facilities themselves, are being funded by the corporations who desire an outcome to the study that benefits them.
          The sad truth of the matter, is that our science is purchased just the same way our government and our legal system is. Our country is the whore of Babylon, and everything is for sale.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Jdog-so what’s your price?

          may we all find a better day.

  6. MCH says:

    Eventually mass transit will fill back up, after all sooner or later the media will change the narrative and declare C19 a nonissue, and all the sheeple will listen and get back on.

    That and the fact cars will cost too much, and a combination of increased gas prices (likely via taxes) and an eventual mileage tax will make it prohibitive to own a car for the laobaixing… (no, it’s not a typo, I learned a new word)

  7. Landlord says:

    “Even in New York City and San Francisco—where rents tumbled by double-digit percentages last year over 2019—there are signs of a turnaround. San Francisco rent rose 3.4% in March over the month prior, according to listings website ApartmentList, the largest monthly rental increase in the city since the pandemic began. And in Manhattan, though there is conflicting data, some reports point to the beginning of a recovery, with rental prices rising modestly since the fall and high vacancy rates slowly starting to reverse, too.”

    Your dream is dead Wolf. Rents are going back up!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Landlord,

      As you should know, if you’re really a landlord: ApartmentList gives a combined rent figure for all types of apartments, 1-BR, 2-BR, etc., and when the mix of those change — such as more 2-BR in the mix — the rent figure rises without actual asking rents changing. Obviously, the local media promoted this view like crazy because it fit their dream. And now you’re promoting it here because it fits YOUR dream.

      But wait… The median asking rent for 1-BR apartments by themselves — the dominant type of apartment — in March remained at the multi-year low of $2,650, down 29% from June 2019, according to Zumper:

      And being in Canada, you have no idea of what is going on in San Francisco. You’re just regularly trolling my site under different logins.

      • Landlord says:

        “and when the mix of those change — such as more 2-BR in the mix — the rent figure rises without actual asking rents changing.”

        Do you even read what you write? ‘More 2 bedrooms in the mix? What the hell does that mean? The avg rent is climbing year over year overall. That’s good news for landlords and bad news for you- likely a renter or just someone who takes a perverse satisfaction in seeing businesses struggle.

        It’s the sign of a recovery.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Clueless BS. You’re clearly NOT a landlord, or else you’d know this: If you have a building with 10 2-Br apartments and 20 1-Br apartments, YOUR mix doesn’t change. Never Ever. YOUR mix is constant as long as you own the building. Your 1-BR fetches 1-BR market rent, and your 2-BR fetches 2-BR market rent separately.

        • Depth Charge says:

          Yet he fashions himself a landlord.

        • Lynn says:

          He probably has money in REITs.

          Well dude, you might want to make sure the REIT you own stock in isn’t selling rent derivatives on empty housing units. It sometimes happens nowadays.

      • Brent says:

        Mr Richter-if you dont mind my chiming in…

        ” Rent shall never lowered be,
        Until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
        Shall come against him.”
        Macbeth

        Asking rent is just that,asking rent.Like MSRP or sticker price on a new car.

        When was last time you paid MSRP or new car sticker price ?

        Rent is absolutely inflexible on the way down.Apartment building owner can keep 20% units empty and still make a profit because it is tax deductible.

        Imagine everybody is paying,say,$3K and somebody moves in paying $2K.

        People talk to each other.And they read for-rent ads too…

        Presently in the large cities of both Coasts it is “first month and last 2 month free”

        When that gimmick ceases to work desperate landlord starts taking in Section 8 tenants.

        After that the building or even the whole city block is in terminal, irreversible decline.

        Landlord becomes slumlord and is pleasantly surprised how much money he presently makes.

        Because paying a lawyer to fend off that pesky Housing Court is cheaper than spend money on maintenance & repair.

        Final act is torching the building and getting fire insurance.

        There is a book “Life and Death of Great American cities” by Jane Jacobs

        Somebody should write similar book about the life and death of great buildings ?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Brent,

          “Rent is absolutely inflexible on the way down.”

          Not true. San Francisco had two periods of huge rent declines, one of them is pictured in the chart above (now). The other was during the dotcom bust. It took over a decade for rents to recover.

          And yes, landlords do drop the rent to keep existing tenants.

          This is fairly common – and I experienced this personally. Back in the mid-1980s, I moved into a brand-new and what was then considered higher-end apartment complex in Tulsa, OK. Oil bust time. The local economy took a serious hit and people left the city, and the apartment complex had the hardest time filling the units. And they lowered the rent, and they lowered the rent, and my rent kept dropping without me having to ask for it, and a whole bunch.

          By the time I left four years later to move into the condo I’d bought, my rent had dropped something like 40%. Yes, landlords will drop the rent to fill the units. And those landlords that cannot drop the rent (due to debt covenants, etc.) will sit on vacant units until they cannot service the mortgage anymore and then they’ll let the bank have the building, and the bank or whoever its sells the building to will drop the rent to fill the units.

          And this is what is going on now in San Francisco and elsewhere. I’ve documented this with data in numerous articles.

        • R Hughes says:

          Actually “Death and life …… Written in 1961 as critique of urban planning of the 50’s. Dated but useful historical perspective of actions and policies of trying to help city dwellers.

  8. Beck Matthews says:

    Got vaccinated.
    Going to Indy 500 in May.
    Flying the family to South Carolina in June.
    Flying to Vegas in September.
    Driving to Buffalo to watch Colts play Bills.
    Just built an unnecessary, but awesome, 1,800 sqft 3 car detached garage in my backyard.
    Pent up demand is real and every dollar I spend is somebody else’s income.
    “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

    • Jack * says:

      Big spender, not everyone is in the same position sadly, pent up demand for you is real, if ya can call it pent up seen as you just admitted ” Just built an unnecessary, but awesome, 1,800 sqft 3 car detached garage in my backyard.”, that is isn’t classed as pent up demand in my book, it’s frivolous spending.

      Whether pent up demand is talk or has some truth to it, it’s all just spending, with 17 million plus or probably 30 million plus out of work I doubt they will be doing what you’re doing, good for you though, keep doing ya thing, I do have to say ya quote from the movie Shawshank is rather tasteless in this environment.

    • Cas127 says:

      Can’t wait to hear what you had for breakfast.

      • Anthony A. says:

        Isn’t that usually a Facebook post?

        • Beck Matthews says:

          The “Wolfstreet Curmudgeons” that drone on about their miserable existence are exhausting. This article is about driving and flying. I’m giving you my personal “boots on the ground” outlook, which is positive at the moment.

          I had a cup of black coffee for breakfast.

        • El Katz says:

          @Beck Matthews:

          The egomaniacs that brag about their fabulous lifestyles are exhausting. One can have a vibrant and fulfilling lifestyle without frequenting tourist traps or building outbuildings that are of limited value.

          And, as you said, the article is about “flying and driving”. I’ve been to all those tourist traps you cited and wouldn’t waste the fuel to visit them yet again. Like other “curmudgeons” on this site, I’d rather support my local economy where my neighbors get the direct benefit of my spending.

    • Depth Charge says:

      Are you lost? This isn’t Fakebook.

    • RightNYer says:

      Are you retired?

    • Lynn says:

      I don’t have that kind of money but I’m glad you paid someone’s salary and built something substantial that will last for years.

      • Beck Matthews says:

        I live in Indianapolis and I imagine most of your homes on the West Coast are valued more than my entire net worth, yet a lot of people on this site constantly complain about money and the inflation that drives their assets to incredible heights. I’ve lived like a person on social security in my 20’s and 30’s… saving most of my income (by limiting enjoyment) so that I could eventually buy a house, start a family, and attempt a business. This year, I spent a large proportion of my savings to keep 11 local tradesmen employed over the past 3 months building something that will be enjoyed for many years to come. I will be traveling (driving, flying, walking, skipping, sauntering) to places that I wasn’t allowed to go in 2020, taking my young kids on new adventures, and feeling sorry for the self-centered curmudgeons that find joy in everyone else’s misery. I started with nothing and I still have most of it. Take care of your family, friends, and neighbors AND let’s have a great 2021!

        • drifterprof says:

          Beck Matthews: “I started with nothing and I still have most of it.”

          Can’t help but smile at that statement, if taken per se.

          “Pent up demand is real and every dollar I spend is somebody else’s income.”

          That one made me smile too. But even taking it in the way it was meant, the money you blow in Vegas is mostly helping filthy rich folks who own the place.

          A lot of comments here express concern about how inflation affect low-income folks and retirees. One of the main strands in the streams of comments involves concerns about a national debt bubble bursting and ensuing crises. I don’t see that as being curmudgeon.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Please don’t knock Las Vegas y’all!!
          Not a gambler, though I used to enjoy playing ”real” poker with friends before the current fad of Texas type came to be…but only 5 card stud or draw, where one could know the odds of a hand and so forth, rather than the guessing these days.
          Was through LV on biz many times last decade, and the people in all the places from air port to rental car to hotels were consistently the most polite, helpful and friendly of my travels all over USA.
          And the prices were quite reasonable IF I was not there during some sort of special event.
          I hope to drive through there again this year, though now looking likely to be fall rather than May due to caution re virus.
          USA will be back,,, sooner and later!!!

    • Heinz says:

      Ah, a true believer that American consumption-based economy will last in its present form.

      “Get busy living or get busy dying.” My loose translation is: Get busy buying or get behind not keeping up with Joneses (neighbors, co-workers, siblings, etc) …

  9. Macrotrends were predicting work from home decades ago. That took a pandemic. The same trends predicted that electricity usage would drop, and that has happened to a lesser degree. The same trends point to less travel. People travel while they have family scattered all over the country, trends which came about during the economic boom last century, based on the new mobility. Mass transit is a boon for local residents, bullet trains are based on industrial time clocks. If you aren’t trying to make it to work on time, what’s the hurry? Fewer people are working. That’s the macrotrend.

    • Heinz says:

      They were predicting lots of things decades ago. Like we would have bases on Mars and Moon by now.

      One prediction that I remember well was that we would soon work much less than standard 40 hour work week and have more leisure time than we would know what to do with. (But maybe that will yet come true with proposed UBI or permanent unemployment benefits being proposed by crazies in DC).

  10. Jdog says:

    The recovery coming out of 2008 to 2020 was the weakest recovery in the history of the US. The economy now has failed to even come close to recovering to anywhere near 2020 levels. Unemployment is still above 2000 recession levels.
    Despite this fact, the Stock market is at astronomical levels, the price of housing is far in excess of what the average American can afford to pay, and inflation is spiking as if we were experiencing prosperity.
    The divergence between reality and perception has never been wider than it is today.
    That is not something that will end well.

    • Jack * says:

      Good comment, what I have been saying too, I think the higher the temporary inflation we see the more deflation later, it will shoot up for another month & then collapse into massive deflation. everything has to revert to the mean, it doesn’t just go there, it falls way below it at first.

    • Kurtismayfield says:

      https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNU01300060

      The FRED data from 2000-roday for percentage of working age population looks abysmal. I don’t understand hop people believe the government “unemployment numbers” when they hide the truth.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        Kurtis-apt description of a very long-running, (conveniently/intentionally?) widespread-and-blindered issue. (Combine with ‘hedonics’ for a truly-tush-kickin’ cocktail…).

        may we all find a better day.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      Jdog

      Add to that, 10 million are still unemployed from the Feb 2020 peak. Their jobs are probably gone forever. A lot are collecting benefits which will soon expire. They will become unemployable. Not a pretty picture.

      • David Hall says:

        I saw a sign at a distributor, “Class A Drivers Wanted.” There is also a driver shortage causing intermittent interrupted trash removal in a nearby county.

        • RightNYer says:

          Yeah, here’s the issue. Are any of the companies hiring commercial truck drivers offering to pay for the training? Because if not, it’s not hard to see why unemployed people aren’t keen on laying out several thousand dollars or whatever it costs to learn and take the test, for the possibility of a job at the end of it.

        • Depth Charge says:

          The only way to become an OTR driver these days is to sign onto a company and then live in the cab with a stranger, sleeping in the berth while they’re driving, and vice-versa. I don’t know about you but that’s a HELL NO from me.

        • RightNYer says:

          Depth, is that like a training thing? Or is that for two full time truckers, just so they can switch off?

          Because that sounds insane that anyone agrees to that, even pre-COVID. Yikes!

        • Swamp Creature says:

          I see these signs “Drivers wanted” all over the place. Take away the unemployment boondoggle and these sorry a$ses will have to get off their butts and take one of these trucker jobs.

    • YuShan says:

      “Despite this fact, the Stock market is at astronomical levels”

      I consider the stock market to be a contra indicator nowadays in how well the economy is doing. If the economy was booming, you would see much higher real interest rates and the stock market would be nowhere near the current bubble levels.

      • Old school says:

        I think we may be close to moment of truth. Congress doling out money is causing inflation. How long can Fed keep monetizing debt and keep Zirp if inflation runs hot? Financial markets going to tumble if inflation gets going.

  11. SpencerG says:

    I have college friends who fly for both FedEx and UPS… from what they tell me I wouldn’t expect a 10 to 20 percent increase in air freight tonnage to increase the number of flights by much at all. Those services charge a premium for speedy delivery and their planes are rarely full.

  12. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Jet fuel consumption will rise when business people will start flying to international destinations, instead of zooming.
    2) NDX made a new all time high. NDX weekly is Harami, a pregnant
    woman, an inside bar.
    3) NDX high might be premature.
    4) After correction NDX might fly higher to 17,000.
    5) Wall street will start flying to international destinations to visit customers and to look for new customers, instead of hiding behind conference calls.
    5) At the low, jets fuel refineries and the energy sector will be more attractive than NDX.
    6) Aborting Keystone XL and the new TM pipeline to Asia & China, might force US to buy oil either from Venezuela or Iran, or both.
    7) If US will buy oil from Iran, China will lose their 60% discount, bartering trinkets.
    8) What is bad for China is good for US.
    9) Constricting Cheap oil from Tehran is good for Putin.

  13. MonkeyBusiness says:

    Why would people get on BART or the New York Metro. If you happen to meet the wrong kind of people, might as well be a death trap.

    • Dan Romig says:

      M B,

      A four minute walk to the local light rail station; $2.50 at rush hour bright & early to get on the south bound train; 25 to 30 minutes later to walk into Terminal 1 @ MSP and catch a flight. That’s why I will take mass transit soon.

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        Not sure where MSP is, but it’s not cheap commuting by BART to SFO. It’s at least 7 or 8 bucks one way.

        It’s been a while since I’ve taken the New York Metro, but if I remember correctly, it’s not exactly cheap taking the metro to JFK or La Guardia either depending where you live.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Montgomery St. (Financial District) to SF Airport: $3.60 Senior Clipper ?

        • MonkeyBusiness says:

          Senior Clipper says it all. bart.gov says it’s 9.65 for me. I live in Daly City and it’s 8.65, which is highway robbery since the airport is 4 stops away.

        • RightNYer says:

          The NYC subway is a flat $2.75 no matter how far you go. But you can’t take the subway directly to JFK or LaGuardia, you have to transfer to a bus or pay extra for the AirTrain

        • MonkeyBusiness says:

          Seems like the AirTrain is 10 plus. Not cheap, although better than 52 dollars for Taxi. I am guessing Uber might be cheaper.

        • RightNYer says:

          When I lived in New York, Uber was the better choice much of the time, and almost always when you had two people.

      • Dan Romig says:

        MSP is Minneapolis & St. Paul.

        Non rush hour fares are $2.00. For ages 6 to 12, seniors age 65 + and Medicare card holder it is $1.00 at non rush hour times. Rush hour fares are $2.50 across the board.

  14. The Bob who cried Wolf says:

    CA is car centric. The mass transit agenda driven folks are going to keep pushing for busses and choo choo’s to take people from here to there. These cars aren’t going away anytime soon, even if they take all the parking away, people still have cars.
    Brings back memories of “Walking in LA” by Missing Persons.

    • R Hughes says:

      Don’t forget the high speed train to nowhere ( Fresno to Bakersfield) that millions, billions are still being pi–ed away, spent on. I am sure that riders will flock to ride between these two most desirable places.

  15. Swamp Creature says:

    I’m doing my part. I ventured out of the Swamp Metro area yesterday for the 1st time in 2 years. Purpose: to get vaccinated at a site 60 miles from home. That’s all that was available. Put about 7K miles on my family car in the last year just doing local travel.

    All training is done via Zoom so I don’t have to travel for that anymore. Where’s the discount on my auto insurance? Can they spare a dime.?

    • Kielbasa says:

      Swamp, have you called your insurance company? Last year I called mine to explain that I had retired and was no longer making a fifty-mile round trip to work six days a week. They knocked thirty or forty bucks off the semi-annual payment. Couldn’t hurt to try.

  16. Micheal Engel says:

    1) To avoid exposure, people bought in larger quantities.
    They bought food and all kind of stuff they need, or don’t.
    2) Covid killed just in time. Large lots have a large spectrum of items. Wide spectrum have a large quantities of bad items. Bad items forever stay. They are a waste of capital and time.
    3) Small quantities cost more. They are done in repetitions, therefore consume more time and fuel.
    4) Buyers of large lots stock them in their basements and in large fridges. Let the warehouse be a warehouse, not your $1M house.
    5) An overextended inventory force people to consume more and use it faster.
    6) A year ago, at covid peak, supermarkets were busy. Not these days.
    7) People are fed up being stuck in all day in their house. The coffee, the supermarket, the dentist, the gas station… send them out.

  17. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    We have been flying and driving all over the USA for the past year. Great places to see, and things to do. Just use common sense with hygiene and washing your hands. Stuck in your house? Yea, just keep watching the idiot box.

  18. Seneca’s Cliff says:

    From my experience as a daily rider ( pre-COVID) most of the folks on rail based mass transit were heading to office jobs in high rises in downtown (PDX). Those are the people most likely to work from home now. I think that is the bigger issue for mass transit than COVID safety.

  19. Crush the Peasants! says:

    Uncreative marketing on the part of BART.

    Better: ” Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to today’s BART Smackdown! In car number 3, from Oakland, California, a crowd favorite, Gangbanger Kenny!! And Kenny’s oponent tonight is nerdy Bill the Thrill, who will attempt to code Kenny into a coma. ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE???

  20. Michael Gorback says:

    I’ve loosened up recently. It looks like with the air exchanges and filtration flying is is pretty safe.

    Going through the airport is different. My mother died last week and I had to fly back to settle her affairs. By far, the dumbest thing I saw was no covid screening at the airport or car rental and no attempts to disinfect surfaces, (probably inconsequential since it doesnt work) but we had to wear masks the entire flight. I didn’t think flying SWA could get worse, but SWA plus masks sets a new record for a crappy flying experience. P,us I suspect they saved money by using old ironing boards for seats, which I estimate recline c 10 degrees.

    The airlines seem to have trouble with organization. Although my flight arrived 20 minutes early, it took me 1 hr and 10 minutes to get my luggage at baggage claim.

    On the way back baggage handling was fine but takeoff was delayed 45 minutes.

    Rental car rates are INSANE.

    Here in Texas for some reason covid is less of a problem. I went to a restaurant last night and although we we )ate outside, I peeked inside and the bar was packed, even though the owner, a good friend of mine, died of covid a few weeks ago.

    No idea what to make of this. However, since I’ve been vaccinated and since the 1980s I wear a condom 24/7 I feel protected. :-)

    I’m going to be 68 soon so this is my WTF time. Given how many good years I have left, WTF? Go for it.

    Sugarbabies, you’ve been warned!

    • DawnsEarlyLight says:

      “…since the 1980s I wear a condom 24/7 I feel protected. :-)” LOL

      Happy and safe travels to you!

      Condolences to your family.

    • Anthony A. says:

      Michael, condolences to your family.

      “However, since I’ve been vaccinated and since the 1980s I wear a condom 24/7 I feel protected. :-)”

      LOL!

      I’m in Texas too, and vaccinated, but no more condoms. At 77+ I need the blue pills, but get little cooperation on the task. I’m crusin’ and just listening to 60’s Doo Wop music these days.

      When I was working and doing oilfield projects, I put 35 – 40K miles on my truck. Now I only drive locally with maybe one driving trip of any distance per year. Last year I put 6,000 miles on the car. I may sell my Mustang Convertible since I only drive it occasionally.

      • Bobber says:

        About 20 years ago, a guy on a ski lift told me Viagra does wonders. He explained it comes in two doses. The 100mg pill works well at home, and the 20 mg pill works well when traveling.

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for the laugh.sorry abt your mom :(

    • R Hughes says:

      Disagree. Few days ago flight to PSP from SEA, Alaska, 937, 900 series. Every seat full, packed like sardines just like old flights. Watched turn around in PSP 30 minutes later, only cleaning and sanitizing in 1st, otherwise just trash pick up. Yes masks, but we know how effective these are, and after passing out of bottled water masks off and many nursed water bottle for remainder to avoid mask.

      Petri dish and also unpleasant ( over weight ) individual in adjacent seat. No more.

  21. MiTurn says:

    So since fewer people are flying, has the TSA laid off employees? Since mass transit is down so steeply, have these folks, e.g. BART, laid off employees? As government agencies, probobly not — just a lot of redundancies.

    Just curious though.

    • RightNYer says:

      Why would governments lay off anyone? They just got $350 billion to replace $35 billion in lost revenue.

      • Old school says:

        You need a safety net, but government political spending will make the economy less productive in the future and therefore society poorer.

        Instead of forcing change on government poorly performing enterprises people are going to get paid and money will be printed and dropped in even if there is no demand. Heard the new stimulus has money for education spread out over 7-8 years. Yes. They have done such a great job, we need to pour more money in.

        Government has given up on taxes and just going for the inflation tax now.

        Taxes via inflation, income and cap gains will go up on private enterprises. Media paints money losing government enterprises as holy and for profit companies as we evil.

        • RightNYer says:

          I’m not disagreeing that it’s a problem, I meant more that local governments have no incentive to tighten the belts if Congress will print money for them.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Considering that U.S. businesses have done their level best to do away with longterm training/decent pay/pensioned employment (even to the point of gaming their remaining pension plans into bankruptcy and offloading them onto the taxpayers) in their own ranks over the last 50 years, methinks many of them protest a bit too much when observing those who saw what was happening and made what might be considered a smart move into government service.

          (…that said, a probably unachievable, unbiased gov’t agency that measures true costs & effects of its business regulation remains an unrealized, decades-old issue…).

          may we all find a better day.

  22. Rcohn says:

    According to news reports , it is again becoming difficult to find parking spaces in SF .
    I have a friend who is a traffic supervisor . He stated that he was lucky to have retained his job last winter , when many were laid off. Recently he told me that many of the bus drivers were called back , but that ridership is still way down.

    • Depth Charge says:

      Long time ago, early 90s, a great friend of mine was renting the upstairs of a house in SF along with some roomies. The owner lived downstairs. It was a duplex sort of thing with a backyard. I’m sure these days the place is like $2 million or something ridiculous because it was in a nice neighborhood, but I digress.

      Anyhow, the owner/landlord was some sort of bus driver in the city, maybe even tour buses or something. What was remarkable about her was not the fact that she owned this high priced real estate with a pretty basic job, but that she drank over a 5th of scotch every day. And it started in the morning. She was drinking and driving at work!

      Sorry for the off topic, but I just remembered that story when I saw you mention bus drivers. I’ll never forget her. Nice woman – she was in her late 50s or something when I met her – but drank like a fish.

    • MarkinSF says:

      Parklets

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Rcohn,

      Traffic has picked up, tourists driving in from the Bay Area and from further afield. Saw a tag today from New Hampshire. That’s like a long drive.

      Boots on the ground report: I just got back from Costco. San Francisco used to have a Saturday rush hour that was a nightmare, starting at around 11 am and went till late. Part of the problem were tourists who don’t know the city, and they’re trying to read street signs, and they’re trying to read their navigation system, and they don’t know how to parallel park in a tight spot and they block a whole lane for 5 minutes, etc. I absofuckinglutely hated driving in SF on Saturdays. But the Pandemic ended all that.

      Today the traffic was mild. Larkin, a one-way street that I take to go back and which goes by City Hall and is very congested for part of it, was super-smooth until I got to the block where it was closed for some reason, and everyone had to go around the block. If that had happened in normal times, there would have been gridlock. Today it was nothing.

  23. Gerry says:

    Correction about your graph: Not L-shaped recovery, but Hell-shaped. And not just because of the out-of-the-blue Pandemic, but because of intentionally bad decisions made starting back in 1981, when Reagan stole the Presidency and legalized stock buybacks.

    • Old school says:

      Nothing wrong with stock buybacks if done correctly. Problem is government doesn’t discipline big companies by letting shareholders get wiped out in recession. If you are a shareholder you are supposed to be watching management and selling out if they aren’t doing their job.

      • Swamp Creature says:

        Most shareholders couldn’t even read a corporate financial statement if they tried. They get their financial information from fake news media shills like Jim Cramer on CNBC.

      • RightNYer says:

        The problem is that Congress and the rest of the elites spread the lies about bankruptcy causing job losses to justify bailing out the shareholders and creditors.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Right-now compare that to today’s reports covering Congressional discussion of the lending industry, specifically those sheltering the sharks in ‘payday loans’. The gander apparently wants nothing to do with that sauce…

          may we all find a better day.

  24. Micheal Engel says:

    1) People keep their cars longer. Today there are more cars in US
    than ever before.
    2) Toady there are more cars in India and China than in 2007.
    3) The 10M g/d Gasoline Consumption set in 2007 is a barrier.
    4) In 2008 WTI was $147. In 2020 the average was less than $50. Yet, at the pump is price is about the same.
    5) In the 1950’s US industry was mighty.
    6) In 2020 China is mighty.
    7) In the last 5 years US rejuvenate their industrial capacity.
    9) That trend is up, because we can no longer trust China.
    10) Within few years there will be a global overcapacity. Baby industries need protected by tariffs. Tariff is better gov income than higher taxes on the supper rich.
    11) Since neither China & US are going to blink there will be a higher demand for commodities and energy. Blowing in the wind, the sun and ev batteries cannot fill the gap.
    12) Mini nukes might.

  25. Swamp Creature says:

    Drove 60 miles outside the Swamp to get my Moderna vaccine. Some of my neighbors had to drive to Delaware or Pennsylvania to get vaccinated. Drove on Interstate 70 to Hagerstown MD. On the way back I had to contend with trucks doing 80 MPH when the side effects started to kick in. It had the same effect as taking an opiod pain killer. Worse than being drunk. I had to contend with this bull s%it, just because our incompetent County government could not get the vaccines to the people who needed it. I registered in late Jan and heard nothing for 3 months and lost 2 of my best friends to Covid.

    As the gipper once said: The scariest words you’ll ever hear are:

    “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you”

    Congrats to CVS Pharmacy for doing a great job getting my family vaccinated.

    • Mojer says:

      But are you sure you have entered a Covid vaccination center? After 60 miles it is easy to make a mistake and if you don’t wear glasses bro

    • marc says:

      Funny how you don’t get censored while being wildly off topic.
      I guess it depends on the agenda peddled.
      Double standards, like all fake news outlets.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        marc,

        Re-read my comment above. When you post one of the first comments, it comes with a responsibility to not hijack the entire comments section. So this could be an off-topic comment that gets axed.

        If you put an off-topic comment in the middle of dozens of comments, and if it’s not designed to hijack the rest of the comments, then fine.

        And yes, political stuff of all stripes, name calling, rumor mongering, etc. gets deleted routinely. See the commenting guidelines.

    • Cobalt Programmer says:

      I got both the doses of pfizer vaccine (I am actually a young man. got them in my work place in the swamp, free of any cost). First dose nothing. Second dose is like a very bad hangover and fever like symptoms except I don’t have cold. While sleeping dreamed of the world spinning. Woke up to find I am actually dizzy. The next day, I lacked motivation to eat or drink. But kept drinking more fluids. Feeling OK now. Driving after the second dose should be avoided.

      • RightNYer says:

        Same. I didn’t get a fever, but I felt weak and groggy, but not until the next day.

      • Erich says:

        I got both doses of Pfizer. No problems with the first dose and only slight soreness at the injection point which went away after about 24 hours. My wife got her first dose of Moderna yesterday with no side effects. Goes back on May 22nd for the second shot.

        We will travel locally this year and hope to travel internationally next year assuming the world opens up. however I think Covid will keep flaring up here and there for at least the next couple of years (India). I therefore think it’s going to be 5 to 10 years before things return to something resembling “normal”.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      I just went to the CVS website and put in DC.

      I found 18 locations giving Covid-19 vaccinations.
      You could even schedule the shot for today.

      I clicked on one randomly and it had 9 time slots open from 2:45-4:45PM. That’s 1 hr from now.

      I also used CVS here in FL and it was super easy. In and out quickly. The shot didn’t hurt. No side effects.

      Getting my second shot on 5/10. y new health insurance hasn’t started yet. My cost? $0.00

  26. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    BTW, just a week into our spring residence near South Bend, IN. Enjoying a Hickory smoked Wisconsin brat, slaw, and potato salad, washed down with a cold Stella Artois in a super chilled Wolf Richter Mug! Nothing like a log burning in a fire pit under a crisp Spring night sky!

    Traveling the USA is a pastime we all should try to enjoy.

    • MiTurn says:

      “Traveling the USA is a pastime we all should try to enjoy.”

      Agreed. And there’s a lot of it to see.

  27. Micheal Engel says:

    1) In Oct 2018 the total of : gasoline consumption and jet fuel consumption reached 11.5M b/d. Today it’s : 1.3 + 9 = 10.3M b/d, or a 90% recovery.
    2) There were too many unfulfilled vacation days and too much liquidity in the market. That sent people out traveling. The drainage will send total consumption down.
    3) When WTI reached a peak of $147 in 2008, jet fuel plunged. The selling climax reached 1.3M b/d. It became a support line for 6Y until 2014. Now 1.3M b/d is a resistance line.
    4) Jet fuel consumption might osc between 0.6M b/d and 1.3M b/d, until international business trips will recovery.
    5) When WTI plunged in 2014 to $26 gasoline consumption rose to a
    new high plateau @10M b/d and stayed there for almost 3Y, until Oct 2018.
    6) 2016 low was a test of Oct 2011 low.
    7) The signs were there. Gasoline consumption at stall altitude of 10M b/d for 3Y and jet fuel consumption shortening of the thrust between 2017 and 2019.
    8) CRAK, oil refinery ETF, peaked in Oct 2018. Mar 2021 was a lower high.

  28. RedRaider says:

    To what extent is EV an Urban thing? Seems to me the longer the distance involved the more ICE oriented you want to be. Add on top of that what seems to be something of an exodus from urban centers. This recent push by auto companies to EV makes me think they might be zigging when they should be zagging.

    • Old school says:

      I see a real clash coming. The world can’t switch over to EV by hard fixed dates without expending a huge amount of wealth and with unknown unintended consequences. Seems like a gradually increasing carbon tax would have got the job done in a more efficient way.

      It’s the lawyer’s way of doing things, writing a hard, fixed date into a contract. We will see if it all works out as they dream, but I doubt it.

      • RedRaider says:

        Unintended consequences…

        Wisconsin has contracts with Illinois to supply them with energy. If Wisconsin went EV in a big way (it probably won’t – we have enough problems already with batteries not working in winter) then I have to assume contracts with Illinois would not be renewed. What are those poor people in Chicago going to do? Don’t they have enough problems already?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Suburbs are great for EVs. The longer the stop-and-go commute, the more you’ll save with an EV.

      But sure, if you live in a cabin in the sticks and don’t have access to electricity to charge the vehicle, then an EV is not for you.

  29. josap says:

    We took mass transit to the airport and flew to Cancun. Then took mass transit home after our vacation.

    Transit usage is still very, very light. Airport was mostly empty. Flew in and out on a Sat.

  30. Robert says:

    I would think that with many ground shipping companies switching over to electric (i.e Amazon ), this would place relentless downward pressure on gasoline usage.

    P.S- transit stations still nearly empty on the east coast. Ghost trains still coming in empty of passengers. I wonder how long until they stop the trains?

  31. Heinz says:

    My takeaway from article is people are driving more now and still giving mass transit the cold shoulder. Air travel is lackluster.

    I suspect if people don’t flock back to public transportation the $Trillions for Infrastructure enthusiasts in DC will take note and double down on public transit initiatives…

    As a result I would not be surprised to see them build more bridges to nowhere and fully fund frilly street car/tram urban light transit routes whether we need them or not. And of course tons of EV recharging stations will pop up everywhere whether they are used or not.

    I heard that in Europe they are proposing banning short-haul airline routes (inter-city types)– passengers would then be forced on trains. It’s all for the Green New Deal so it is all good and I expect it might arrive in US.

  32. rick m says:

    Lots of Texas and Florida tags plus quite a few Northeast along with the usual Louisiana, Georgia, snowbirds, etc along Hwy 90 from Ocean Springs to Pass Christian, more than usual. It’s really crowded in Biloxi, and Casinos and hotels are doing a good business, beaches pretty full compared to a normal non holiday spring weekend. Many Mexican tour buses shopping at flea markets and outlet malls. The coast wide vintage/hotrod Cruisin the Coast drive in event in September is preregistering more cars than ever before. Certainly seems like people are traveling, I picked up/dropped off my niece 2from airport, all her flights were full.

    • RightNYer says:

      Yep, I said all along that there would be a lot of travel in the first few months after people were vaccinated. I just don’t see it lasting.

      Also, on a more general point, I don’t know why people are so impressed that the government was able to increase consumption by borrowing $6 trillion. Like, obviously! The question is what level of borrowing is sustainable.

  33. SaltyGolden says:

    Not having to drive is awesome, you can drink more often and not worry about how you’ll get home.

Comments are closed.