A traffic analysis shows how strongly the Germans change their behavior in the Corona crisis.

What counts now to slow the spread of the corona virus as quickly as possible? Chancellor Angela Merkel made this clear in her television speech last week. Please stay at home, Merkel demanded. Politics followed suit at the weekend. Many federal states once again restricted the freedom of movement for citizens. Many streets and parks now seem to be extinct. However, to what extent the Germans are generally taking the appeal to heart and moving less through their cities, there have so far been hardly reliable and publicly available figures.


Now, a new analysis suggests that the response in the most important mobility area for the spread of the virus, local transport, was indeed massive. According to the international mobility app Moovit, the use of local transport systems in major German cities declined by up to 70 percent compared to mid-January – the time before the crisis. The sharp decline began on March 12, when the federal and state governments set guidelines for restricting social contacts for the first time. The decline was most pronounced until Monday in Munich with a minus of 70 percent and in Hamburg with a minus of 69 percent. In Berlin, the Rhine-Ruhr area and the greater Frankfurt area, the decline was still around 62 percent.

For authorities like the RKI, the data should be a further indication that the measures and appeals by politicians are working. Deutsche Telekom provides the authority with movement data from Germans, which, however, are not publicly accessible. Moovit is one of the largest data collectors worldwide. No other company in the world has such a large data set of local traffic information. The Israel-based company collects up to five billion anonymous data points a day, which flow into the world’s largest data storage for traffic and urban mobility data. Its app, which informs users about local transport connections from various providers, is used by 750 million people worldwide. The data include the use of subways and suburban trains, buses, transportation services, but also e-scooters or rental bikes. However, they do not take into account the alternate traffic by car.

The data set also provides a global overview. In Italy and Spain, which were particularly hard hit by the virus, the slump in local transport was even greater than here. Mobility in Milan’s mass transit systems decreased by 86 percent – the highest in the world. The one in Madrid dropped 84 percent. In contrast, in the metropolises of the USA and Great Britain, where restrictions on public life were only implemented with delays, the drop was significantly lower. The decline was 45 percent in London and 54 percent in New York. The decline was smallest in São Paolo, Brazil, at 28 percent.