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Traffic volumes and traffic data usage increased in 2021 – public transport lagged behind private motoring

Published on 24.1.2022

Whereas the pandemic caused an unprecedented reduction in traffic in 2020, the lifting of restrictions in 2021 was reflected as an increase in various modes of transport. Demand for traffic data is also higher than ever before.  

“The pandemic has drastically changed mobility habits in Finland. The proportion of journeys made in passenger cars has clearly increased since the start of the pandemic. This will make it more difficult to reach emission reduction targets for transport, and is also reducing the health-promoting incidental exercise that comes from using public transport. It’s important that we continue to have a functional public transport system and good transport services that provide a genuine alternative to private motoring. On the positive side, there has been brisk growth in the use of traffic data. This bodes well for the development of transport services and continued improvements in traffic safety and flow,” says Pertti Korhonen, CEO of Traffic Management Company Fintraffic.  

Air traffic picked up in late 2021   

International air traffic picked up towards the end of 2021. Domestic air traffic also started to recover, with traffic returning to all airports. The full-year traffic volume for 2021 (take-offs, landings and overflights) was 43 per cent less than in 2019. Recovery has been faster in other European countries.  

“For the first time since the start of the pandemic, our area control centre was able to provide navigation services to more than five hundred flights (524) in one day in December. Helsinki Airport also reached almost four hundred operations per day (385) in December. It was also very gratifying to see the Lapland charter flight season get off to a good start, as there were almost as many flights landing at northern airports as there were in record-breaking years. The impacts of the Omicron variant are currently overshadowing the near future, but we hope that the situation will soon be brought under control both in Finland and around the world, so that travel can continue without new restrictions,” says Raine Luojus, CEO of Fintraffic Air Navigation Services.  

The number of operations in January will be slightly lower than in December. It is currently very difficult to predict the booking situation for airlines, as travel habits have changed. These days, people tend to book very close to their travel date.  

Growth in road traffic still a long way from pre-pandemic levels 

In 2021, traffic volumes on highways and main roads rose by just over three per cent on the previous year. Although there was clearly more traffic than in 2020, annual traffic volumes were still about 6–7 per cent lower than in pre-pandemic times.  

There was year-on-year traffic growth all across Finland in 2021. The greatest increase was seen in Lapland (8%) and Northern Ostrobothnia (6%). The least growth was seen in Southeast Finland, Uusimaa, Southwest Finland and Central Finland, where growth remained under three per cent.  

During the fourth quarter, traffic volumes on main roads and highways rose by five per cent in October and November, and seven per cent in December, when compared to the corresponding months of 2020. Growth was seen in both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. Traffic volumes for light-duty vehicles rose by five per cent in October–November and seven per cent in December, while traffic volumes for heavy-duty vehicles rose by four per cent in October and six per cent in November–December.  

Trends in road traffic are monitored using Fintraffic’s automatic road traffic measurement points (LAM points). The areas have been divided in accordance with ELY Centres’ traffic responsibility areas. 

Rail freight continues to grow in popularity   

The relative volume of goods transported by rail has grown steadily throughout the year. The number of freight trains rose by almost 6 per cent on 2020. The impact of the pandemic is still being reflected in passenger traffic, as the number of rail passengers decreased. Long-distance traffic was down by about 5.5 per cent on the previous year, and the total number of commuter trains fell by about 3.3 per cent on 2020. Almost 14.3 per cent more track work was carried out on Finland’s railways than in 2020.  

“Rail freight volumes have remained at a fairly good level overall. It’s great that rail freight has continued its rise. A lot of track work was done all around Finland last year, which has affected the punctuality of rail traffic. This was particularly evident in commuter traffic,” says Sanna Järvenpää, CEO of Fintraffic Rail. 

Smooth sailing for maritime transport 

No major changes occurred in cargo traffic as a result of the pandemic in 2021. In fact, smooth transport ensured Finland’s security of supply during exceptional circumstances. For example, international maritime transport totalled 8.3 million tonnes in November, representing a year-on-year increase of six per cent.   

However, the pandemic continued to have a clear impact on passenger traffic. Although passenger volumes in November 2021 were more than double those of November 2020, the total passenger number was only 59 per cent of the figure for November 2019.  

Use of traffic data is on the rise  

Use of the traffic data provided by Fintraffic rose significantly in 2021. Fintraffic provides a traffic situation service to consumers, companies and the media, as well as open-source data for app developers to develop a variety of map services and navigators.  

During the second half of the year, 30 per cent more data was distributed than in the corresponding period of 2020. In the second half of the year, more than two billion interface calls were made to Fintraffic’s open data service Digitraffic – an average of more than 350 million interface calls per month. Use of Fintraffic’s traffic situation service also increased significantly. The number of pageviews for the Traffic Situation service doubled in 2021 to more than four million pageviews per year. 



Check out Fintraffic’s services:   

Find out what open-source data on road, rail and maritime traffic is available in the Digitraffic service:   

The Traffic Situation service visualises data provided by Fintraffic, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency and the
Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom) on a map. This service is available as both a web service and a mobile app  (iOS and Android)  

The Traffic Customer Service is a nationwide advisory service for matters concerning roads, railways and waterways. It is jointly provided by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, ELY Centres and Fintraffic.   

You can make reports on the condition of transport routes through a variety of channels. It’s a good idea to download the Traffic Situation service to your mobile phone, as it enables you to monitor the traffic situation in Finland and make reports on the condition of transport routes. 

Read more about road and rail traffic volumes: 


See also: 

13 October 2021 Growth in traffic volumes gains momentum 

13 April 2021 Traffic remained exceptionally low in the first quarter of the year 


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