Lyft driver George Gamble is used to summer traffic jams on the Vineyard, but the changing patterns are changing the way he does business.

With increasing bottlenecks near the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, Mr. Gamble, a year-round Oak Bluffs resident, chooses to do most of his driving from early to late morning.

“It’s not worth it to spend more time sitting than driving,” he told the Gazette this week. “Yes, you get paid [by the ride-sharing companies], but even that’s frustrating with the price of gas on the Vineyard, where we’re paying a dollar more a gallon than along the Cape.

Traffic is a topic for discussion on Martha’s Vineyard every summer, when thousands of visitors clog the narrow, two-lane paved roads that snake through the six Vineyard towns.

Well-known summer hot spots for long traffic backups include Five Corners in Vineyard Haven near the Steamship Authority terminal and the Triangle on Upper Main street in Edgartown.

But with new trouble spots cropping up, like the intersection at the airport, traffic planners at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and others have been working to better document the numbers while they explore future solutions.

The MVC has done traffic counts around the Island for decades, but not always in the same spots, making long-term comparisons difficult.

Three years ago that changed when the commission installed permanent, state-of-the-art traffic counters in six key intersections around the Island: West Tisbury road near Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown; the intersection of West Tisbury and Barnes roads in Edgartown; the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road near the regional high school and YMCA in Oak Bluffs; Beach Road near the Big Bridge at the Edgartown-Oak Bluffs town line; State Road in West Tisbury; and South road in West Tisbury near Alley’s.

Not included on the list are the Triangle in Edgartown, Five Corners and the intersection of the Airport Road with West Tisbury Road.

“One of the factors we had to consider with [choosing the] six sites was when there’s a lot of traffic, cars idle,” MVC regional planner Dan Doyle told the Gazette by phone. “That can sometimes create noise in the data, and corrupt the integrity of it. The traffic counter does have value but that counter alone is not going to tell the whole story.”

Still, the most recent counts from the MVC show that traffic is no worse and even improving in some spots.

The permanent traffic counters were installed at the six sites in November 2019, Mr. Doyle said. But with 2020 an anomaly due to the pandemic, he said the best comparable numbers are from summer 2021 and 2022. “The 2020 numbers . . . are low because the early months of Covid saw a great deal of social isolation and closures across institutions for in-person programming,” he said.

Comparing June and July 2021 with the same two months in 2022, traffic was either flat or down across all six sites.

For example, average daily traffic along the Beach Road site near the Big Bridge dropped from 7,057 vehicles in June 2021 to 6,583 in June 2022, a 6.7 per cent decrease. In July those numbers were 8,578 compared to 8,602 in 2021, a 0.3 per cent decrease.

On State Road in West Tisbury, average daily traffic saw a 3.1 per cent decrease from June 2021 to June 2022, dropping from 10,029 cars to 9,721. In July, those numbers rose slightly to 10,892 in 2022, compared to 10,652 in 2021, a 2.2 per cent year-over-year decrease.

A pattern of fewer cars on weekends was generally consistent across the sites from June 2021 to 2022, while July was either flat or saw a slight uptick.

Mr. Doyle said the commission plans to present a formal report in the fall, what he calls “a deeper dive, a three-year retrospective.” He also plans to install three more counters in the coming year: one more on Beach Road, and one on South Road near the Chilmark Store. “The third, we really need to figure out,” he said.

As for the increasing traffic congestion around the airport, Mr. Doyle noted there are more passengers landing at MVY this year. Traffic in and out of the retail business park adjacent to the airport is also a factor.

The commission and the town of Edgartown have been in discussions about a study, Mr. Doyle said. MVC executive director Adam Turner did not immediately return a call from the Gazette seeking more details.

Up-to-date information about the number of cars registered on the Vineyard was not immediately available from the state Registry of Motor Vehicles this week, but the most recent information on the MVC website reports there are 25,000 cars registered on the Island, plus another 10,000 coming onto the Island in the summer months belonging to seasonal residents. (The information is undated). There are 177 miles of public paved roads on the Vineyard. And the Steamship Authority carries about 500,000 vehicles to and from the Island every year — including cars and trucks.

Of course, traffic jams are strictly a seasonal problem, but that doesn’t stop the grumbling among Islanders.

“Getting here is a nightmare, isn’t it?” remarked Rhonda Sprague, a retiree who lives in Edgartown and was shopping in the aisles of the Stop & Shop on a recent weekday.

“Is it October yet?” a driver, stuck in Upper Main street traffic, shouted out the window at some year-round Islanders. They chuckled as they toasted him with their cones from the Dairy Queen across the street.