According to recently released data from the Federal Highway Administration, per capita vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) in the United States is down for the eighth year in a row, dropping by 0.4 percent in 2012. Eric Sundquist from The State Smart Transportation Initiative explains, “per capita VMT peaked in 2004 and has declined each year since then for a total decline of 7.5 percent. At 9,363, VMT per capita in 2012 reached its lowest level since 1996.” Sundquist further explains that;
“A variety of factors have been cited for the decline, including retiring Baby Boomers; less enthusiasm for cars among Millennials; a move in many places toward more compact and mixed-use development; and demand-side policy efforts, including TDM, tolling and market-pricing of parking. In addition, some trends that fueled VMT growth in the last century have eased: The transition toward women working outside the home is essentially complete, car-ownership has gone from rare to common, and people’s time budgets for car travel may have reached their maximum.”
Sundquist adds “as previously noted, fuel prices seem to have little relationship with VMT, and the trend toward lower levels of driving has persisted through economic prosperity, recession and recovery.”
On a related note, the Coalition for Smarter Growth released a new report, Thinking Big Planning Smart. The report outlines a number of transit projects throughout the region, including the Purple Line and Bus Rapid Transit. Check out the press release from CSG here.