Per capita VMT ticks down for eighth straight year

Per capita vehicle-miles traveled in the United States dropped by 0.4 percent in 2012, according to the FHWA’s travel trends data released Friday. 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. The numbers suggest that, with a stable total VMT, we will still rely on highways for a long time. However, capacity projects based on increasing VMT may be good places for cash-strapped DOTs to look for savings.

Making room for the slugs

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is now taking slugs—otherwise known as “casual carpoolers”—into account when designing commuter parking lots. Although Virginia law prohibits people from soliciting rides on the side of the road, when it comes to slugging, VDOT has recognized the congestion benefits and does not interfere.

Business Insider, Nate Silver tackle VMT, and a request from SSTI

Business Insider is the latest non-technical publication to highlight the trend toward flat overall VMT and declining per capita VMT. Three years ago, Nate Silver, now famous for election prognostication, also wrote a piece on declining VMT trends for Esquire. While much of this information is not news to transportation insiders, SSTI is asking for your suggestions about how agencies are addressing this new reality.

Have we hit Peak Car? What VMT data tell us

Nationwide, the decline in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is well documented, as is the decline in automobile ownership. Discussion of the causes remains a topic of debate. Regardless of cause, this new transportation reality is already changing the way DOTs do business. Most immediately, reduced VMT has resulted in lower fuel tax revenues. But almost as urgently, reduced VMT suggests that transportation agencies review plans and models that assume steadily growing automobile travel demand.

Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy (Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG Education Fund, 2012)

A new report released today by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and the Frontier Group demonstrates that Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade. This trend away from …

Transit ridership continues upward trend in 2011

According to new figures from APTA, 2011 transit ridership is at the second highest level since 1957, only higher in 2008, when gas topped four dollars per gallon. An improving economy, rising gas prices, and easy access to transit information via mobile apps are credited as three reasons for the continued rise in transit use. Ridership grew in large, medium and small communities, showing strong support for transit.

More Americans commuting long distances to work

Between 2002 and 2009 the number of “super-commuters,” people who work in a metropolitan area’s central county while living outside the bounds of the metropolitan area, grew dramatically, far outpacing workforce growth rates, in all but two of the nation’s ten largest metropolitan labor markets. Many of these workers only make their commute once or twice a week, and worked remotely the rest of the time.

Gas consumption down to 2000 levels

Better vehicle fuel-efficiency and moderating demand for highway travel are combining to push gasoline consumption down to its lowest levels since 2000. Despite our growing population, Americans are using less gas.The downward trend both exacerbates the erosion of fuel taxes as a source of transportation funding, but at the same time suggests that agencies may be able to economize by rethinking capacity projects.