Travel time peaked in the 1990s, new research shows

Americans spent more than 10 hours per week traveling in the early 1990s—the highest amount in two decades—but that number has since dropped below 1975 levels to less than 8.5 hours, according to a new study published in Transportation Research Part A. The resulting travel time peak, mirrors a similar peak in average vehicle miles traveled that occurred roughly a decade later. This earlier peak, however, suggests that important shifts in travel behavior were already underway well before the recession took hold around 2007.

Estimating the amount people drive based on accessibility measures

How does the built environment influence the amount people drive? Research by SSTI’s Logan Dredske worked to answer this very question. The focus of his research was to create a framework for estimating vehicle miles traveled based on conditions of the built environment. His goal was to use measures of accessibility as the principal proxy for the built environment. The research also converted vehicle miles traveled into greenhouse gas emissions and evaluated the ability of transportation projects to reduce emissions.

To reach clean energy goals, Hawaii needs to address VMT

Ten years ago, the State of Hawaii set an ambitious goal to reduce their dependence on imported oil and create a clean energy future by 2045. The Elemental Excelerator commissioned Rhodium Group and Smart Growth America to analyze specifically what it will take for Hawaii to reach that goal. The report on that analysis—Transcending Oil: Hawaii’s Path to a Clean Energy Economy—was released on Earth Day and explains that transitioning Hawaii off of oil will pay many benefits.

Millennials are driving more, but only those making the least money

The new 2017 National Household Travel Survey gives us our first look at changing travel habits since the recession. From what we can tell, the average American drives less in 2017 than eight years earlier. Driving also seems to have increased considerably among Millennials—but mostly among those with the lowest incomes—bucking expectations. The results may indicate that those with higher incomes are now choosing to live where they need to drive less.

Does telecommuting increase vehicle miles traveled?

Recent research looks at the impact telecommuting has on vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The research used the 2009 National Household Travel Survey to compare daily VMT for those who frequently telecommute to those who do not telecommute or only telecommute occasionally. Results indicated that more telecommuting was associated with higher levels of annual VMT. However, increased driving can be avoided with housing close to jobs, improved transit options, and support for transit-oriented developments.

Household car travel dropping steadily

Update: Our original post noted a major decrease in household vehicle miles traveled from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey to the 2017 survey. Due to methodological changes from year-to-year, we’re looking deeper into the new data to validate any apparent trends in travel behavior.
Until we can validate the methodology and numbers, we have removed the post. 

What is ride-hailing doing to our transportation system?

A new study from the Institute of Transportation Studies at University of California–Davis delves into the effects of ride-hailing (Uber and Lyft) use on other parts of our transportation system. What they find confirms some assumptions and disproves others. Interrelationships between parking, vehicle ownership, use of different forms of transit, and effect on vehicle miles traveled are all examined. The reasons respondents gave for using ride-hailing services may also impact transportation policy decisions.

Bridging the gap between research and practice: new study on the role of induced vehicle travel

A newly released study sponsored by CalTrans offers a thorough review and analysis of research and practice related to the limitations of existing travel forecasting models. The authors focus on limitations in forecasting induced vehicle travel generated by adding lane miles during a capacity expansion. Acknowledging that many practitioners may not have access to more advanced travel models capable of capturing induced demand, the authors recommend project staff in these cases rely on general elasticities while acknowledging the shortcomings in the analysis.

VMT growth continued, slowed in 2016

The total number of vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. grew by 2.8 percent to 3.2 trillion in 2016, according to monthly estimates from USDOT. This marks the third year of notable growth following nine years of historical lows, but still shows slower growth than in the previous year (3.5 percent, based on the most recent numbers).

A preview of the driverless-vehicle future: Uber and other TNCs are cannibalizing New York’s transit ridership and worsening congestion and emissions

The effect of transportation network companies is one of the central concerns of transportation planning, in part because TNCs can provide a hint about what might happen when driverless vehicles become widely available. In addition, to date the lack of TNCs’ willingness to share data has limited our ability to assess these effects. A new report focusing on these services in New York City, sheds welcome new light on the topic, and provides plenty of evidence for pessimism about the sustainability of TNCs, conventional or driverless, without significant policy intervention.