Time once again for another update on the big picture of driving in the United States: Vehicle Miles Travelled, per person. Long-time wonks who have been following this key stat might remember that it “peaked” fifteen years ago, and VMT (overall and per capita) had plateaued and was declining…
… until gas prices went way down and VMT started to climb again…
… until it didn’t.
Via Yonah Freemark’s blog, here are the latest VMT numbers as of July 2018. For the last year or so, per capita VMT has been going down once again.
Here’s the chart:
VMT is important because it “drives” the assumptions of future traffic patterns, which in turn drives investment decisions for planners and engineers. If VMT per capita is declining, it’s a lot harder to justify expanding a freeway or building a new road.
That’s what the data says, but in the fevered imaginations of the US Dept of Transportation, VMT will always go up forever. https://www.ssti.us/2014/03/u-s-dot-highway-travel-demand-estimates-continue-to-overshoot-reality/
this chart makes me feel like taxes on gas are still too low…
Everything makes me feel like taxes on gas are too low.
It makes more sense to justify building more roads based on total VMT rather than VMT per capita, You’re more interested in the total demand for roads, not how much an average person uses it.