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Trends in Regional Traffic Volumes - Signs of Change, by East West Gateway

Trends in Regional Traffic Volumes - Signs of Change, by East West Gateway

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Published by nextSTL.com
Trends in Regional Traffic Volumes - Signs of Change, by East West Gateway
Trends in Regional Traffic Volumes - Signs of Change, by East West Gateway

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Published by: nextSTL.com on Apr 15, 2014
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E
AST-
W
EST
G
ATEWAY
Council of Governments
Creating Solutions Across Jurisdictional Boundaries
Signs of Change?
February 2008
Trends in RegionalTraffic Volumes
 
Trends in Regional Traffic Volumes: Signs of Change?Introduction
The total number of miles driven by all vehicles isreferred to as Vehicle Miles Traveled, or VMT. The totaltraffic volume in a region is an important factor to con-sider in deciding when, where and whether new roads,or additional lanes on existing roads, need to be built.Moreover, since gasoline taxes constitute the principalsource of funding for transportation projects, changes inVMT can significantly affect transportation financing.For these reasons, it is important for transportationplanners to be able to forecast VMT trends.In the past few decades, there has been a dramaticincrease in VMT, both in the US and in the St. Louis area.However, recent evidence indicates that VMT is no longergrowing, or at least that it is no longer growing asrapidly. To be sure, there are local “hot spots” wheretraffic volume does continue to increase. However, thesehigh volume areas are not representative of the entireregion.Social and demographic factors that affect VMT includethe age of the population, household size, labor forceparticipation and car ownership. This report summarizesrecent trends in VMT growth and in the factors thataffect VMT growth.
 
VMTTrends
Table 1 below shows that nationally, the rate of growthin VMT has fallen sharply since 2000. From 1982 to2000, the average annual rate of growth in the US was3.2 percent. Since 2000, the growth rate has been cut inhalf. In 2006, the growth rate was a miniscule 0.6per-cent. Chart 1 shows that there have been previousperiods in which growth rates temporarily leveled off,most notably during the economic slump of 1990-91.As discussed below however, there are reasons to believethat the current leveling off in VMT growth may be along-term trend. Chart 2 shows a similar trend for urbantraffic nationally.Table 2 shows that a similar pattern has been observedin the St. Louis area, with a modest decrease in VMTseen in 2005. The average annual rate of growth in VMTwas 3.8 percent for the period 1982-1998. From 1998 to2005, the average rate of growth was just 0.6 percent.Chart 3 presents these figures graphically.Data for the year 2007 have not yet been processed.However, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)reported that as of October, “cumulative travel for 2007changed by 0.0 percent” nationwide, compared to thefirst ten months of 2006.
Table 1: Travel in Annual Vehicle Miles (millions), All Roads and Streets, US
 AnnualPercentAnnual Percent  YearVMTGrowth RateYearVMTGrowth Rate
19821,549,46619831,617,3404.419952,400,5553.819841,678,3633.819962,433,9871.419851,739,3503.619972,517,4743.419861,800,9333.519982,581,0512.519871,880,8624.419992,638,8952.219881,966,5724.620002,727,7923.419892,062,8934.920012,762,7701.319902,130,6343.320022,823,2922.219912,145,0740.720032,858,8831.319922,204,8582.820042,933,2432.619932,269,8352.920052,979,1211.619942,313,5431.920062,997,6850.6
 Source: FHWA, Traffic Volume Trends, May 2007 
Table 2: Average Annual Daily Vehicle Miles Traveled, EWGRegion
 YearMilesYearMiles197027,346,988198850,425,590197128,159,798198953,014,608197229,659,260199054,751,026197331,149,775199155,411,345197429,472,602199257,281,606197531,325,308199359,271,185197633,166,947199461,934,978197734,599,809199563,759,719197835,363,651199664,959,535197936,438,300199766,447,197198035,907,078199867,288,592198136,388,830199967,335,905198237,211,706200067,501,182198340,269,224200168,084,456198442,693,821200269,318,653198543,491,733200370,072,589198646,263,500200470,726,927198747,860,288200569,983,917
 Source: East-West Gateway Council of Governments

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