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Transportation Air Quality Facts and Figures January 2006

Travel Trends

Travel, Economic Growth and Population

1970-2002

Travel, Economic Growth and Population 1970-2002. Click image for source data.

Since 1970, growth in VMT has far outpaced population growth. This tracks closely with economic trends as seen with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau. Time Series of National Population Estimates: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2001.
December 2004, Table 1. Web site: http://www.census.gov/popest/data/historical/2000s/index.html, 28 June 2005.
Bureau of Economic Analysis. Survey of Current Business. Volume 83 No. 4. April 2003;
Web site: http://www.bea.gov/scb/toc/0403cont.htm, 28 June 2005.
Federal Highway Administration. Highway Statistics Summary to 1995. July 1997.
Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/summary95/index.html 29 June 2005.
Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics 2002. October 2003.
Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohim/hs02/pdf/vm2.pdf 28 June 2005.

Surface Passenger Miles by Mode

1980-2001

Surface Passenger Miles by Mode 1980-2001. Click image for source data.

Americans are traveling more than ever. Between 1980 and 2001, the number of surface passenger miles traveled increased by 1.5 trillion. Americans use cars more than any other form of ground transportation - 98 percent of all passenger miles were traveled in personal vehicles (automobiles, motorcycles, and light-duty trucks) in 2001. Light-duty trucks, such as minivans, pickups, and sport-utility vehicles, make up an increasing portion of miles traveled. Passenger travel on two-axle, four-tire trucks increased by 970 billion miles, or 186 percent between 1980 and 2001, while travel by automobile and motorcycles increased by only 28 percent or 561 billion miles. From 1980 to 2001, transit and intercity bus and rail use increased by 10 billion passenger miles or 23 percent.

Source: Federal Highway Administration. National Transportation Statistics 2002. April 2003.
Table 1-34.
Note: Intercity bus figures were not included in transit prior to 1985.

Commuter Mode Split

Commuter Mode Split. Click image for source data.

Americans commute to work in single-occupant vehicles more than by any other method. In 1990, 73 percent of the work force drove to work alone. That percentage increased to 76 percent in 2000. The share of people commuting by walking and carpooling declined, while the percentage of people taking transit or working at home remained constant.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau. 1990 Census of Population, Table P049: Labor Force Status and Employment Characteristics: 990. June 1992.
U.S. Census Bureau. 2000 Census Supplemental Survey Summary. Table P047: Means of Transportation to Work for Workers 16 years and over. August 2001.

Vehicle Trips by Purpose

Vehicle Trips by Purpose. Click image for source data.

Commuting has declined slightly as a share of all vehicle trips. In 1990, 27 percent of all vehicle trips were made traveling to or from work. By 2001, only 22 percent of all trips were made for traveling to or from work.

Source: Federal Highway Administration. 1990 National Personal Transportation Survey, Databook
Vol II, Table 5-40. Publication No. FHWA-PL-94-010B. November 2003. Web site: http://nhts.ornl.gov/1990/doc/behavior.pdf 29 June 2005.
Federal Highway Administration. 2001 National Household Travel Survey. Data tabulation from Web site: http://nhts.ornl.gov/publications.shtml.

Growth in Freight Movement

Growth in Freight Movement. Click image for source data.

The amount of freight moved by truck and rail grew by more than 19 percent and 17 percent respectively between 1993 and 2002.

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics. National Transportation Statistics, Table 1-52 Freight Activity in the United States: 1993, 1997, and 2002, March 2004.
Web site: http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/2004/index.html, 28 June 2005.

U.S. Ton Miles of Freight by Mode 2002

U.S. Ton Miles of Freight by Mode 2002.

In 2002, trucks carried the largest percentage of the domestic commercial ton-miles, followed by rail, pipeline, water, multimodal, and air cargo.

This growth in freight movement and accompanying increase in emissions has focused attention on related-emissions controls and clean fuel.

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Freight Shipments in America. Figure 3. Modal Shares of U.S. Commercial Freight Shipments by Value, Weight, and Ton-Miles: 1993, 1997, and 2002. April 2004. Web site: http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/freight_shipments_in_america/html/figure_03.html, 28 June 2005.

Updated: 05/03/2013
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