Vol. 1 No. 1
May 22, 1996


Federal Highway Administration
Office of Highway Information Management

Latest VMT Growth Estimates

Now that we have preliminary vehicle miles of travel (VMT) growth estimates for 1995--l.8% above 1994--it's worth looking at VMT trends for the early 1990s, as compared to previous decades. The VMT growth for the previous two decades, 1970 - 1990, averaged 3.3% compounded annually. However, for the first 5 years of the 1990s, growth has only been 2.3% per year.

FHWA analyses have suggested for some time that there may be emerging saturation in several key factors influencing travel demand:

Do all of these factors portend a fundamental shift toward lower national travel growth rates? Are the low VMT growth rates of the early 1990s proof of this shift? It's probably too early to say absolutely yes, but certainly worth watching closely. The lower growth rates are consistent with current Highway Performance Monitoring System forecasts provided by the States which show nationally 2.37% compound annual growth over the next 20 years. The recent FHWA Conditions and Performance Report to Congress assumed 2.15 % annual growth for the next 20 years, reflecting adjustments based on MPO plans in the largest urbanized areas. The 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) data will be coming available this summer and will provide an early opportunity to further review changes in the household demand factors and reassessment of these trends. For additional information on NPTS, contact Susan Liss at (202) 366-0160.

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