Vol. 1 No. 1
May 22, 1996
HIGHWAY INFORMATION UPDATE
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.
- Vehicle ownership rates may be reaching some saturation with ownership having reached one personal use vehicle per household driver in 1990.
- Driver licensing rates are approaching saturation; rates for men are at 93 % and women, 83 %, of the driving age population. Women closed the gap dramatically in the last two decades and are very near men's licensing rates in the high driving age groups.
- Rapid entry of women into the work force is also subsiding with women having reached about 46% of the work force by 1990.
- The age structure of the population has also had a dramatic effect on travel with the baby boom generation entering the high driving age groups during the late 1970s and the 1980s. However, this effect has already happened and new entrants to the high driving age groups are occurring more slowly.
- Immigration has been a significant countervailing trend, contributing 40% of the population growth in the last decade, but recent legislation places constraints on future immigration growth.
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