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FHWA Home / Policy & Governmental Affairs / 2002 Conditions and Performance

Conditions and Performance

Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2002 Conditions and Performance Report

Chapter 19: Air Quality

Chapter 2 Table of Contents

  • Summary
  • Highway and Bridge System and Use Characteristics
    • System Characteristics
      • Highways and Bridges by Ownership
      • Highways and Bridges by Purpose
      • Intelligent Transportation System Characteristics
    • Use Characteristics
  • U.S. Transit System Characteristics
    • Transit Services and Jurisdiction
    • Urban Transit Systems
    • Coverage of Transit Systems (Urban Route Miles)
    • System Capacity
    • Passenger Travel
    • Vehicle Occupancy
    • Rural Transit Systems
    • Transit System Characteristics for Americans with Disabilities and the Elderly


Exhibit 2-1 summarizes the key findings in this chapter, comparing system and use characteristics data in this report with the 1997 values shown in the 1999 Conditions and Performance Report. Some of the 1997 values have subsequently been revised, and this is reflected in the second column as appropriate. The third column contains comparable values based on 2000 data.

Exhibit 2-1

Comparison of System and Use Characteristics with Those in the 1999 C&P Report

  1997 DATA 2000 DATA
Percentage of Total Highway Miles Owned by Local Governments
Percentage of Total Highway Miles Owned by State Governments
Percentage of Total Highway Miles Owned by the Federal Government
Local Transit Operators in Urbanized Areas
Rural and Specialized Transit Service Providers
Total Rural Highway Miles (population under 5,000)
3.11 million
3.09 million
Total Urban Highway Miles (population equal or above 5,000)
0.84 million
0.86 million
Total Highway Miles
3.95 million
3.95 million
Transit Route Miles (Rail)
Transit Route Miles (Non-Rail)
Total Transit Route Miles
Total Rural Highway Lane Miles (population under 5,000)
6.37 million
6.32 million
Total Urban Highway Lane Miles (population equal or above 5,000)
1.89 million
1.93 million
Total Highway Lane Miles
8.26 million
8.27 million
8.25 million
Urban Transit Capacity-Equivalent Miles (Rail)
1.72 billion
1.87 billion
Urban Transit Capacity-Equivalent Miles (Non-Rail)
1.72 billion
1.90 billion
Urban Transit Capacity-Equivalent Miles (Total)
3.44 billion
3.77 billion
Vehicle Miles Traveled on Rural Highways (population under 5,000)
1.00 trillion
1.09 trillion
Vehicle Miles Traveled on Urban Highways (population equal or above 5,000)
1.56 trillion
1.67 trillion
Vehicle Miles Traveled on All Highways
2.56 trillion
2.68 trillion
Transit Passenger Miles (Rail)
21.14 billion
24.60 billion
Transit Passenger Miles (Non-Rail)
19.04 billion
20.50 billion
Transit Passenger Miles (Total)
40.18 billion
45.10 billion

There were over 3.95 million miles of public roads in the United States in 2000, of which 3.09 million miles were in rural communities (rural communities are defined as those places with fewer than 5,000 residents, and urban communities are defined as those areas with 5,000 or more people). Local governments controlled over 77 percent of total highway miles in 2000; States controlled about 20 percent; and the Federal Government owned about 3 percent. Hence, the Nation’s highway system is overwhelmingly rural and local.

In 2000, there were 172,524 transit route miles, of which 163,303 miles were non-rail. Both rail and non-rail systems have experienced growth over the past decade. The number of public transit operators in urbanized areas increased by 8.6 percent from 565 in 1997 to 614 in 2000. The number of rural and specialized transit providers decreased by 0.7 percent from 4,920 to 4,888 over this same period.

Total highway lane-mileage was 8.25 million in 2000. Lane-miles have grown at an average annual rate of about 0.2 percent since 1993, mostly in urban areas. Urban lane-mileage grew to more than 1.9 million by 2000, while rural lane-mileage shrank to 6.3 million. This shift is largely due to growth in metropolitan areas and the reclassification of some rural routes as urban.

Transit capacity-equivalent miles report the distance traveled by a transit vehicles in passenger-carrying revenue service as measured by vehicle revenue miles adjusted for the carrying capacity of each type of transit vehicle. Total urban transit-capacity equivalent mileage increased from 3.44 billion miles in 1997 to 3.77 billion miles in 2000, including 1.87 billion for rail and 1.90 billion for non-rail, following a 1990s trend of an almost even split between rail and non-rail modes.

The number of vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) between 1993 and 2000 grew by an average of 2.7 percent annually. About 1.1 trillion vehicle-miles traveled were on rural highways, and about 1.7 trillion were on urban roads. Traffic has increased in metropolitan areas, but it has also grown in rural communities where there is increased truck traffic and visits by tourists to recreation centers.

Urban transit passenger miles grew at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent between 1991 and 2000. Passenger mile growth on rail modes was considerably faster than on non-rail, increasing from 18.5 billion passenger miles in 1991 to 24.6 billion passenger miles in 2000, a 3.2 percent average annual increase. Non-rail passenger miles climbed from 18.9 billion in 1991 to 20.5 billion in 2000, an average annual increase of 0.9 percent.

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