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Old 04-15-2015, 09:59 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by impala096 View Post
Who cares that total VMT is at a record high in America... that's no longer important.
I don't care. I think per capita is a more reasonable measure; otherwise you're just tracking population.
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Old 04-15-2015, 10:14 AM
 
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Population growth in America is roughly 0.75% YOY. What is the YOY growth in VMT?
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by impala096 View Post
Population growth in America is roughly 0.75% YOY. What is the YOY growth in VMT?
I'll answer my own question...

2014-01-01 VMT = 2,985,996
2015-01-01 VMT = 3,049,203

YOY VMT growth in America = 3,049,203 / 2,985,996 = 2.12%
YOY population growth in America = 0.75%

The VMT in America is increasing faster than the population growth over the past year.
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Old 04-15-2015, 05:05 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
I don't care. I think per capita is a more reasonable measure; otherwise you're just tracking population.
Per capita also is on the increase though. I really don't know whether or not it will ever get as high as it was in 2004. I'd hedge towards not but that's a big speculation on my part.
Thing with the "Peak Car" is that it's basically "Peak Oil." The theory is that "Peak Car" was hit and then it would enter a terminal decline thereafter. I wouldn't call a one-year increase in per capita VMT alone disproves theory that we're now in a terminal decline. That could just be noise. I don't personally believe we are but that's not really here or there. Now, if we go three years with increasing per capita VMT, I'd say that pretty much proves that I'm right and Peak Car was bunk.
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Old 04-15-2015, 06:34 PM
 
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As long as we have some semblance of an economy cars aren't going anywhere. The fuel source might shift and VMT per capita will probably go down because it's getting more expensive but I don't see any sudden and drastic drop in VMT happening whether per capita or total.
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Old 04-16-2015, 03:44 PM
 
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At some point we have to top out, even if population doesn't. We run against the upper bound of system capacity and the upper bound of our ability to pay to add more capacity in built-out metros.

And total VMT is a blunt instrument; it says nothing about regional, cultural, or socio-economic variations.
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Old 04-17-2015, 09:35 AM
 
Location: Laurentia
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Capacity in the freeway system per capita has drastically shrunk over time, and the roads in every American city of significant size are still choked with traffic, so there obviously is still a huge shortage of capacity relative to the current and desired number of trips and miles which will continue unless VMT drop by something like half. The recent pleateauing of VMT should have been viewed as an opportunity to catch up on delivering infrastructure sufficient to eliminate traffic jams as a feature of day-to-day life, which would be an enormous boon to the economy and human welfare; instead all it's viewed as is an excuse to choke the road system still further, as if the current level of congestion must be maintained and the type of people that inhabit this board want to punish Americans by clogging their roadways. Also, I don't see how per-capita would be relevant to road capacity, since there are more cars for a given space of road unless it's expanded regardless of the cause. Relevant to the "peak car" theory, yes, but not to whether highways should be expanded or not.

I think the "peak car" (per capita) phenomenon is real but also just a side effect of the general impoverishing of the American population we've seen over the past 15 years, especially when priced in gasoline; rich people travel more miles than poor people, so we should expect a poorer population to drive less and a richer population to drive more. Since the population is getting poorer less miles traveled comes as no surprise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
We run against the upper bound of system capacity and the upper bound of our ability to pay to add more capacity in built-out metros.
Ability to pay? The American government has enough resources at its command to build any road (or rail) infrastructure imaginable, namely more than $3 trillion per annum, and of that you could even easily get $250 billion from the military budget without a drastic change to everyday people, but the politicians and bureaucrats have chosen to allocate all that money elsewhere because they have priorities other than building infrastructure sufficient to meet Americans' desires and eliminate the drains on quality of life congestion and poor transportation create. The shortage of funding we face today and in the future is by choice, not by necessity, a self-inflicted wound to the very heart of American life. Even if you're concerned about "fairness" when it comes to "user fees" (which in my view we shouldn't be since it's a tax, not a utility-style bill, and until that standard of "user fees only" is applied to every government program it's unfair to apply it to just roads), you could reallocate $500 billion, cut other taxes accordingly, and then raise the gas tax accordingly, thus paying for it out of gas tax without increasing the overall tax burden.

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Originally Posted by nei View Post
Why should driving per capita keep going up? It has to eventually reach a peak.
Travel time per capita obviously must reach a peak but miles traveled is far more flexible since it depends in large part on speed; an extreme example is the miles traveled in a 4 hour drive and a 4 hour flight. The advance of technology tends to increase speed on highways over time, e.g. a 2015 car being as capable at 70 mph as a 1995 car was at 60 mph, thus if people drive for the same amount of time the miles driven will steadily increase.

There is also the matter of whether the travel time in 2004 was the extent people wanted to travel; logically, if people's time they would ideally want to spend traveling was more than they actually spent traveling 2004, then we would expect travel time to increase as much as people's ability permitted. The experience of wealthier people and the stated desires of most people when asked would seem to indicate that when given the chance people would travel for quite a bit more time than they do currently. Almost all of that additional time would be recreational or sentimental in purpose rather than for commuting, of course. Most people would also like to be able to drive faster on highways than they do now, so the "ideal VMT" of the population is much higher than today's VMT, because both travel time and speed would ideally be greater.

Of course if you really want to go out there probably most of the population would work from home or stop working if they became independently wealthy, thus drastically cutting down on commuting, so that would subtract from VMT. On the other hand a lot of that time would be used by people for trips they wouldn't make if they were commuters and trips between homes, so that would offset the decrease . Nevertheless even in the "everyone is rich" world I believe there would be far more distance traveled than there is now, judging by the behavior of those who are currently wealthy.
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Old 04-17-2015, 10:46 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricius Maximus View Post
Capacity in the freeway system per capita has drastically shrunk over time, and the roads in every American city of significant size are still choked with traffic, so there obviously is still a huge shortage of capacity relative to the current and desired number of trips and miles which will continue unless VMT drop by something like half.
Per capita doesn't make economic sense as a useful measure. It doesn't adequately represent how valuable it is to society or the individual. It only represents if current construction has kept pace with the bar set by past construction.

Many of those "desired number of trips and miles" are demanded only when the price is $0 for use of that strip of roadway. When the roadway is tolled, many of those trips disappear.

Meanwhile, we see induced demand when we add capacity without tolls. But, again, as per my previous point, this demand only exists because the freeways are untolled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricius Maximus View Post
Ability to pay?
First of all, it is not in the Federal government's best interest to spend Federal tax receipts on local infrastructure improvements, as that heavily distorts the market in favor of whatever the Federal money is earmarked for.

And as the reactionary wing of the Republican party has gained traction, Federal spending has slowed. So, when I say ability to pay, I mean state, county, and local ability to fund continued roadway expansions in built-out (ie, expensive) areas in absence of Federal funds. Many of our current or recent roadway expansions simply would be unaffordable if left only to cities and counties.

But that's okay, because many of these improvements have limited or no statistically discernible impact on state or national economics, so the bulk or entirety of the burden should be borne by those whom receive most or all of the benefit, cities and counties. Yes, interstates are valuable, and Federal money should be spent appropriate to the national benefit; but, even in the case of interstates, most of the benefit is to state and local economies.
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Old 04-27-2015, 10:04 PM
 
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February data has been released. There has been 12 straight months of increasing VMT in America.
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Old 04-27-2015, 10:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by impala096 View Post
February data has been released. There has been 12 straight months of increasing VMT in America.
Roughly corresponding with the lowest gas prices in 8+ years
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