Albuquerque Driving Less, Using Transit and Alternatives More

Albuquerque shows 3rd largest increase in passenger-miles traveled per capita on public transportation thanks to rail service

NMPIRG Education Fund

Albuquerque – A first-of-its-kind report by NMPIRG Education Fund shows reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in New Mexico’s urbanized areas including the Albuquerque and greater use of public transit and biking.

“There is a shift away from driving in our cities here in New Mexico and across the country,” said Sean Foran, Program Director for the NMPIRG Education Fund. “Policy makers need to wake up and realize the driving boom is over. Based on these national and local trends, we should be investing in public transit and biking for the future.”

The report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,” is based on the most current available government data. It is the first ever national study to compare transportation trends for America’s largest cities. Among its findings

  • The proportion of workers commuting by private vehicle—either alone or in a carpool—declined in 99 out of 100 of America’s most populous urbanized areas between 2000 and the 2007-2011.
  • In the Albuquerque urbanized area, there was a 5.9 percent decrease in vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) per capita from 2006 to 2011
  • The number of passenger miles travelled on transit per capita increased 288% percent in Albuquerque between 2005 and 2010. The increase was the 3rd largest percent increase among America’s 100 largest cities. This increase was in large part due to the opening of the commuter rail service between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
  • The proportion of commuters travelling by bicycle grew in Albuquerque, as it did in 85 of the most populous 100 urbanized areas between 2000 and 2010.
  • The proportion of households without a car increased 1.2 percent in the Albuquerque urbanized area between 2006 and 2011. This proportion fell in 84 of the largest 100 urbanized areas. Likewise, the proportion of households with two or more vehicles fell in 86 out the 100 most populous urbanized areas during this period, including Albuquerque, where it fell 3.4 percent.

The study found that cities with the largest decreases in driving were not those hit hardest by the recession. On the contrary, the economies of urbanized areas with the largest declines in driving appear to have been less affected by the recession according to unemployment, income and poverty indicators.

“It’s time for politicians in Santa Fe to support transportation initiatives that reflects these travel trends,” said Foran. “Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars continuing to enlarge our grandfather’s Interstate Highway System, we should be investing in the kinds of transportation options that the public increasingly favors.”

Across the nation, young people have shown the steepest reductions in driving. Americans 16 to 34 years of age reduced their average driving miles by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.

Download the report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities” here.

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