A State-By-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving
TexPIRG Education Fund
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Sara E. Smith, TexPIRG Education Fund
New Report Shows Texans Are Driving Less
Texans are driving 12.9% fewer miles since peak year of 2000, Ahead of National Trend
AUSTIN – Texans have cut their per-person driving miles by over 10% percent since 2005, as the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from the TexPIRG Education Fund. Nationally, per-person driving miles has declined by 7.4%, while Texas has seen a much greater decline.
“It may come to as a surprise to many, but Texans are driving fewer and fewer miles on average, each year,” said Sara Smith, Program Director for the TexPIRG Education Fund. “It’s time for policy makers to wake up and realize the driving boom is over. The same old policies and investments are not going to work for the changing needs and expectations of the average Texan. We need to reconsider expensive highway expansions and focus on alternatives such as public transit, biking, or ride sharing —which people increasingly use to get around.”
“Austin is a hugely popular city with over 100 new people moving here every day. Given this, we won’t maintain our collective quality of life if our population continues driving their cars, often solo, everywhere in town,” said Joseph Kopser, founder and CEO of Austin-based RideScout, a free mobile app designed to provide real time transportation information. “We must move to a more sustainable model and reports like the one released today by the TexPIRG Education Fund reinforce this message,” he continued, “It’s clear that transportation policy should reflect the changing needs and expectations of Texans”
On a local level, the City of Austin, and several transit authorities have already started developing plans to implement high-capacity transit solutions for Central Texas. “Project Connect is an important high capacity, public transportation system and significant community initiative that area leaders have been working on for about two years to bring to fruition. As our city and region grows, all forms of transportation like roads, bike and pedestrian paths, and rail will continue to be important, so it’s important to think about alternate forms of transportation which will be available for all residents, including those who cannot or choose not to drive,” said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.
Robin Stallings, BikeTexas executive director, said, “BikeTexas has noted a renaissance in bike riding in all the major cities in Texas in the last decade. The millennial generation seems to be leading the way in this shift to making trips by bike.”
“The report reveals that there is an overall decline in driving across the country, and this therefore justifies the work we are doing to provide transportation choices in San Antonio,” said Julia Murphy, a representative of San Antonio’s Office of Sustainability. “In addition to these choices enhancing quality-of-life and keeping the city economically competitive, it’s also a matter of equity: people who don’t or can’t drive, for whatever reason, should be able to travel affordably and conveniently to conduct their daily business.”
“The study is another indication of what North Texans have been demonstrating for some time; they’d rather ride transit than drive when given a viable option like DART,” said Morgan Lyons, director of media relations for DART. “That’s why we have been aggressively expanding our network and continue seeking innovative ways to provide transit choices to more people in our region.”
Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez added, “I applaud the research in this study by the Texas Public Interest Research Group, which reveals that Texans are following the national trend towards reduced driving. Thanks to efforts that have strengthened multimodal transportation like those made here in Austin, we are providing healthier, reliable transportation alternatives for our residents while taking the steps toward a better future for our environment. I’m encouraged by this study and will continue to advocate for better cycling, public transportation, and pedestrian services here in Austin to reduce traffic and pollution in our state, and hope that other cities across Texas will do the same.”
The report, “Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving,” ,http://texpirg.org/reports/txp/moving-road, is based on the most current available government data. Among its findings:
– In Texas, people have reduced their driving miles by 12.9% percent per person since 2000, the peak year for vehicle miles traveled per person.
– After World War II, the nation’s driving miles increased steadily almost every year, creating a “driving boom.” Driven by the growth of the suburbs, low gas prices, and increased auto ownership, the boom lasted 60 years. Now, in stark contrast, the average number of miles driven by Americans is in its eight consecutive year of decline, led by declines among Millennials.
– The states with the biggest reductions in driving miles generally were not the states hit hardest by the economic downturn. The majority—almost three-quarters—of the states where per-person driving miles declined more quickly than the national average actually saw smaller increases in unemployment compared to the rest of the nation.
– Texas has the lowest number of vehicle miles traveled per capita of any South Gulf state.
Download the report, “Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis on the National Decline in Driving.” http://texpirg.org/reports/txp/moving-road
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TexPIRG Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation. www.texpirgedfund.org.