Travel on all roads and streets in the US dropped to an estimated 245.9 billion miles for April 2008—a decrease of 1.8% compared with April 2007, according to the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) monthly Traffic Volume Trends report for April. (Earlier post.)
|Urban and rural vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Click to enlarge.
Cumulative travel for 2008 is down by 2.1% at 934.8 billion vehicle miles of travel, compared to the same period in 2007.
The decrease in driving and increase in transit ridership highlights the need to find a more sustainable and effective way to fund highway construction and maintenance, said US Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters.
We’re burning less fuel as energy costs change driving patterns, steer people toward more fuel efficient vehicles and encourage more to use transit. Which is exactly why we need a more effective funding source than the gas tax.—Secretary Peters
|VMT moving 12-month total on all roads. Click to enlarge.
Federal fuel taxes—18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel—fund the federal Highway Trust Fund.
The Secretary noted that data show mid-size SUV sales were down last month 38% over May of last year; car sales, which had accounted for less than half of the industry volume in 2007, rose to 57% in May. She said past trends have shown Americans will continue to drive despite high gas prices, but will drive more fuel efficient vehicles consuming less fuel. Roads will still be congested, she said, while gas tax revenues decline even further.
As positive as any move toward greater fuel efficiency is, we need to make sure we have the kind of sustainable funding measures in place to support needed highway and transit improvements well into the future.—Acting Federal Highway Administrator Jim Ray