Today the Federal Highway Administration released their monthly traffic volume trends report for May 2008, and the data show a trend that is significant, although not surprising.
- Nationally, travel on all roads declined by 3.7% for May 2008 as compared with May 2007. This marks the 7th consecutive monthly decline in this metric.
- On a moving 12-month basis, total traffic volume fell by 10 billion miles, to 2.966 trillion miles. This is the lowest level in 3.5 years – since January of 2005 – and this metric has also declined in each of the last 7 months (the chart shows traffic volume from 1983 to 2008 – click to enlarge).
There has never been a trend remotely like this. The current, ongoing 7-month decline represents the most significant adjustment to driving behavior in the last 25 years, if not longer. And these data are only through May…gas prices continued to rise through June and into July…the trend will continue.
Local Addendum: Traffic volume in the Northeast declined by 4.2% for May 2008 as compared with May 2007. Meanwhile, the MBTA announced that average weekday ridership in May was about 5.3% higher than during May 2007. It was the fifth monthly increase in a row. And…average weekday bus ridership crested over 400,000, which is only the fifth time in the past 101 months it had reached that level.
Decreasing traffic volume and increasing public transportation ridership are two sides of the same coin.