Rising gas prices provide a good start to 2030 Challenge

Doug Farr’s 2030 Challenge, issued at CNU XVI just three months ago, requires a “sustained 2.5% annual reduction in VMT per year” to meet the overall goal of slashing vehicle miles traveled in the United States by 50 percent by 2030. Events seemingly prove this goal is not only feasible, but well within reach.

This post at the Green Car Congress news blog notes cumulative travel for 2008 (through April) is down 2.1 percent over the same period in 2007. The U.S. Department of Transportation notes (seemingly with no small amount of trepidation) in this press release that Americans drove 1.8 percent fewer miles in April 2008 than April 2007.

Naturally, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters worries this means less gasoline tax revenue for highway maintenance and construction. Well, cry me a river. Certainly we should maintain most of what we already have, especially bridges and overpasses. But why spend more on new roads if fewer drivers are using them? (The notable exception being efforts at converting Highways to Boulevards.)

Rising gas prices took this sized bite out of VMT all by itself, moving millions from gas-guzzlers to higher mileage cars and hybrids, or from vehicles to public transit. Imagine just how big that bite could be if the nation’s transit systems are properly equipped to handle more riders (more lines, more and newer rolling stock, etc.), and properly built to link neighborhoods and nodes along well-defined corridors.


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