Marylanders have cut their per-person driving miles by 4.08 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from the Maryland PIRG Foundation.
"In Maryland, driving miles are down, just as they are in almost every state," said Joanna Guy, Program Associate for the Maryland Foundation. "It’s time for policy makers to wake up and realize the driving boom is over. We need to reconsider expensive highway expansions and focus on alternatives such as public transit and biking-which people increasingly use to get around."
The report, "Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving," <http://www.marylandpirg.org/reports/mdp/moving-road> is based on the most current available government data. Among its findings:
· In Maryland, people have reduced their driving miles by 4.1 percent per person since peak year of 2007.
· This decline in driving is a national trend. Forty-five other states have reduced per-person driving since the middle of the last decade.
· 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.
· Surrounding areas have also seen significant decreases in driving between 2005 and 2011. Virginia’s driving rate has dropped 7% during this time period, and driving rates in the District of Columbia have dropped 14.4%.
Michele Whelley, President and CEO of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance stated, "Whether we're talking about Millennials who would prefer to use transit as their mode of choice, or economically disadvantaged residents needing affordable access to the region's best employment opportunities, the Transportation Alliance advocates for investment in a multi-modal, integrated transportation system that includes robust mass transit to support and provide a catalyst for economic growth and vitality."
"Given these trends, we need to press the reset button on our transportation policy," said Guy. "Just because past transportation investments overwhelmingly went to highway construction, doesn’t mean that continues to be the right choice for Maryland’s future."