More people, less driving. Yes, really.
More people, but less driving?
It may seen counter-intuitive, but it's what the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government's Transportation Planning Board has concluded in a new report: though the region's population jumped 7.3 percent from 2005 to 2011, the number of miles driven per day held steady at 110 million.
All told, that means that daily driving per person in D.C., Maryland and Virginia fell over that period, dropping from 22.9 miles in per day in 2005 to 21.5 miles in 2011—a 6.1 percent decrease.
Even more surprisingly, though, the driving decreases were more pronounced in the outer suburbs—Frederick, Charles, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties—where the daily average fell 10.6 percent. By comparison, the decreases only reach 5.6 percent in Arlington, Alexandria, and D.C., and 4.5 percent in Fairfax, Montgomery, and Prince George's Counties.
So, what accounts for the trend? Says the board:
This suggests that other forces are at play, like heightened sensitivity to fuel price volatility, more widespread use of e-commerce and electronic communications, and increased telecommuting. Shifting preferences toward less travel by car, especially among younger generations, might also be contributing to the change.
Additionally, a recent report from the board found that many workers in the region are living in the same place where they work, meaning that fewer people are driving long distances to get to and from work.