Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Transit gains while peak-hour congestion drops: National news

Although high gas prices until late last year and the increasingly painful economic crisis curtailed the nation's vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and boosted transit ridership, neither the steep gas-price plunge since the fall nor disastrous job losses have stopped transit gains or diminished the urgent need for investment in transit upgrades and expansion, a long-overlooked policy requisite once more documented by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in its newest report, which shows that Americans "took 1.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2008" -- 4 percent more than in 2007 and the most in the 52 years.
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Last year, peak hour congestion on major urban roads in 99 of the 100 largest metro areas, except Baton Rouge, Louisiana, decreased 30 percent -- being 15 to 60 percent lower each hour of every day depending on day and time -- not because of road expansion, but because of some 3 percent fewer vehicle miles traveled (VMT), an unprecedented decline forced by higher gas prices and economic hardships, and a kind of incidental "transportation demand management," writes CEOs for Cities chief economic analyst Joe Cortright in an Infrastructurist guest commentary on Kirkland, Washington-based INRIX' second annual National Traffic Scorecard, built on many billions of real-time travel data sent from nearly a million GPS-equipped cars and trucks.
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