Via the always helpful Gordon Werner, I saw this CNN article about people ditching their cars en masse. Americans drove 9.6 billion fewer miles in May 2008 compared to May 2007, an amazing to me 32 miles per person fewer in that month. That’s more than a mile per person per day less than the year before. Incredible.
The fall in driving is almost entirely due to the rise in gas prices. Drivers are increasingly seeing driving as the lowest value-proposition way to get around. As the article points out, the rise transit use, carpooling, telecommutes, and walking and biking commutes is puting a squeeze on highway funds paid for by per-gallon gas taxes.
I believe locally this will play out to some major drama if ST2 does not pass next year. Already there has been pressure on local districts to raise their own funds to pay for expensive highway projects like the 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacements. If ST2 doesn’t pass, expect to see more “governance reform” type initiatives aimed at getting voters in our immediate area to pay for the highway projects. With less gas tax revenue, WSDOT will have a difficult time paying for these projects.
Interestingly the video on the left when I loaded the article was about traffic falling with commuter deaths, something very few people talk about: driving is one of the most deadly forms of transportation.