Past US DOT traffic projections inaccurate, will they be accurate this time?

Figure 1. U.S. VMT (in trillions) as tracked by FHWA’s Travel Volume Trends (“Actual”) and as projected by U.S. DOT’s C&P reports (by year reports are dated). (via SSTI)

Figure 1. U.S. VMT (in trillions) as tracked by FHWA’s Travel Volume Trends (“Actual”) and as projected by U.S. DOT’s C&P reports (by year reports are dated).
(via SSTI)

The United States Department of Transportation files a report to Congress called the “Conditions and Performance Report to Congress.” In the report, they estimate the number of vehicle miles that are likely to be traveled around the Country. The most recent report estimated that in 2012, national vehicle miles traveled would reach 3.3 trillion. According to the State Smart Transportation Initiative, this estimate ended up being eleven percent too high.

According to SSTI, past estimates have faired little better. The chart above summarizes how past estimates have compared to the actual VMT total. You can read more about the data and the reports from the US DOT’s here. As SSTI notes, overestimates of this sort have numerous negative impacts that include over building projects and discrouaging low cost alternatives that would be better suited for the population.

The next C&P report is due soon. The question remains as to whether the estimates in it will be closer to reality than ones in the past.


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