White Paper on the Future of Passenger Travel Demand in the United States

This white paper will summarize recent research findings pertaining to future passenger travel demand in the United States. Travel demand has grown steadily in the United States in the past few decades, mirroring the positive trends in economic growth and an increase in the use of personal vehicles for commuting trips and other trip purposes. Recent research, however, has highlighted significant modifications in these trends, suggesting a vehicle miles of travel (VMT) "VMT Peak" in the first years of the 21st century. Several possible explanations have been proposed for the recent car-use peak, including the impact of the recent economic recession and the increases in fuel prices (although most researchers note that the VMT trends began flattening several years before the recession), as well as the impact of high traffic congestion in large metropolitan areas, the possible substitution of physical trips with electronic (virtual) alternatives to travel, the possible substitution of ground transportation with airline travel, changes in the urban form of cities and metropolitan areas, more restrictive (and expensive) driver's licensing regulations, employment trends (such as the achievement of equilibrium in the share of women in the workforce), trends in household formation and composition (such as delaying or forgoing marriage and childbearing), and shifting personal preferences and lifestyles of the U.S. population (e.g. toward more urban living, and/or toward a greater concern for the environmental consequences of one's actions). The white paper will summarize the findings from the recent studies in this field, and present a research agenda designed to clarify the reasons for the current VMT peak and to assess the implications for future passenger travel demand in the United States.


  • English


Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01554069
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Center for Sustainable Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC29
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Feb 25 2015 1:01AM