From NY Times
Driving Shifts Into Reverse
The Dean of Transportation Economics is quoted:
But the latest recession has caused some big changes. High unemployment meant that fewer people were driving to work, and a slump in consumer spending meant that less freight needed to be moved around the country. As gas prices soared in 2005, the number of miles driven – including commercial and personal – began to fall, and continued to drop after 2008 even as gasoline became cheaper.
“People were surprised by the very rapid rise in gas prices, and they changed their driving behavior,” said Kenneth A. Small, a transportation economist at the University of California, Irvine. “But my suspicion is that it is temporary. As soon as unemployment gets back to pre-recession levels, we will see Americans doing a lot more driving again.
My own prediction is we have reached saturation, and we are approximately maxed out at annual per capita mileage until technology changes. We should expect about 10K per capita for a while, but should not see the long term increases we saw from the dawn of time until the present unless we get a new faster mode. This is because of underlying travel time budgets.