Transportation Trends and the American Future

Reihan Salam @ NRO summarizes 14 trends better than I did: Transportation Trends and the American Future :

“David Levinson, a transportation economist at the University of Minnesota, recently identified 14 trends that will shape the future of commuting, e.g.:

1. as state and local governments take on more responsibility for surface transportation, they will tend to make better decisions on capital and operating and maintenance costs, as they will be less skewed by the prospect of “free” or cheap federal financing;

2. because the U.S. surface transportation network is fairly mature, the emphasis will shift from new construction to “fix it first“;

3. the rise of electric vehicles will contribute to the collapse in motor fuel tax revenues, thus necessitating alternatives like VMT (vehicle-miled traveled) taxes or increases in retail sales taxes;

4. the spread of sensors will facilitate traffic management in a variety of ways, reducing the burdens of congestion;

5. the continuing “dematerialization” of the economy will tend to reduce the number of automobile trips;

6. delivery will increasingly substitute for fetching, i.e., firms like Fresh Direct and Amazon will continue to train U.S. consumers to rely on e-commerce rather than trips to the supermarket;

7. though car-sharing and bike-sharing won’t become extremely common outside of dense cities, their market share will likely grow — and the rise of autonomous vehicles may well lead to explosive growth in car-sharing;

8. as people rely more on virtual social networks and less on local social networks, local travel might decline as long-distance travel increases, i.e., I’ll make fewer trips around the neighborhood, but more trips to visit relatives 2-3 hours away by plane;

9. choice in education will tend to mean that more parents will ferry their children beyond their neighborhoods to send them to school, or to afterschool enrichment programs;

10. real-time information transmitted by smartphone will further encourage spur-of-the-moment planning and novelty-seeking (“let’s try this new place that gets X stars on OpenTable”);

11. big boxes will get bigger, and when families to make trips to physical outlets for groceries, they will be more inclined to buy in bulk and to buy less often;

12. as work weeks shrink, so will the number of vehicles on the road during rush hour — though off-peak travel will increase somewhat;

13. and most interestingly, the “end of driving,” i.e., the rise of autonomous vehicles, will lead to more mobility for children, the elderly, and the disabled and it will facilitate exurbanization, which Levinson touches on elsewhere: [previous post]”