Keeping the Car Parked
A few months ago we reported that "US citizens drove 9.6 billion fewer miles in May 2008 than in May 2007, or 3.7% less." The trend seems to be holding as Reuters reported a 5% drop in June and a 3.6% year-over-year decline in miles traveled on all roads in July.
That makes it the 9th straight month of decline for miles traveled in the US, something that hasn't happened in decades, and petroleum demand hasn't been that low since 1982. Unsurprisingly, high gas prices and a weakening economy get the blame.
What This Means
"The decline means Americans are consuming less fuel and emitting less CO2 (tailpipe emissions), which is a positive development," Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said in an interview with Reuters. "But it is a challenge to how we fund transportation today."
Indeed, a lot of road and rail projects are financed by taxes on gasolines, so if consumption drops, there's less money to go around. On the upside, the use of public transit is up significantly and sales of fuel efficient cars are higher than they've been in decades. Probably not enough to bring down CO2 emissions significantly, but it's better than nothing.
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