Peak car?

From David Metz's Limits to Travel blog: Peak Car?

I read with interest Phil Goodwin's Comment piece in Local Transport Today of 25 June in which he introduced the concept of 'peak car', and look forward to his promised further exposition. In the meantime, let me observe that as far as London is concerned, peak car use came and went at least fifteen years ago, when none of us noticed. Transport for London's most recent 'Travel in London' report records a steady decline in private transport's share of trips since at least 1993 (then 50%, 41% in 2008). Correspondingly, public transport's mode share has risen from 24% to 33%, while walking and cycling have been steady at about 25%.

I read the beginning of Goodwin's piece, but it is behind a registration wall.

It begins:


Rail, bus and tram use all peaked and then declined, so why do so many people assume that car use will either keep rising indefinitely or reach saturation and a 'steady state' condition?

I agree with the general point. But it must reach saturation before it drops. Whether it drops quickly after the peak, or slowly, depends on specific conditions. London suggests the drop may be faster rather than slower.

As gas prices drop and if the economy recovers, I expect we will see somewhat more travel by car in the US than the past couple of years, but the rate of growth from the 1990s and before is a thing of the past (unless travel by car gets much faster).

David Levinson

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on July 1, 2010 4:59 PM.

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