Monday, December 2, 2013

Turning the Corner on Car Use in the USA, Australia, Canada, Europe and Asia

Decoupling Urban Car Use and Metropolitan GDP Growth(30 page pdf, Jeff Kenworthy, pg. 7-21, World Transport Policy & Practice, Oct. 30, 2013) Also discussed here: World Transport Policy & Practice – Vol. 19, No. 4 (World Streets, Oct. 30, 2013)

Today we review data on car use per $GDP from 42 cities that indicate that car use is declining, mainly due to improvements in public transit in terms of economic value and speed compared to private vehicles, and to the growth of social media, urban intensification and the knowledge economy. Traffic congestion is the main barrier to speed for either cars or bus transit and when steps, such as road pricing, are taken to reduce congestion, the advantage of bus transit is greater. The greatest decline in car use occurred in European cities where a combination of Light Rail Transit and urban congestion charging seem to be progressing the most.


peak car use  

Key Quotes:  

The car vehicle kilometres travelled per unit of GDP in thirty-nine out of the forty-two cities studied has reduced by an average of 24%”

“Decoupling of urban mobility from GDP can occur in the context of still rising car use or total mobility. However, in twelve out of the forty-two cities the actual car use per capita also declined by an average of over 6%.”

“New data showing an improvement in the relative speed of public transport systems … which is being led by a strong global trend towards urban rail, may help to explain these results.”

“European cities needed less than half the car use to generate the same amount of GDP as in US cities.”

Peak car use appears to be happening due .. to the growth of the knowledge/services econ­omy, the urban youth culture and use of social media, an increasing popularity of urban locations with rising urban densities and a revival in the use of transit, espe­cially urban rail”

“it is the unre­strained use of cars in peak periods, which causes the congestion that so damages bus competitiveness. An even greater im­provement in the relative speed of public transport could be gained by controlling congestion in a systematic way so that bus­es could compete effectively in speed terms with cars ”

“helping us to imagine a future where wealth can continue to be created globally whilst reducing the use of cars, oil and their damaging global impacts.”

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