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Transport Geography/Transport Scotland Knowledge Exchange Day

Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, 6.7.2012





Peak Car


The current state of play in an unresolved

evidence
-
based
technical argument with strong, complex, policy implications




Phil Goodwin

Emeritus Professor of Transport Policy

UCL and UWE

Train use grew rapidly until 1918 (then declined).
Bus use grew rapidly until 1950 (then declined).
Car use grew rapidly until ....


Why has this debate happened?

After decades of growth, car use levelled off and declined





In the 1970s, something like recent trends were expected


1973

DfT/TRL Car traffic forecast to 2010


But now DfT Road Traffic Forecasts are
for substantial traffic increases

The trouble is,
all

current plans and
forecasts are for growth


People will drive more (at slower speeds) (+50%)


travel by public transport more (+100%)


travel by plane more (+1000%?)


walk and cycle more ( )




and
conduct an increasing proportion of their
economic and leisure activity over the internet.

This does not reflect what has actually been
happening since 1989,
especially

for car use

It seems to be similar in other advanced countries


Private Car Use 1990
-
2009 for six, similar in 24

An unresolved argument now

1.
Blip
: temporary pause due to economic conditions. Growth
will
restart

driven by fuel price, economic growth,
population. (DfT)

2.
Saturation:

benefit from further increases in mileage
outweighed by cost. Now reached
saturation level of
car use. (
Schipper
, Metz)

3.
Peak car as a turning point:
car use passed its historic
peak and can enter a period of long decline. (Goodwin?)


(sub
-
themes


strength of policy influences, location of
development for population increases...)


All are ‘evidence
-
based’ technical arguments


All ‘evidence
-
based’?

So how to tell who is right?

‘Evidence’ has tended to be ‘supportive data’. But research hypotheses
must discriminate
between

the explanations. Suggested research
programme in an appendix, interim results meanwhile...


Look at
disaggregate

data where ‘temporary
economic pressure’ view would lead to changes
in one direction, and ‘cultural/technological shifts
and policy impacts’ view would lead to opposite

Eg

demographic and income breakdown, location
and timing of biggest changes...

DfT: test saying get
total
traffic about right in last 6 years with population,
economy, fuel price alone, therefore no evidence of shift in underlying
relationships or demand drivers

Most others have looked at disaggregation
-

recurrent theme


age and gender


Work by Barbara Noble,
Kiron

Chatterjee

& Geoff Dudley,
Gordon Stokes, Kit Mitchell, David Metz, Scott Le Vine and
others in UK, parallel work in USA, France, Germany,
Netherlands....


Some of Gordon Stokes results....

Access to a car by age


Men
1988
-
95

1995
-
01

2002
-
08


Fast take up from age 17


Decline after age 50

0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
17
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
89
Access to a car from 17 to 90
-
Males (1988
-
1995)
Main driver
Other driver
Non driver
Access to a car by age


Men
1988
-
95

1995
-
01

2002
-
08


Slightly slower rise


‘peak’ remains to late 50s

0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
17
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
Access to a car from 17 to 90
-
Males (1995
-
2001)
Main driver
Other Driver
Non driver
Access to a car by age


Men
1988
-
95 1995
-
01
2002
-
08


Markedly slower rise


‘peak’ to mid 60s


Bigger % with car at 90 than at 18

0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
17
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
89
Access to a car from 17 to 90
-
Males (2002
-
2008)
Main driver
Other driver
Non driver
Access to a car by age


Women
1988
-
95

1995
-
01 2002
-
08


Much lower than for men


Tail off from about 45

0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
17
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
89
Access to a car from 17 to 90
-
Females (1988
-
1995)
Main driver
Other driver
Non driver

Similar profile bit to higher peak level

0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
17
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
Access to a car from 17 to 90
-
Females (1995
-
2001)
Main driver
Other Driver
Non driver
Access to a car by age


Women
1988
-
95

1995
-
01

2002
-
08


Peak close to that for males


Lengthening of peak level

0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
17
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
89
Access to a car from 17 to 90
-
Females (2002
-
2008)
Main driver
Other driver
Non driver
Access to a car by age


Women
1988
-
95 1995
-
01
2002
-
08

BMW research: reduction of driving licenses by
young in 5 out of 6 countries

EXPERIENCE OF TOWNS & CITIES

Rich, economically successful cities with high incomes
and growing population


they are the ones showing
greatest reduction in car use


(Hass
-
Klau
:
London, Munich, Freiburg, Paris, Strasbourg)

And also reductions in medium size towns especially
‘sustainable travel towns’ 2004
-
8
(
Sloman

et al)

And much lower traffic levels in high density new urban
developments.


So not
only

because of economic pressure


but why?
(...better public transport, traffic restraint, parking, charging, pedestrianisation,
cycling, ‘smarter choices’, low
-
car redevelopment in brown
-
field sites.....?)

25
-
4
-
12

21

David Metz: ‘Decoupling of distance
travelled from income’

0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
1970
1975
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
2005
2010
2015
Stokes: biggest falls in car use by
highest

income men


Higher income men are driving less


... And lower incomes, driving more

0
1000
2000
3000
4000
5000
6000
7000
8000
9000
10000
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
Income Quintile
-
Males
Lowest
2
3
4
Highest
Decoupling


clear trend change over
the period 1989
-
1993

Non Transport Trends


Rise of mobile computing


Cultural and attitudinal changes


Health, environment as motivations


Demographic changes


aging population,
more single person households, later birth
age, young and also ‘empty nesters’ going
back to city, richer urban ‘tourists’ taking over
villages...


Changes in
images

of contemporary life


On
-
line shopping


Mobile internet access


A shift in the ‘effective imagery’

“Love affair with the car: I love my car
because….”


The search for another love


Mobile communications technology also
changes the
value

of time spent travelling



Music on the move
makes time pass
quickly, takes away the
stress, and hence
reduces the disutility of
travel time and the
importance of speed



Work on the move
increases the
productivity of time,
and hence reduces the
disutility of travel time
and the importance of
speed


The question for public policy: what to
do

if there are
contested, defensible, evidence
-
based, possible futures


Traffic growth will soon start up again...


or remain stable at about the present levels...


or reversing historic trend, downturn continues....


My view: it’s more than ‘temporary economic pressure’, but evidence
is still disputed and in spite of very active current research, there is
unlikely to be a consensus in the next couple of years. Need to take
fundamental change in the trends seriously.


Therefore narrow ‘high growth
-
low growth’
sensitivity tests are not good enough;
appraisal
scenarios
needed meanwhile.


Interim Appraisal Scenarios

(in advance of consensus forecasts)

Appendix


Testing the Hypotheses

(suggestions to Independent Transport
Commission in response to their Call for
Evidence on Road to Rail)


Phil Goodwin

June 2012

philinelh@yahoo.com