Will driving decline?

Many communities are debating how to handle traffic, deciding whether mass transit systems or more highways are the answer. But some folks predict that driving will significantly decline in the future. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains why.

“Some states are considering some major new expenditures on highways. Some private firms have (considered), and continue to consider, spending money, borrowing investor money, to build toll roads. And it’s all based, these these investments are all based, on the assumption that driving will continue to increase — miles driven will continue to increas — whereas actually looking over the last five years driving has declined.

“And there are some futurists, I’ll call them, who say, ‘Hey, we have now seen a sea change. Driving is not going up, it’s going to go down.’ They point the potentially several reasons: the movement to shorter work weeks; more online shopping; workers, for example, retiring earlier; car sharing; as well as high-density development.

“So this is something that we need to track. This is very important not just for private investors but for public investors because, for example, we all pay gas taxes.”

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