The Washington State DOT just published The 2014 Corridor Capacity Report and the Washington Transportation Revenue Forecast Council published their Transportation Economic and Revenue Forecasts. This is not newsworthy, but the forecasts buried in these documents are remarkable. Below is their revised Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) forecast.
This is the first state DOT revised forecast I have seen that stops trend-lining up the 40ish year annual 2% growth rate we saw from 1965 to about 2007. Our industry will change radically if transportation funding is shifted to match this revised forecast. Traffic engineering doesn’t look like a growth industry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m not nudging my kids into traffic engineering.
(Hat Tip – Sam Schwartz from the ITE Transportation Revolution Webinar)
It is a very nice report, but I missed any mention of the impacts of autonomous vehicles. I dont expect the widespread deployment of autonomous vehicles to decrease VMT. I think that autonomous vehicles will create more trips and ultimately, the widespread deployment of autonomous vehicles onto fully autonomous-only facilities will provide a capacity boost within existing rights-of-way that will lead to a corresponding further increase in VMT as congestion levels drop. I admit this would be pretty far reaching and is 5 to 10 years down the road.
Gilmer – I don’t think they mention autonomous vehicles. It will be very interesting to see how autonomous vehicles increase VMT (which I agree, they will). BUT, the capacity of our roads should also increase with computers doing the driving instead of humans. Time will tell if autonomous vehicles will help or hurt roadway performance (volume to capacity ratios). For now, I think it’s a reasonable assumption that volumes and capacities will offset each other.