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Martin Laplante

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Sat, 04 Oct 2008

Canada and US Driving Continue To Drop

The downward trends in driving in the U.S. and Canada are continuing. These two graphs with roughly similar scales show a moving 12-month average of all driving on roads. The Canadian figures are from the quarterly Canadian Vehicle Survey and go to March 2008, U.S. figures are from the Traffic Volume Trends and go to July 2008. Both sets of figures were released in the past few days.

The 25-year upward trend in the US slowed down in 2005 when gas prices spiked to $3 a gallon, and then plummeted in December 2007, when gasoline went up over $3 a gallon and stayed there.

In Canada the trend is very odd. Driving stayed pretty well constant for many years until 2006, then went up and up and up until the middle of 2007 and been going down since then. The downward trend started a little sooner in Canada, but it is decreasing much more slowly than in the U.S.

So why the sharp increase in Canada starting in 2006? There were major changes in federal government transportation programs that were widely panned by experts but that can't be it. That would affect the type of vehicles purchased, not the number of kilometres driven.

There was new program that was to increase transit ridership by 5%. Latest statistics show that this did not happen. Transit ridership kept on growing at the same rate as before, then dropped for 6 months, then continued growing as before.

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