Transportation Planning Board Sees Growing Population, Flat Commuting

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board’s study of regional travel trends has found that while the DC region’s population has grown over the past 10 years, car trips stayed flat and Metrorail ridership dipped.

From 2007 to 2017, the region’s population grew by 16 percent from 4.8 million to 5.6 million people. But despite those 800,000 additional residents, weekday vehicle travel miles grew less than a half a percent—a 13 percent decline per person when accounting for the growth in population. The study found congestion has remained largely unchanged since 2010.

And since 2010, Metrorail ridership has declined almost every year, last year hitting an average 613,000 weekday trips, the lowest since 2000. Its highest point was in 2008, at 752,000, and has declined every year since then except for a slight uptick in 2015.

Perhaps accounting in part for the conflicting changes in population, drivers, and Metro riders: the percentage of people teleworking at least occasionally in the region has grown from 11 percent in 2001, to 19 percent in 2007, to 32 percent in 2016—almost a third of all commuters in the region. The people who telework tended to be those with the longest commute. The study also found the percentage of people living in activity centers, such as mixed-use developments with a concentration of jobs, homes and transportation in one area, has grown.

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board is housed at and staffed by the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments.

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