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Long-run Trends in Car Use

image of Long-run Trends in Car Use

The growth of car use in several advanced economies has slowed down, stopped, or turned negative. The change can not be attributed to adverse economic conditions alone. Socio-demographic factors, including population ageing and changing patterns of education, working, and household composition matter. Rising urbanization and less car-oriented policies in some cities also reduce the growth of car use, perhaps combined with changing attitudes towards mobility. Some groups choose to use cars less, others are forced to.

This report summarizes insights into the drivers of change in car use. It shows that explanations are place-specific, and that projections of future car use are increasingly uncertain. The task for policy-makers is to identify mobility strategies that are robust under an increasingly wide range of plausible scenarios.

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Executive Summary

International Transport Forum

Over the past 10 to 15 years, the growth of passenger vehicle travel volumes has decelerated in several high-income economies and, in some, growth has stopped or turned negative. Drawing from work presented to and discussions at the ITF Round Table on Long-run Trends in Travel Demand, held in November 2012, this paper presents evidence on known causes of this change in growth rates and discusses knowledge gaps, hypothetical explanations and policy implications.

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