Complimentary to transforming vehicle design is changing how vehicle are used. We can eliminate the need for many trips entirely, and use vehicles in smarter ways, improving access to places or goods with fewer, shorter, or faster trips. Changing how we use autos doesn’t just save oil; it also creates new business opportunities.
Paying infrastructure costs by the mile not the gallon, smart IT traffic and transport systems, alternative commuting, smart growth and other strategies can slash more than half the 13,000 miles a typical American drives each year and cut just under a third or more freight-hauling miles while enhancing personal mobility and freight logistics.
Together, all these ways to use autos more productively can save a 2010 net present value of about $0.4 trillion, deliver the same or better access to where we want to be, and take a giant step toward getting off oil.
U.S. nationwide road travel time index by hour of a typical day
Even if we all drove superefficient Revolutionary+ vehicles, our transportation system would still suffer from serious congestion, highway accidents, and infrastructure shortages. One way to combat these problems is to develop pricing mechanisms that flatten morning and afternoon commuting peaks that are shown in this graph.
Traditional housing costs vs H+T index for Atlanta
The Center for Neighborhood Technology has developed an interactive online tool that illustrates what we pay to live far away from work, play, or school. In this example, the Atlanta area has far less affordable housing when transportation costs are added to bare housing costs.
Summary of U.S. VMT reduction strategies
Estimates in Reinventing Fire for VMT reduction potential are drawn from several studies and reports. As a conservatism, our modeling results draw upon the lower range of each estimate.
Principal means of U.S. transportation to work, 2001–2008
Nearly 77% of U.S. job commuting is by single-person auto. Smart firms are finding many better options.
Cost of adding one additional vehicle to traffic in New York City throughout the day
Economist Charles Komanoff calculated that in New York City each additional vehicle that joins traffic during rush hour costs society approximately $150 (not a typo!).
Carsharing members (North America and Europe) and projected growth
The carsharing industry has grown significantly in the past three years and offers major business opportunities. Carsharing membership is expected to reach 4.4 million in North America by 2016.