Just this week, we had a small but significant victory with the first state to significantly establish a new trajectory for future transportation needs.
Washington state's financial office set a dramatically better driving forecast that recognized previous overestimates, acknowledges the sagging number of vehicle registrations in the state, and the higher price of gas. This means that the state will be preparing for about 53 billion driving miles in 2040 -- down from about 58 billion now -- instead of ramping up highway construction to accommodate a forecast of about 72 billion miles. This is a big difference in background assumptions that will make it easier to encourage more investment in public transit, biking and walking infrastructure, and to encourage highway money to be more focused on repairing existing roads and bridges instead of building new lanes.
We plan to bring attention to this victory as an example for other states. The new forecast comes from the state's Office of Financial Management, which needs to figure out future gas tax revenue. You can read and tweet more about the Washington state victory here.
As Executive Director Andre Delattre put it, "The challenge now is to get other states and the federal government to do the same."
Signs of progress can be found in a smattering of other states. Maryland DOT's 20-year vision likewise acknowledges that "a return to strong VMT growth is unlikely." Illinois' more recent long-term plan downgraded the forecast of driving growth from 2 percent to 1 percent. California, Minnesota and Oregon have done their own state or regional transportation surveys of current travel that we detail in the "Millennials in Motion" report that we released this month. These surveys provide grist for reform by documenting the reduction in driving and shifts to other modes, even if the surveys don't get directly translated into new forecasts.