By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – This may seem a little tough to swallow, given all that our traffic reports have to say about tie-ups, but a study finds that there’s actually been a decline in highway use.

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Figures from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission show that overall highway use declined almost 10-percent from 2006 through 2011.

The Commission’s Associate Director of Systems Planning Christopher Puchalsky explains why.

“A significant amount of traffic congestion is due to non-reccuring events, like weather, accidents, so on and so forth,” he said. “Second of all, our highways are over capacity so, even if there’s a decrease of ten percent, there’s going to be a number of them that are still quite crowded.”

As to why what may be the first real decrease in travel in a century is happening, Puchalsky points to the Great Recession and a trend by Millenials to forgo car-dependant suburbs for transit-served cities.

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“They’re more likely to want to live in urban centers. I think one study said twice as likely to want to live in urban areas than the previous generation and they’re also less likely to want to own a car.”

This has been born out by rising transit ridership.

The information is to help policymakers invest in priorities, and the public to understand why.


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