Out of Control Policy Blog

Share of Travel in Large Cities by Private Vehicle in 1963: 85%

Frank Turner was the Chief Engineer and Asst. Federal Highway Administrator for the U.S. Department of Commerce (before the department of transportation was founded). In a paper titled "Transportation in the Urban Environment," (American Public Works Association, yearbook, 1963), Turner wrote the following which is worth repeating now:

"It is hardly necessary for me to discuss at any length the place of transportation in the urban environment. Travel and transportation are the blood cells on which the American economy flourishes—rural and urban alike. And in our age transportation in the urban area, of either people or goods, means movement over the streets and highways. In the smaller cities all travel is by highway, mostly in private vehicles but some by bus, which also is a highway vehicle. In even the largest cities where public transportation assumes its greatest portion of the load, 85 percent of the movement is by private vehicle. Motor vehicle travel, for nearly a generation growing at a rate almost exactly equal to the growth of the economy, has over the past few years been growing even faster. Perhaps as a result of the growing importance of the service industries in our economy, it has now become an expanding factor of our expanding economy. It is a part of our way of life."

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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