1 Trillion Vehicle Miles Traveled in 2009

Jun 01, 2009 by Lisa Newton

Based on the last 1998 Los Angeles County Profile Study, prepared by the California Department of Transportation, the Southern California Association of Governments, and other State agencies, by extrapolation, if there was an estimated vehicle miles traveled of 76,973,000,000 or just about 77 billion miles traveled annually in 1998, then using a conservative multiplier of a 40% growth rate since 1998–using Los Angeles County’s population growth as the hypothesis–equates to a current estimated figure of a 1 trillion vehicle miles traveled per year in Los Angeles alone. Holy Crap!!

This story is not political, nor has as its intent the notion to have people think that it is—from a layperson’s perspective, it’s important to understand the magnitude of the sustainability of our way of life in the Golden State, and how to deal with the complex changes required to maintain our current quality of life.

Can the 1 trillion miles driven annually per year, grow into 400 trillion miles? Simply put—yes.

The growth in the number of people, the number of cars, and the number of drivers would generate astronomical numbers. (Not that we don’t already have them currently).

What and how can we stop this trend in our reliance on the use of cars, ease traffic, decrease carbon emissions, and improve the quality of our lives here? First some background:

Los Angeles County Profile

Countywide Statistic
Land Area: 4,079 sq./miles
Incorporated Cities and County: 89 jurisdictions
Central City: Los Angeles
Population (1-1-99): 9,757,500
Estimated Vehicle Miles Traveled in Millions (1998): 76,973
Estimated Vehicle Registrations (1998): 6,133,216
Estimated Licensed Drivers (1998): 5,407,400

Population Growth

Sub-Region 1994 2020 Increase
Arroyo Verdugo 538,000 684,100 27%
Gateway Cities 1,982,100 2,368,600 19%
Las Virgenes/Malibu 75,300 108,000 44%
North Los Angeles County 451,400 1,213,400 169%
San Gabriel Valley 1,482,100 1,805,700 22%
South Bay 819,000 925,600 13%
Westside Cities 227,000 253,000 11%
City of Los Angeles 3,656,700 4,890,900 34%
Los Angeles County Total: 9,231,600 12,249,300 33%

Source: California Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Finance, Dept. of Motor Vehicles, and Southern California Association of Governments

There is an Easy Solution or in the alternative, there’s Solutions that are Easier

Try a Bike

Over the next year or more, Travelin’ Local’s staff and I are going to take a look at the myriad of regional local, national, and international varied and innovative proposals and perspectives on how we can implement changes to our current transportation conundrum. There are many and varied proposals and solutions out there to find answers to our vexing need to alter our reliance on carbon and coal energy, which include, carpooling, biking, ride sharing, mass transit, and even walking.

Each has its own set of options, pros and cons, and features and benefits. All of them will make the future of California a better place to live and work.

If we—and that doesn’t mean your neighbor but you too–don’t start making some serious changes in our energy and transportation behavior now, what kind of world can we expect to see in our lifetime, let alone the world we’ll be leaving for our children?

Take a Seat and Enjoy the View

Your parents probably asked themselves the same question—but from an economic and educational perspective no doubt.  But today’s circumstances are far removed from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and even 80s.

It will take a few changes on our part; however, in the long run, it’s a win/win situation for everybody. As we expand upon our Travelin’ Local project here and as it comes to life, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

What changes have you made?  What changes might you make in the future?

As obvious from the major Transportation bills making their way through the halls of Congress, the changes underway are the most radical shift in the use of economics and politics in our history, and it all has to do with how we are Travelin’ Local and elsewhere too.

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13 Responses to “1 Trillion Vehicle Miles Traveled in 2009”

  1. 1 Trillion Vehicle Miles Traveled in 2009 « acc3ss.info says:

    [...] Read the original: 1 Trillion Vehicle Miles Traveled in 2009 [...]

  2. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the “scary” information about the traffic situation in Los Angeles. When you read something like this you realize that we must act very soon. I certainly applaud the cities and towns that are making an effort to solve these problems.

    Your method of travelling “smart” should be a model for everyone out in the world. Even in small communities like the one I live in we can all do a better job at reducing our wasteful driving and energy consumption.

    Kevin’s last blog post..Win a copy of Enchanted Isles – The Southern Gulf Islands


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Kevin, I totally agree. Small or big, all townspeople should be doing their part in driving less, and using alternative transportation……..:)


  3. D. Travis North says:

    I knew the data was grim…but had no idea it was that bad. Bottom line, there is no reason for so much automobile traffic in-and-around cities. I would very much like to see more incentives for people to live in the city again. Kill the “American Dream” of the plush lawn, picket fences and so on – it’s killing us slowly. Besides, it’s a farce. What kind of life requires you to jump in the car to go to the convenience store? There’s a lot to be said about a good park system, good public transportation and the ability to get a bite to eat from a few dozen restaurants all within a short walk of your living space.

    D. Travis North’s last blog post..Pulitzer Prize for Photography – Are You Mentally Able?


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @D. Travis North, You’re so right. I love walking to my neighborhood store, but when I lived in the suburbs, this option wasn’t so easy. I hope suburban designers get the message that building walkable communities is definitely the way to go.


  4. Caroline says:

    The one thing I don’t like about LA is how spread out everything is and the amount of driving one has to do. I came from Chicago, and it’s so easy to get around and the public transit system is awesome. I do try to walk as much as possible.

    Caroline’s last blog post..Capturing your essence…


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Caroline, I know, the way LA was designed isn’t the best. Because of this, I tend to stick to the Westside. But, I’m slowly branching out. When I live in DC, it was similar to Chicago. Sometimes I drive to a middle location and then take public transportation. It’s more of a time saver for me…………..:)

    I usually also am traveling with a friend, so we car pool.


  5. Paisley (Paisley Thoughts) says:

    I live in a city that is tiny compared to LA but the traffic along with the population is growing and growing. We can learn a lot from how your part of the world is going to deal with this situation. Great post.

    Paisley (Paisley Thoughts)’s last blog post..The Last Word


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Paisley (Paisley Thoughts), @Paisley LA is still learning, but I’m happy we might be able to show another city the way to go. I know the Rapid Metro here is a bit ahead of the curve………….:)


  6. David says:

    Because every transaction usually has at least 6 cross-transactions, the possibility that a trillion miles per year could, within a reasonable period, reach a total of 10,000,000,000,000,000, which would be ten-quadrillion vehicle miles driven per year in just LA County alone.


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @David, Does the car’s odometer go up that high:



  7. Patricia says:

    Too many miles…like your plan of action and folks need to start doing right now…not even wait until tomorrow

    Patricia’s last blog post..And The Winner Is!


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Patricia, You’ve got that right!!


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