The Mobility Collaborative’s first white paper discusses the impact of rising gas prices on household budgets and travel behavior. Research and previous behaviors suggest that price increases alone are not going to be enough to change how people think about mobility.
The Mobility Collaborative discusses the myth frequently believed by both the general public and those in the transit industry that once gas prices reach $4 per gallon people will flock to public transportation and other rideshare options. However, data from previous jumps over this price shows that people are more likely to adjust their spending habits than their transportation behavior. Small increases can be seen in public transit ridership and carpooling, but people are more likely to give up vacations, purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle or make other spending changes to make up for the additional cost.
In this white paper, the Mobility Collaborative suggests that efficiency may solve some of the problems created by high gas prices, but to successfully prepare for the future a paradigm shift is needed. Governments, vehicle manufactures, employers and others need to change how they think about transportation and leverage both technology and the built environment to provide people with mobility options. The focus of this new paradigm is to provide access to the businesses, services and organizations needed to accomplish the tasks of daily life all while driving fewer miles. It focuses on providing options including more places within biking and walking distance, better access to public transportation systems and using technology to reduce trips.
The paper concludes that several things are clear. First, over the long run gas prices will increase. Second, unless these price increases come in very large jumps, price increases alone are not likely to change single occupant vehicle travel patterns. Finally, increasing the number of available mobility options and how these options are presented in the marketplace is likely to shift the transportation paradigm from one based on “automobility” to one based on mobility.
Download the first whitepaper from the Mobility Collaborative: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the Long-Term Impact of the Rising Price of Gas