Spokane Drivers Spending Less Time Behind the Wheel

By Steve Jackson

If you are like most Washington drivers, chances are you drive less miles per year than you did ten years ago. A new report says Spokane area drivers are using their cars less.

Washington state drivers hit "peak driving" back in 1999. That was the year with the highest number of miles traveled per capita, per year. 1999 averages 9,155 miles per person, as compared to 8,339 miles per year by 2011.

In the greater Spokane urban area, the change has been dramatic: a drop of 9.5 percent in vehicle miles traveled per capita from 2006 to 2011. That info comes from a new report from Washington Public Interest Research Group, WashPIRG.

WashPIRG's Chris Esh says there are several reasons for the decline. He says today people are opting for other ways to get around, like public transit and biking. "With the growing growth of technology, people are telecommuting, rather than gonig to the office, ordering products online, rather than going to the mall, and wanting to stay actively connected through technology in ways that aren't safe while driving," says Esh. The increased cost of gasoline has also played a role.

In Spokane, the number of people using public transit has also risen. Esh says according to the National Transit Authority, "Spokane has seen one of the largest increase in passenger transit trips in the country... nearly 40p ercent increase over the course of 2006 to 2011."

WashPIRG is hoping to convince state lawmakers ,who are trying to craft a transportation bill, that the news numbers indicate more money should be spent on alternative transportation, like bikes lanes and mass transit.
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