A report released today by Sightline Institute shows that per-capita gasoline consumption in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho decreased for the seventh consecutive year in 2007. That's an 11 percent decrease since 1999.
Maybe 11 percent doesn't sound all that earth-shattering (or earth-mending, in this case), but the author of the report, Clark Williams-Derry, offers this perspective: It's the equivalent of every driver in the Northwest taking a five-week holiday from driving.
What's more: Despite the boon in Northwest population during this same time period, overall gasoline consumption did not increase accordingly. It remained the same for the three states combined; Idaho saw a slight decrease due to its population boom, and Wash. and Ore. both saw decreases.
Break it down per person, and you get more good news. Per-person gas consumption in the U.S. fell in 2007, but not as far as it fell in the Northwest. We're lower than the national average by 9 percent. Drivers in Wash. and Ore. use 7.7 gallons per week, and those in Idaho use 8.3.
Sightline attributes the fuel decreases to the following:
- Transit ridership is up. Last year, Sound Transit was up 12.5 percent, Snohomish County transit was up 10 percent, and King County Metro was up 7 percent.
- Vehicles are more fuel efficient. Sales of hybrids are up, and sales of SUVs are falling faster than passenger car sales.
- Travel, generally, is down. Between 2003 and 2007, per-person vehicle travel declined by 3.5 percent.
- More people are opting for transit-friendly neighborhoods. Census data analysis shows growth in downtown, pedestrian-friendly areas.
Crosscut readers, how do the report findings mesh with your own experiences? In 2001, the hub and I became a one-vehicle couple, and much of the time, we're busing or hoofing it. Eliminating horrendous car-commutes was a deciding factor in our decision to downsize and move to Seattle, even though we have to pay so much for the privilege. We're house-poor but our carbon footprint is small. On the other hand, we do crave a road trip now and then.