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Is there a limit to car traffic growth ? Potential demand and convergence paths towards saturation

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  • Richard Grimal

    () (Cerema Equipe-projet ESPRIM - Centre d'Etudes et d'Expertise sur les Risques, l'Environnement, la Mobilité et l'Aménagement - Equipe-projet ESPRIM - Cerema - Centre d'Etudes et d'Expertise sur les Risques, l'Environnement, la Mobilité et l'Aménagement)

Abstract

Car traffic growth has temporarily stopped during the 2000's, before coming back to growth after 2010, in relation with economic recovery and decreasing fuel prices. However, there are strong reasons to believe that car traffic growth is potentially limited, among which close completion of the diffusion process for car ownership, limited travel time budgets in relation with stable or declining travel speeds, decreasing marginal returns of additional car travel and infrastructure capacity restrictions. Representing car ownership as the result of an equilibrium between potential demand and economic constraints, and assuming additional car travel to be of decreasing marginal utility, one can implement a model to estimate saturation thresholds and describe the convergence path towards saturation. The model is disaggregated by household type and vehicle rank to account for heterogeneous choice sets and structural change in demographics and activity rates. It highlights the existence of an incomplete diffusion process for some groups and allows to break down potential demand between negotiable and non-negotiable needs. Projection results for France prove the existence of residual potential growth for car equipment among non-working adults which is nonetheless limited, while population ageing and changing cohabitation patterns will have a downwards effect on demand. By combining these results with car mileage projections, we find average car traffic per adult to increase gently until 2040, and remain almost stable afterwards. From this date, traffic trends would be essentially determined by demographic factors.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Grimal, 2019. "Is there a limit to car traffic growth ? Potential demand and convergence paths towards saturation," Post-Print hal-02164984, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-02164984
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02164984
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Adam Millard‐Ball & Lee Schipper, 2011. "Are We Reaching Peak Travel? Trends in Passenger Transport in Eight Industrialized Countries," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(3), pages 357-378.
    2. David Metz, 2013. "Peak Car and Beyond: The Fourth Era of Travel," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3), pages 255-270, May.
    3. Philippe Coulangeon & Ivaylo D. Petev, 2012. "L’équipement automobile, entre contrainte et distinction sociale," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 457(1), pages 97-121.
    4. Richard Grimal & Roger Collet & Jean-Loup Madre, 2013. "Is the Stagnation of Individual Car Travel a General Phenomenon in France? A Time-Series Analysis by Zone of Residence and Standard of Living," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3), pages 291-309, May.
    5. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1996_51n4-5_0977 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Richard Grimal, 2017. "Modeling Auto-Mobility: Combining Cohort Analysis with Panel Data Econometrics," Post-Print hal-02162281, HAL.
    7. Cécile Vignal, 2005. "Logiques professionnelles et logiques familiales : une articulation contrainte par la délocalisation de l'emploi," Post-Print halshs-00292595, HAL.
    8. Richard Grimal & Roger Collet & Jean-Loup Madre, 2013. "Is the Stagnation of Individual Car Travel a General Phenomenon in France? A Time-Series Analysis by Zone of Residence and Standard of Living," Post-Print hal-02162249, HAL.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Keywords

    saturation; car equipment; traffic growth; potential demand;
    All these keywords.

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