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Has the Industrialized World Reached Peak Travel?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-blame-the-lack-of-flying-cars dept.

Transportation 314

Harperdog sends this excerpt from Miller-McCune: "A study (abstract) of eight industrialized countries, including the United States, shows that seemingly inexorable trends — ever more people, more cars and more driving — came to a halt in the early years of the 21st century, well before the recent escalation in fuel prices. It could be a sign, researchers said, that the demand for travel and the demand for car ownership in those countries has reached a saturation point. 'With talk of "peak oil," why not the possibility of "peak travel" when a clear plateau has been reached?' asked co-author Lee Schipper ... Most of the eight countries in the study have experienced declines in miles traveled by car per capita in recent years. The US appears to have peaked at an annual 8,100 miles by car per capita, and Japan is holding steady at 2,500 miles."

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Far from it... (4, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731552)

We simply either cant spend the money, wont spend the money or cant/wont approve new infrastructure projects that will ease the traffic burden. One prime example was ripping down the West Side Highway in NYC (instead of fixing or replacing it), and then "wondering" why congestion increased when "suddenly" the drivers who used to use the WSH are now on surface streets or migrating to the FDR drive.

Re:Far from it... (3, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731622)

Furthermore, the paradigm of "peak $thing" is not necessarily applicable to every fashionable $thing.
Travel is constrained by the carrying capacity of roads and junctions. If investment in these does not keep pace with demand for capacity, then the demand is throttled by the negative effects of congestion. As population density increases in some region, it becomes harder (disproportionately more expensive) to increase the carrying capacity of roads in proportion - the number of choke points increases and congestion increases. The low density exurbs have no such problem, except when it comes to commuting to a high density downtown...

Re:Far from it... (5, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731864)

As population density increases in some region, it becomes harder (disproportionately more expensive) to increase the carrying capacity of roads in proportion

This is true. However, a conclusion that sprawl is cheaper to maintain would be wildly inaccurate.

I spent some time reviewing alternatives for the Austin Comprehensive Plan [imagineaustin.net] -- discussing zoning, city layout, pollution levels, cost to build and maintain roads, man-hours and funds wasted by commuting, and the like for several different development scenarios. The high-density, compact city was not only environmentally preferable -- it was by far the most economically efficient way to manage our anticipated growth.

Increasing capacity of existing roads (while still keeping them focused around single-occupancy vehicles) is inordinately expensive, yes. On the other hand, planning a compact, high-density city that puts people in walking or cycling distance of their work, schools and shopping avoids creation of those vehicle-miles altogether -- and creates a more livable, healthier city to boot.

Re:Far from it... (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731928)

Yeah the folks in India have this "compressed city living" down pat. AKA slums.
But we Americans and Europeans don't want to live that way.
- City planners never account for quality of life. While your vision may be cheaper, I'd still sooner commute from a exurb of DC (home) to another exurb of DC (work), then have to actually live inside DC and walk/bike. I would feel like I had been sent to hell. (I don't like tight spaces or concrete.)

Re:Far from it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34732034)

I also want a large, single family house with a yard, not some tiny little box in a warren of other boxes. My current commute is 38 miles (61 kilometers) one way. But, I have a 2,500 square foot (232 square meters) house for the family and a decent yard between us and noisy neighbors who don't share my sleep cycle. Much better to sit in traffic a bit than to live in some city center.

Re:Far from it... (4, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732104)

Which will work fine until oil is at $120-150/barrel, and you're spending a non-negligible amount on fuel for commuting and can't afford your mortgage and food.

There are billions of people between India and China who are going to be driving soon. And who will be using oil to do so. Don't kid yourself, the suburbs are unsustainable.

Re:Far from it... (2, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732478)

Which will work fine until oil is at $120-150/barrel, and you're spending a non-negligible amount on fuel for commuting and can't afford your mortgage and food.

Nonsense. Oil already hit $120 a few years back, and I don't know anyone who had to chose between commuting and traveling. Even if it hits $200 per barrel 5 years from now, my car will be ready for replacement, and I can buy another one which uses half as much fuel.

There are billions of people between India and China who are going to be driving soon. And who will be using oil to do so. Don't kid yourself, the suburbs are unsustainable.

Yes, billions of people in India and China will be able to afford $150/barrel fuel, but people in first world nations won't. Nice logic there.

Re:Far from it... (4, Interesting)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732258)

and a decent yard between us and noisy neighbors who don't share my sleep cycle. Much better to sit in traffic a bit than to live in some city center.

I feel obliged to note here:

while most apartments are cheap as hell and you don't notice this, it is perfectly possible to design apartment buildings so the noise factor (from neighbors) is not an issue. While I've lived in a lot of worse places since, when I lived in Boston, one of my neighbors was a professional violin player, who practiced a great deal, but his playing could only be heard in the hall, not from neighboring units. It was actually almost a problem.... the noise insulation was so good, that the FIRE ALARM went off in the hall, and I could barely hear it in my bedroom.

Sadly, the noise insulation from the outside was not as good, but that was because it didn't have modern windows (which is an easy thing to do in a modern building)

Don't get me wrong, I mostly agree with you. But I felt obliged to note that it IS possible to make an apartment building which gives its tenants privacy, even if only so that people would know to look for one if they're stuck in the city.

Re:Far from it... (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732112)

Well, India has a lot of poor people, that's why they HAD to increase efficiency and compress the city. They simply could not afford the crazy traffic expenses of most cities. In mine, it's not uncommon at all to find people paying over 1/5 of their salary in transportation (gas + parking only, I'm not taking into account vehicular depreciation or maintenance). Richer metropolises COULD compress even more and benefit greatly, not having to turn into slums exactly because they aren't that poor that they are forced into doing it in the first place.

Re:Far from it... (3, Interesting)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732126)

Europeans do compressed cities just fine, and since you're in DC, i'll say that Ballston and Courthouse are a really good example of high density living.

Re:Far from it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34732176)

Don't forget being able to raise a family. In European cities, this isn't an issue. However in American cities, you would be a poor parent (assuming you can afford it) if you don't move to a suburban area so your kids are not attackable by transients, drugs, gangbangers, or hit by vehicles when trying to get from the high density apartment or condo to a playground.

The difference between European cities and American cities is policing. European police take the job seriously. American police tend to be so underfunded that the best they can do is issue a report or perhaps clean up the blood spilled.

US city planners are outright retards. Yes, retards. Take Austin, TX for instance. The city council passed a bill advertised as "helping traffic and commute times" that would put the city in 90 million worth of debt. The reality? 45 million is making a bike path to a park that almost nobody has heard of. 20 million is closing downtown streets and making them bike only (even though there are no real residence buildings there.) The rest is repaving roads and turning in two lane roads into one lane + bike lanes. The ONLY traffic improvement is a lane for about 1000 feet in part of south Austin. The morons who planned this don't understand that the jobs are centered in plants and industrial centers at the edge of town. Having the center of town impassible to vehicle traffic is not going to help long term economic growth -- it just forces people to live in Round Rock and other outskirts, causing Austin to lose more tax revenue. The Austin city planners see Paris and want to have a car-free city. However, the US != France, and cities refuse to fund buses, trams, or other transport methods common in Europe.

City planners need to understand the US is the US, and not Europe. What is needed is a system to have cars drive themselves and be able to automatically be driven on dense interstates without driver interference (so one moron can't wreck and grind the whole system to a halt.) Instead, city planners just want to say, "ride a bike" instead of actually taking steps to fix things.

Re:Far from it... (2)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732406)

I'm familiar with the details of the bond issue you spoke of -- "familiar with the details" meaning that I actually went down the line items and read up on exactly what they propose. Your third paragraph has a few half-truths -- but is mostly full of outright lies. Example: Nothing in the bond issue creates bicycle-only streets -- for that matter, even the failed "bike boulevard" plan wouldn't have created bicycle-only streets.

A bit more accuracy in your future flaming would be appreciated.

Re:Far from it... (5, Insightful)

Scott Wood (1415) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732198)

You claim to speak for all Americans and Europeans?

I would much rather live in a proper city (they're not all slums) than a suburb or exurb. I hate being tied to a huge hulk of oil-gobbling pollution-spewing metal that I must take everywhere I go (and always be sober to do so), with so much land being dedicated to the storage of said hulks of metal at every destination (you say you don't like concrete -- do you like asphalt?). Unfortunately, the city I live in (Austin, but it applies in much of the US) has zoned mostly low density and thus high density areas are expensive due to limited supply relative to demand, and jobs are scattered in the suburbs, so I'm stuck with the car.

If you like your exurb (but apparently not the one you work in, since you feel the need to commute), fine, but don't complain about gas tax increases or other driving charges to pay for your highways and to keep CO2 and oil consumption under control. Don't complain if you get charged higher utility rates than urban customers because you need more pipe/wire distance per person. Don't complain if more of your local taxes have to be spent on police and fire coverage to cover the same number of people. Don't complain if state/federal tax money is spent on the more efficient population centers, particularly for things like transit. Don't complain that natural gas/electricity has to be kept cheap so you can heat/cool your large detached house.

Re:Far from it... (3, Interesting)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732390)

Unfortunately, the city I live in (Austin, but it applies in much of the US) has zoned mostly low density and thus high density areas are expensive due to limited supply relative to demand, and jobs are scattered in the suburbs, so I'm stuck with the car.

Howdy, neighbor!

I recently moved from up around Lamar and Rundberg (still own a house there -- renting it out until the market gets better) down to the new (built in 2005) condos on East 6th and Pedernales.

It's a great place -- big gated courtyard (the dog has more room to run than he did in the backyard of the house), cheap to maintain ($176/mo HOA fee includes everything but electricity -- Internet, gas, water, waste, maintenance, etc -- and my electric bill is down by more than that $176/mo)... and the walls are thick enough that when I ask my neighbors if my dog barking annoyed them, they tell me they couldn't hear a thing. (I'm inclined to believe them -- they also own dogs, and I never hear their pets bark except from the hall... so either everyone but me has a silent pet, or we have really good noise insulation). Right now I commute by bicycle (or the train, if I'm feeling lazy) to work up around Northcross and Anderson (~9 miles each way), but I have a few friends with jobs in the middle of downtown, so there's a very good chance that next time I'm looking for work I'll be able to find something with a short east-west commute.

More to the point, though -- it was cheap. Sure, the new square-downtown highrise buildings are as expensive as you'd expect -- and sure, East 6th used to be the ghetto -- but it's totally possible to buy a place "downtown enough" for under $150K.

Of course, I don't know your circumstances -- for me, it was resigning from Dell that freed me to move here -- but the point is that if you haven't even looked at whether there's anything downtown because you're expecting everything to run $400K+... go ahead and look again. You might be surprised.

Re:Far from it... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732420)

>>>huge hulk of oil-gobbling pollution-spewing metal

(hugs 80mpg hybrid) It's okay baby. He didn't mean it.

>>>don't complain about gas tax increases or other driving charges to pay for your highways

I don't. In fact I think gas taxes should increase, in order to fix all the bridges that are on the verge of collapse (see the Minneapolis bridge). As for my exurb I get to look out my window and see trees and cows (in the distance) and other wildlife like birds, squirrels, chipmunks, etc. Moving to the concrete hell of the DC or Baltimore city would mean giving that up, and I don't want to cut myself off from nature.

Re:Far from it... (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732488)

80 MPG? Are you driving to work at 5 mph every day? ;) I wasn't aware that any hybrid got that amount of gas mileage at highway speeds.

Re:Far from it... (3, Interesting)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732460)

Huh. See, I'm sitting here in a high-owner-occupancy-percentage gated condo in downtown Austin with 14-foot ceilings, outstanding noise isolation, a big courtyard to play with the dog, a enjoyable daily workout by doing my commute by bike... and I'm pretty damned happy with my quality of life.

"Slum"? I don't see it.

Re:Far from it... (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732476)

We may not have to live that way, but we Americans are subsidizing the opposite, sprawl-generating suburban lifestyle. While I might want to live with a nice yard and big house, I don't think that anyone should subsidize my choice.

Re:Far from it... (3)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732494)

But we Americans and Europeans don't want to live that way.

You've obviously never been to Europe or any major American city. They already live like that and like it. There are about two million people living on the island of Manhattan. Obviously, your opinion presented as fact is wrong.

City planners never account for quality of life.


Again, you are asserting your incorrect opinion as fact. They do take it into account, and your lies to the contrary won't change that.

I don't like tight spaces or concrete.

Ah, the typical Neo-Con. Anything you like is what everyone else should like. Everyone else is wrong. Anyone who hold another opinion is wrong and should be dismissed. Just because you don't like city living doesn't mean no one else does, as you asserted. And you lie about city planners in order to further push your agenda.

Re:Far from it... (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732416)

The counter point is that as the density increases, I don't have to drive as far to get what I want. I now generally walk to the grocery store. It is literally "in my backyard" and it is easier to just walk over there than it is to drive, find a parking space, and then walk the rest of the way.

Re:Far from it... (1, Troll)

Degro (989442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732038)

...but the taxes! We have to lower the taxes... We need the wealthy to have plenty of cash on-hand to make this a better world for us all.

Re:Far from it... (1)

kgrr (567114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732298)

I don't think the roads are a limiting factor. I think it's how much gasoline people are willing to consume each month.

Re:Far from it... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732330)

We simply either cant spend the money, wont spend the money or cant/wont approve new infrastructure projects that will ease the traffic burden.

Well perhaps an alternative view of Peak Car (the article was focused almost solely on car and had very little to say about other means of travel), is that public infrastructure IS finally getting attention in many cities to the point where car ownership and driving is not necessary.

Perhaps not in your example from NYC, but in many other places public transit has become responsive, cheap, and frequent enough that people are shifting their priorities. Seattle installed lite rail over the last several year, with 10 minute headways (train intervals), for cheaper than the price of parking.

Making neighborhoods livable is the next step. Instead of the supposed efficiency of huge supermarkets, a return to neighborhood markets in planned subdivisions makes more sense. Perhaps outlet stores of the major chains is the way to go. That way people could walk to the store for the eggs and milk and order the other stuff at the same trip or over the net, and pick it up locally instead of driving 20 miles.

The word "peak" must be a hard one (0)

klingens (147173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731556)

Said study authors should learn what a "peak" is and what peak oil means: after the "peak" there is a decline. So "scientists": come back if there is a steady, continous decline.

Re:The word "peak" must be a hard one (3, Informative)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731668)

FTFS: "...why not the possibility of "peak travel" when a clear plateau has been reached?' "

They are saying a possibility of it being a peak, and clearly said the evidence points to a plateau right now. Would appear what they are doing is speculation, but they got the terms right.

Re:The word "peak" must be a hard one (2)

kgrr (567114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732240)

Clearly it stands to reason that if we have hit peak oil (the rate of oil production), the refineries are not becomming more efficient and if the efficiency of vehicles is not really significantly increasing, then the miles the vehicles travel have also peaked. * World oil production - 86 million barrels per day (Mbpd) - This has been pretty flat over the last five years. * US consumption of world oil - The US consumes around 1/4 of the world's oil. Due to the decline in the economy, US oil consumption has fallen some 9%, down nearly 2 million barrels per day (mbpd) from 20.7 mbpd in mid 2007, to about 18.8 mbpd in October 2009 * American Petroleum Institute reports that 1 barrel of oil produced 19.4 gallons of gasoline per barrel based on average yields for U.S. refineries.

Re:The word "peak" must be a hard one (1)

kgrr (567114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732374)

The oil plateau is clearly a fact. This means a fixed amount of oil is being produced in the world (86 Mbpd). The US consumes about 1/4 of that. Refineries are about as efficient as they can get. The overall mpg efficiency of passenger cars is pretty steady at 22.5 mpg. --> overall car mileage probably has plateaued.

Re:The word "peak" must be a hard one (2)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732058)

Said study authors should learn what a "peak" is and what peak oil means: after the "peak" there is a decline. So "scientists": come back if there is a steady, continous decline.

No.. a peak is just a local high point; there does not have to be a continuous steady decline just a VALLEY. There are different possible results after a peak has been reached.

It could be a flat graph after the peak is reached, e.g. only a small decrease, and then a straight line; indicating a "cap", after some time at the high point.

More commonly a peak followed by a valley and then another peak, the next peak might be higher or lower than the first peak, or it might be at the same level.

A peak does not indicate a top value reached followed by a continuous decline.

One wonders... (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731586)

How(if at all) they are factoring in all the trucks delivering the stuff that I would historically have had to drive a car to the store to obtain...

A shift in the US from suburban material culture, where car transport is essentially necessary, and that necessity is self-perpetuating through the cultural and infrastructure spending priorities it creates, would be big news.

A shift from buying at bestbuy to buying at bestbuy.com might well drive down the number of car-hours/year; but would be fairly uninteresting. Ditto with things like Netflix and Amazon and pay-per-view cable movies and whatnot...

Re:One wonders... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731792)

That's not entirely apt. It used to be that groceries would be delivered by the grocer, you'd stop by select what you wanted and they'd deliver it for you. Back up until the affluence of the 60s or so, it was typical for families to only own one car.

I suspect the bigger factor was that people didn't buy as much stuff and expected it to last longer. These days it's a challenge, as there's low end and high end stuff available. It can be a real challenge to find things which are midranged in terms of both price and quality.

Re:One wonders... (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732204)

Forget that - buy high end stuff (for durability, quality) and just buy slower; you'll spend less over time because you won't replace what you buy, and you'll find that you really don't need half of it in the first place.

Re:One wonders... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34731806)

(Anecdotal footnote to above: I live in a reasonably dense urban area, good public transit access to most retail shopping, many of my friends, the assorted cultural and other amenities of a decent-sized city, so I don't even bother to own a car. Miles driven, nearly zero, minus the occasional cab ride when hours or location are abnormally iffy.

If you totted up the number of transit miles racked up by the USPS, UPS, and Fedex drivers serving my area, though, it would hardly be fair to say that I "don't drive", I merely outsource my logistical driving to specialists. The ease with which I can do that(and the fact that I often don't even a premium over retail to do so) is interesting; but much less interesting than a substantial change in "miles driven/year to keep fuzzyfuzzyfungus supplied with CPUs and booze"...

Re:One wonders... (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731876)

Well there's also a point where you can only spend so much time in a day travelling before you move to reduce travelling. I think on an individual basis that may vary a lot, but there's probably a plateau'd statistical average (maybe 2 hours? not sure). Since speed limits haven't increased dramatically (and as congestion increases traffic speed overall goes down), the distance travelled will eventually peak, until you alleviate congestion or otherwise increase the speed of travel. That would be for sort of day to day work. Then you get into vacation time and so on, and again, you only get so much vacation time (which hasn't magically increased in the last few decades), so you pretty much cap your driving vs flying distance. You can only drive so far before it becomes preferably to fly, even if you make flying unpalatable (longer security check ins etc..) you only increase the driving > flying radius so much. If you have to go from New York to London (either the london where I live in ontario or the good london in the UK), and extra hour or 2 at the airport doesn't make it better to try and drive. New York to washington D.C. maybe though. So your total distance travelled in a year (via car) is going to be the sum of normal everyday driving + vacation driving. Even if you want to count total distance travelled, well, again, airplanes are mostly capped towards the speed of sound, so unless you get more time to travel, you aren't going to go much farther until we see more regular super sonic air travel.

I suspect G.M. figured this peak travel thing out when they designed the Volt. They figure ~80% of all driving is done in 1 day, and less than 100km or whatever the exact numbers are. That pretty much tells you the cap. We've been at 100% of the north american population that wants a car has one for about a decade, so the only growth there is population growth, unless we can start to increase the average speed of road travel (which, beyond reducing congestion seems unlikely), we're not going to change the max distance any time soon.

Naturally smaller, and more dense countries could travel less, (something like 20% of japans population is in the greater tokyo area, which overall is about 3.5% of the total are of the country, or so wikipedia tells me).

Re:One wonders... (2)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732290)

Japan has better transit, so you could, for instance, spend most of your travel time on a train, and it's possible that japanese people largely use cars for weekend trips (far out modders also push the average down - if you've added a 10 foot fiberglass rear bumper to your van (no lie!), you probably don't drive it much).

I'd like to look at it as a holistic transport problem - how do you move people in volume with the minimum time per passenger? This is different from GM's thing, as cars are not required, and really, good subway networks in cities and mid distance trains could give an 80% solution. Hell, even a 50% solution that means we don't need to build bigger roads is probably a financial win.

Re:One wonders... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732418)

In sufficiently dense areas, you basically face the choice between building "mass transit" for cars or mass transit for people. (Obviously, the cars don't literally get put onto trains or anything; but bridges, tunnels, overpasses, underpasses, specialized high-density parking garages, and the like are, in terms of capital expenditure, urban planning, use of eminent domain, and so forth, more similiar to 'mass transit' than they are to your ordinary suburban road system).

In lower density areas, cars are much more natural(if potentially problematic in the longer term).

The compromise that somtimes works, for the standard "urban area with lots of suburbanites commuting in" setup is to have a few rail lines going in to the city, with combination parking lot/train stations set up in the suburbs at locations that offer the right combination of 'near commuters' and 'relatively low land value'. Since the land is cheap, you can economically offer parking for peanuts, and the trains can dump people right into the core mass transit system, keeping their cars out of the city; but not requiring the expensive(and often not terribly efficient) expansion of higher density public transit coverage into the suburbs and exurbs...

Rubber Gloves (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731606)

Ass exams over nail clippers certainly don't help

Oh dear... (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731614)

Is "peak" the new "-gate"?

Re:Oh dear... (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731686)

I don't know, have we reached peak -gate yet?

Re:Oh dear... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34732004)

I think we've opened the gate to a post-peak-gate-pocalypse buzz-phase-free world.

Re:Oh dear... (1)

Iburnaga (1089755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732384)

Peak-gate will definitely involve tits.

At last... (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731706)

"Peak-gate"
The outrageous scandal of uh, something vague maybe, or nothing much really, we're not actually sure about it, and might have made it up completely... but it's coming to your TV screen tonight!

Re:Oh dear... (1)

dubbayu_d_40 (622643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732248)

Are they planning a new Starpeak series?

Telepresence and remote (2)

hajus (990255) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731642)

A lot of work that used to require physical presence can now be done remotely. Not necessarily from home, but from computers at an office that doesn't have to be located at the site where the machine is. So offices move to where the people are rather than making people move to where the materials are. So you don't have to move groceries for those people as far either. Facetime, remote, telepresence will take over travel per capita as tech improves.

Re:Telepresence and remote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34731770)

I fully agree.

From a non-work perspective as well, the Internet itself may fulfill just enough of a person's needs for new experiences that they're less inclined to put their savings towards a physical trip or vacation and save it for something else.

Re:Telepresence and remote (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731948)

That was the point of view about 5 years back.

The latest managerial fad is to have everyone colocated so travel and commuting instead of telecommuting are firmly back on the menu.

Re:Telepresence and remote (2)

Roblimo (357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731958)

Here in Florida, the trend seems to be to move offices away from areas close to most office workers' modest homes, to office parks near areas with McMansions and golf courses for the richies at the top -- and no place affordable for the bulk of the workers to live. Then come demands to county officials to widen roads and put in new ones, add bus lines, etc.

With a major job shortage right now, the richies aren't worried about workers leaving them. And never forget: lots of people in Mumbai will happily commute an hour each way to earn $2/hour.

Re:Telepresence and remote (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732320)

And never forget: lots of people in Mumbai will happily commute an hour each way to earn $2/hour.

You really think you can get a tech worker for $4k/year? Hell, for that price, I could hire a staff for myself to, um do something.

Re:Telepresence and remote (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732516)

$2 in Mumbai might just go a bit further than $2 in, say, New York City.

Re:Telepresence and remote (2)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732026)

A lot of work that used to require physical presence can now be done remotely. Not necessarily from home, but from computers at an office that doesn't have to be located at the site where the machine is. So offices move to where the people are rather than making people move to where the materials are. So you don't have to move groceries for those people as far either. Facetime, remote, telepresence will take over travel per capita as tech improves.

Some of the stuff you're talking about can indeed be done remotely, but there's always a need for actual face-to-face meetings. People still go to conferences instead of just posting on a website, deals are still struck with a handshake (requiring a long flight) rather than just exchanging emails/videochat. There's certain things about doing business that are hard to turn into a stream of bits, chiefly the attainment of trust. People are reluctant to trust someone they haven't met, even if all the relevant information and legal framework are present. Perhaps it's some kind of evolutionary throwback...

Define "Industrialised" (2)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731650)

"Industrialised World" - The world is changing so quickly that the definitions of what is first world, third world, emerging markets, industrialised and so on are not clearly defined.

If that definition can be made accurately there can be concurrence as to if the peak travel levels have been reached or not.

Also, there has not in recorded history been any similar trends, except maybe for the peak and decline of rail travel - maybe a parallel can be drawn from that?

Given the above, the conclusion can only be "It looks like it, but we cannot be sure. Yet."

Travel time maxes out (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731656)

Few people spend more than 1 and 2 hours a day traveling, unless their work itself is moving themselves or stuff around. So as speeds max out, so does travel.

Both car travel and air travel have slowed down. Even subsonic jets used to fly faster, but the fuel consumption goes up as Mach 1 is approached. Airport time is much longer than it used to be. Road capacity maxes out at 35MPH; faster, and the cars are spaced out more, so vehicles per minute drops. (California uses metering lights to try to keep freeways at 35MPH under heavy load. Japan just sets low speed limits on urban expressways.)

And, of course, we have such good communications that going somewhere merely to talk to someone is rarely necessary.

Re:Travel time maxes out (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731778)

There's that, but I think the bigger issue is that the transit options really haven't grown proportionally to the growth of the population.

Here in Seattle, for example, we still don't have a real mass transit system. Metro insists on taking half of it's bus routes through the down town corridor for reasons which make sense to nobody outside of their planning committee. Meaning that if you're not going downtown you're almost certainly going to need to make a transfer. Good luck going east or west or around downtown.

We were going to get a subway system several decades ago, but antitax nutters talked us out of it. More recently we were going to get a monorail system, but after several yes votes the nutters finally managed to get a single no vote to kill the project. Over the next decade we're finally going to be getting a single light rail line which goes from the airport pretty much to Everett.

The point there is that we haven't seen any improvement in mass transit, traffic itself is at least as bad as it was when I was a kid. No wonder folks aren't wanting to spend time traveling about on a daily basis.

Re:Travel time maxes out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34731982)

Could be worse, we here in Sacramento (Shining Capital of the Copp...errr... I mean 'Golden' State) have had our EXISTING bus routes discontinued, delayed, or switched from quarter-hourly to hourly stops with rates raised from 1.25 to 2.50 for bus and Light-rail raised from like 2.50 to 6.75.

It's now actually CHEAPER for one to own a car and drive around than it is to take mass-transit. Additionally it's safer and cheaper. (A lot of the bus stops are in rough areas and with a 1 hour wait....)

Re:Travel time maxes out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34732324)

Road capacity maxes out at 35MPH; faster, and the cars are spaced out more, so vehicles per minute drops

In theory maybe, but my local observations don't bear this out. Around here spacing is consistent over 25 mph, al least until someone stops.

Re:Travel time maxes out (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732484)

"Road capacity maxes out at 35MPH" [citation needed]

"faster, and the cars are spaced out more, so vehicles per minute drops."

And the speed of each car is increased, so total number of cars passing a certain point remains the same. At least.

Actually it increases, because the car length correction works in the bad direction at lower speeds. All assuming that at all speeds car follow N sec rule, where N=const.

Sheesh, trends don't == natural law. (5, Insightful)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731672)

1. Improved communications, including the Internet has helped make some forms of travel less necessary.

2. Optimized analysis of usage patterns have allowed businesses to minimize travel costs better.

3. A general drastic shift in income towards the more wealthy at the cost of growth in other income levels has minimized the ability for most folks to have the opportunity for leisure travel (time as much as money).

Those create a trend - but there's no inherent "peak travel" there. Start electing folks who will tax wealth in order to give meaningful freedom to everyone else again (see: 1940's to 1970's US), and you will see more frequent travel again as people have resources to start businesses, engage in leisure activities, and do more than just go to WalMart every long once in a while, rather than a few rich having exponential increases.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Sheesh, trends don't == natural law. (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731884)

Disagree.

People have more leisure time then they've ever had. When they were farmers they worked 6 days a week (minus sundays) and often from sunup to sundown. Now they work just 5 days a week and 8-10 hours a day. Hence they have free time to watch TV in the evenings, or to travel to the beach on the weekend, something our pre-1930s ancestors never dreamed of.

If driving has hit a plateau since 2000, maybe it's because people simply don't want to. I know I have no desire to hop in my car and drive to the store, when I can just click netflix.com to watch a video, or shop amazon.com and have it delivered to me. I don't even visit the bank now - I just do it all on the internet from the comfort of my chair.

If I didn't have to buy food, I'd probably never leave the house.

Re:Sheesh, trends don't == natural law. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732080)

I strongly agree.

I can afford to drive my 460 c.i. Ford truck most anywhere I care to, but that's mostly fucking WORK, not fun. Modern technology allows ME to command stuff be brought to ME at MY convenience, freeing time for ME to do what _I_ wish.

Re:Sheesh, trends don't == natural law. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34732140)

tax wealth

people have resources to start businesses

I think I see a flaw in your plan.

Everyone seems to rally around the "tax the rich" propaganda, but fail to realize that many small business owners and entrepreneurs will also get caught in the net.

It's not for a lack of desire... (1)

Forgen (1061718) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731698)

But a lack of dollars to power the miles. Pocketbook saturation? Either that our we ran out of road.

income (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34731702)

The authors should have compared miles driven to median income instead of GDP per capita. While GDP per capita has risen in the US, median income has not.

Re:income (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731746)

Shh... The continuing gains of the top 1% or so of the population are magically making us all richer, the GDP proves it! Silence with your commie "median income' nonsense...

Traffic Volume Trends (5, Informative)

cliffiecee (136220) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731710)

Ever since the time that gasoline hit $4 here in the US, I've been keeping an eye on the DOT's Traffic Volume Trends [dot.gov] . It seems to me that, once Americans realized how much gas could cost (and will permanently cost, eventually), they also realized how much auto travel is superfluous. In particular This chart of the 12-month average for all roads [dot.gov] shows a clear pullback in miles driven. Perhaps some of this could be attributable to people being more efficient in their travel; taking care of multiple errands at once, using public transportation much more, etc. Certainly the downturn in the economy has an impact, too.

Re:Traffic Volume Trends (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731754)

Superfluous? Maybe in the big city, but out in the sticks, or towns, it's necessary. I used to get the train to work, but as they were either (1) late, sometimes making me stand on the windy, cold platform for upwards of 2 hours, or (2) rammed full, so I couldn't get myself and my bicycle onto them, I ended up buying a car and now drive to and from work. I didn't drive before!

Re:Traffic Volume Trends (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732114)

"how much" not "all".

Re:Traffic Volume Trends (1)

Scott Wood (1415) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732334)

You want to live in the sticks and still have an urban lifestyle (i.e. frequent access to the rest of civilization), you get to pay the costs of the dwindling resources that lifestyle consumes. As for small towns, the core of them is usually pretty walkable, but they've sprawled out with the automobile just as the larger cities have.

I'm sorry to hear about the poor train service you have -- but that's a local issue that needs to be taken up with the transit agency (and/or the politicians who are probably starving it for funding). I wish I had any transit service at all that went to the sprawly place where I work...

Re:Traffic Volume Trends (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732462)

Yea, they've been kind-of taking it up for the last 50 years here in the UK. Still no solution in sight. Prices are sky-high, carriages are cramped, trains are often late. Services are cancelled at short notice, because the company gets fined if a train is late (!).

Re:Traffic Volume Trends (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732558)

I live in a small town, and the "core" area has very little in the way of shops that you need to live; there's no grocery store in the old, walkable, part of town. Outside of about a 1-2 mile strip, there's no sidewalks. Most people never go into the old part of town except for official business; the court house, police station, tax people, etc. are all in one spot.

Re:Traffic Volume Trends (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731844)

When gas gets too expensive, people consider it when they buy their home. If they must live far away, they focus on carpooling and jobs where working from home is allowed. I was able to work from home 7 months last year one day a week and it cut my mileage by 40 miles a week (about 16% per year).

Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34731716)

"Japan is holding steady at 2,500 miles"

Actually, everyone in Japan drives zero miles. The average, however, is 4000 kilometers.

Re:Japan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34731842)

On the stupidometer, you just hit 12, and it only goes to 11.

The short answer is no. (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731726)

In the US and Canada for example, driving will peak based on how far you need to go to get things done. Two things have changed on that front, first being that things are closer. An example, 10 years ago if I wanted to go to a store like walmart I would have had to drive 30mins, it's 3minutes now. Same with a Canadian tire, but the size of my city has only grown by 5k people. The thing that really throws a wrench into this of course is if live out in the middle of nowhere Canada or US. In which case driving 2-4hrs twice a month to buy your groceries is still the norm, that's providing it's not dropped off by plane. Even having things dropped off by plane is getting scarce however, it's cheaper to do 5 months of deliveries by truck in the dead of winter for remote cities.

In most other places, notably japan unless you have the money to pay for private parking when you go to work you'll live the life of the 2hr rush, and be packed in, and leave your car at home. But everything you more than likely need is in walking or biking distance, and when it isn't you can get just about everything sent to your home. Sure that's happening in north america albeit at a slower pace. Japan can't dedicate space to roads, we can. Which leads japan to having more dedication to public transportation.

Personally to me it comes down to the whole space vs no space issue. We're not short on room in north america not even close. The only upper limit you have to that here, is the amount of space you can dedicate to roadways to ease conjestion.

"peak" implies a decline after the peak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34731740)

Growth, max out, decline.
That's why it's a peak, and it is what oil production does because oil is a finite resource.

What mechanism would there be behind the implied decline in travel?
Just saturation of the market won't cause a decline, it'll only cause a plateau - thus no peak.

Re:"peak" implies a decline after the peak (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731804)

What mechanism would there be behind the implied decline in travel?

I know that there has been a lot of re-urbanization in North America; where people are moving back into the cities from the suburbs. People are realizing that there are actually benefits to living in a city. That and people wanting to live closer to work. I'm not sure how much that figures in. I know after a while, travel gets old. Even an extra half hour a day is a half hour that is not yours.

Re:"peak" implies a decline after the peak (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732188)

People are realizing that there are actually benefits to living in a city.

Well, that, and the cities got a lot safer. Go watch some 70s movies set in New York, and the predominant theme is dirty and dangerous.

Re:"peak" implies a decline after the peak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34732132)

"What mechanism would there be behind the implied decline in travel?"

Uh, the fact that oil is a finite resource? Really? Are you so cognitively impaired that you can't see that NONE of modern travel arrangments are possible without oil?

Well, yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34731742)

I'd say yes. It seems like every person has their own vehicle, how much more could they want? If you look along the street, generally there are 2-3 cars parked for each house, many of them unused most of the time.

Apples-Oranges (4, Interesting)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731744)

They reference miles traveled by car per capita. The US population grows by 2.5M people every year, which would lead me to believe the total miles driven is still increasing.

When I've seen peak oil discussed, usually they are talking about total oil output and not per capita consumption.

Re:Apples-Oranges (1, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732232)

Their wanting to call it "peak travel" is clearly just an attempt to make it seem dramatic like peak oil. It's like calling every attempt to hide something X-gate.

Travel has purpose. (3, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731780)

We travel to see stuff. Modern media has made much of that superfluous.

We travel to get stuff. Having stuff show up is less time wasted. Instead of going to buy tools, for example, I shop online and they show up. I can mix Ebay, Craigslist, and new vendors while I fap to pr0n and surf Slashdot.

We travel to see people. It's now more convenient to chat with a world of friends without bothering to meet in person very often.

We travel to learn stuff. Now information is at our fingertips.

Travel was a hassle before the TSA fondle-fest. Fuck travel.

Re:Travel has purpose. (5, Funny)

genner (694963) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731916)

We travel to see stuff. Modern media has made much of that superfluous.

We travel to get stuff. Having stuff show up is less time wasted. Instead of going to buy tools, for example, I shop online and they show up. I can mix Ebay, Craigslist, and new vendors while I fap to pr0n and surf Slashdot.

We travel to see people. It's now more convenient to chat with a world of friends without bothering to meet in person very often.

We travel to learn stuff. Now information is at our fingertips.

Travel was a hassle before the TSA fondle-fest. Fuck travel.

You definitely need to get out of the house more often.

Re:Travel has purpose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34732218)

The basement door is behind the Star Trek display case, you insensitive clod!

Re:Travel has purpose. (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732274)

We travel to see stuff. Modern media has made much of that superfluous.

And globalisation means that even if you do travel, when you get there you find it's just like the place you left except they speak a different language in McDonald's.

Awaiting next revolution (4, Interesting)

eagl (86459) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731802)

Peak travel is an interesting concept but it applies only to a given technology level. My own situation is an example. I live in Texas and have family on both the East and West coast of the US. I would also like to vacation in Florida, Maine, and Northern California. But with 2 small children and the TSA increasingly repressive, I simply don't travel much beyond a one-day driving distance.

That would change instantly if fast, harassment-free transportation were available. That used to be the airlines, and it could be fast rail if it weren't for the fact that excessive govt regulation and problems getting right-of-way means that it will never happen. But we're one transportation revolution away from me making coast to coast travel plans fairly often, because that is where I would want to go if there were reasonable transportation options.

I can't be the only one who doesn't go anywhere beyond a 1-day drive anymore, either. If we're at a transportation peak, it is because of artificial suppression of travel due to airport harassment and because of other concerns that could be addressed by the availability of fast and easy transportation. Note that I don't mention cost - I'd be willing to pay quite a bit for quick and hassle free transportation around the country, but it simply can't be done right now.

As a nation, we're quickly heading towards loserville when we can't even manage to use available technology to let people travel freely without harassment. Car, train, and aircraft technology are all available to allow for reasonably rapid transportation, but our car speed limits are where they were 30 years ago, there is still very limited train service in most central and western states, and the govt is doing its best to harass people out of flying commercial air. We suck, and we're doing it to ourselves.

The "If current trends continue" problem (2)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731836)

A study of eight horse-using countries, including the United States, shows that seemingly inexorable trends — ever more people, more horses, and more riding — came to a halt in the early years of the 20th century, well before the recent escalation in fodder prices. It could be a sign, researchers said, that the demand for travel and the demand for horse ownership in those countries has reached a saturation point. 'With talk of "peak manure," why not the possibility of "peak travel" when a clear plateau has been reached?' asked co-author Jebediah Schipper ... Most of the eight countries in the study have experienced declines in miles traveled by horse per capita in recent years. The US appears to have peaked at an annual 1620 miles by horse per capita, and Japan is holding steady at 500 miles."

Re:The "If current trends continue" problem (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732128)

And what are you proposing replaced the car in the last few years?

Food burning (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731898)

Interesting that travel dropped right about the time we really geared up the subsidized food burning. [healthandenergy.com]
 
Funny how historically high food prices and pitiful job and income growth can really dampen a decade. That's without mentioning gas prices. "Peak Travel" you say?? Whoever came up with this Peak Travel idea must live in vacuum.

I could easily see that being the case (1)

LarrySDonald (1172757) | more than 3 years ago | (#34731926)

I travel way less then I used to. I can do a lot of what I used to have to travel for from home. "The commute" is also a mysterious phenomena that the US, who will collectively bitch at having to walk thirty seconds to a minute more because there wasn't a closer parking space, somehow put up with putting up with being in the hour range. It may be that it's starting to dawn on people that you know what, 1/8-1/16th of my waking time isn't worth a 10-20% pay raise. People may be starting to weigh their options and realizing having a 30" TV instead of a 50" one may not be such a bad deal if it comes with a side order of actually having enough time to watch it.

"Peak Oil" is a flawed concept. (2)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732164)

"Peak Oil", is a worthless flawed concept to begin with. Gauging how much oil exists based on how much we CHOOSE to pump isn't even starting to take reality into consideration. If there were no huge multinational interests trying to control gas prices, "Peak Oil" would be flawed to the point of being worthless. The fact that there ARE huge multinational interests involved in oil price manipulation means that "Peak Oil" is just a stupid idea.

"Peak travel" on the other hand could have some validity. Depending on what they are measuring for "Peak". If they are measuring it in time spent travelling. Obviously there is a hard limit on the number of hours that can be traveled. Just count the number of people on the planet, and multiply by 24 hours.

Re:"Peak Oil" is a flawed concept. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34732386)

"Gauging how much oil exists based on how much we CHOOSE to pump isn't even starting to take reality into consideration. "

What if it takes more than one barrel's worth of energy to get one barrel from the ground?

CHOICE has little to do with REALITY, you seem to conveniently ignore the fact that we've already sucked out all the EASY to get oil. OK, so what if we now CHOOSE to get harder to get at oil?

Can you tell me why it won't make sense to expend more than one barrel's worth of energy to get a barrel? I think you're smart enough to figure it out.

Re:"Peak Oil" is a flawed concept. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732536)

If it takes more than one barrel of oil to extract, one barrel of oil from the ground, you have a metric that is worth discussing. "Peak Oil" is NOT the discussion of how much oil it takes to extract a barrel of oil from the ground. Peak oil is the discussion of how much oil is in the ground, measured by how much we CHOOSE to pump in a year.

Thus "Peak Oil" is a stupid concept, and has no bearing on reality.

Re:"Peak Oil" is a flawed concept. (1)

LibRT (1966204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732422)

# of people X 24 hours isn't a hard limit unless you believe travel will never get faster, and/or discount efficiency/modes of travel differences. # of people on bus X 24 hours differs by orders of magnitude from # of people on plane X 24 hours in terms of distance traveled (which is the measurement the article speaks of).

China travel will go way up (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732190)

In China, though, travel is going way up. Their National Trunk Highway System, very similar in road design to the US Interstate system, is up to 74,000 km and adding about 10,000 km per year, all built since 1988. That may do for China what the Interstate system did for the US - pull the country much closer together. China has historically had weak inter-provincial links and restrictions on inter-provincial trade. There are still trade barriers between provinces. Most provinces have their own auto manufacturers, protected by inter-provincial import duties. That probably won't last out this decade.

Re:China travel will go way up (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732498)

An interesting contrast [theoildrum.com] between the US and China vis-a-vis automobiles.

commute max (1)

nerdonamotorcycle (710980) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732328)

I think at least in the United States, we've also hit the maximum commute times people are willing to tolerate. For a long time "drive till you qualify" (i.e. "drive outward from the city until you find a house you can afford") was the motto of the real estate industry. People found out how much the quality of life suffered when they were spending two hours in each direction behind the wheel of a car. They're now willing to make sacrifices in other areas (less living space, smaller yard, schools not as good) for more reasonable commute times.

I've been looking for a house to buy recently and there's a maximum commute time I'm willing to tolerate. Beyond that, I'll keep renting, thank you.

Many of the people who bought houses in far-flung exurbs "because it's where I can afford to buy" were also stretched pretty thin financially to afford those houses. The recent recession, with its layoffs and real estate bust, was not kind to those people. Many of them are not commuting long distances to work because they simply don't have a job anymore. Or they've lost their home and have moved back into a rental closer to the city.

Slashdot has American Bias, I use metric, etc (1)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732346)

I know one of the perhaps 20 industrialized countries in the Worl has an obsession with cars; but less cars means less travel? I say non sequitur. Ever heard of trains and planes?
Also, the 8k miles/car/capita in USA vs 2k in Japan is meaningless: in Japan you never need to travel very far because it is smaller and has a higher density.

Virtual Offices (1)

LibRT (1966204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732394)

The increasing number of people who work from home must have some bearing here (altho it could be negligible at this point). I expect in the next few decades this will have a substantial negative impact on the value of office space as well as reduce traffic. Where I work, there's actually no necessity for anyone to physically be present - it could all be done remotely, but I think the hold up is the shift in people's thinking this requires more so than any technological hurdle - there's the social aspect and the "get out of the house" aspect and the "I can't be around my spouse and kids _all_ the time!" aspect and just plain old inertia. In the meantime, our 500+ people keep congregating in large downtown buildings unnecessarily, for which we pay better than $250K/mo, and our front-line people conduct 99% of their business via email and phone.

Free PDF of original article (2)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732408)

For those who want to read the article before discussing it:

http://www.civil.ist.utl.pt/wctr12_lisboa/WCTR_General/documents/02455.pdf [ist.utl.pt]

Re:Free PDF of original article (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34732474)

Having briefly browsed through the figures, I would say that the terms "plato" and "peaking" used a little bit prematurely.

I would say slowdown is in effect.

Kudos for plotting it against GDP/capita instead of years.

PS. TIL that Japan has sucky GDP/capita compared to US.

Turn it around and you get the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34732458)

It's not that we stopped buying when the recession hit us, the recession hit us because we could not spend anymore. We're broke, people!

Cars ain't free, and no matter how much you want one, if you can't afford one you can't buy one. For the longest time we have been bleeding the middle class dry, both, tax-wise and economy-wise.

The biggest tax burden has been carried by the middle class. It's easy to see why. You can't squeeze blood from a stone and you can't squeeze tax from someone who has nothing to start with. So there's no tax to cash in from the lowest income bracket. Quite the opposite, you'll probably spend on them for social security. And with the tax breaks for the super rich getting more and more inane and them being well able to stash their money away in foundations and other tax friendly money parking places, and them not being more than a thin lining on the top of the crowd, they were not the ones to fill the state's pockets either.

Governments need money, though, and SOMEONE had to foot the bill.

Additionally, the real incomes (after inflation) are going down. Essentially, we're pushing the middle class down, opening the gap between rich and poor.

And, well, how many cars do those few that can still buy them need?

An economy is healthy if people have the money to spend it. If I have 100 bucks and you do too, we both can go and buy a DVD player. If I have 200 and you have none, I will buy a DVD player. But I won't buy two, and you can't afford it.

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