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Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 27


Additional  Efficient Transportation and Land Use  Indicators

26 - Road & Bridge Repairs

28 - Workplace Transportation Options

29 - Traffic Fatalities

Vehicle Miles Traveled

Annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita on New Jersey's road system: Increasing

  Things to think about 

In many new communities, it is impossible to get a candy bar, gallon of milk or a newspaper, or to go to school or church, without using a car. Many new subdivisions don’t even have sidewalks.

· Most of our existing commuter rail lines are well patronized. For ridership to increase significantly, more capacity and new lines will have to be added.

 

Importance

Vehicle miles traveled and ridership on public transit are both measures of mobility – a highly prized asset at the beginning of the 21st century. Our jobs, schools, shopping, and recreation sites are frequently spread out and far from our homes. Further, much development – office, retail center, housing – is designed for optimal auto access at the expense, and often elimination, of other transportation options. Planning our "built environment" better would mean increasing our ability to take public transit, bike, or walk. We would then have less traffic congestion and pollution.

Economic

The more we drive, the more we are delayed. This irony is the essence of congestion. As our VMT rises, our transport efficiency declines in the resulting traffic jams. As our transit ridership rises, however, congestion is reduced and energy efficiency is increased. This efficiency improves the competitiveness of the economy as workers, consumers, and goods get where they need to go with minimum time and cost.

Environmental

Motor vehicles and roads are a significant source of air and water pollution in New Jersey. Roads also fragment wildlife habitat, making it unsuitable for some species. Approximately 33 percent of all energy consumed in our state is used for transportation. Without continuous improvements in efficiency and environmental technology, our pollution will increase as VMT inc

Social

Traditional, centralized towns and cities are more amenable to transit use and harbor a greater sense of community identity than sprawling townships and corporate campuses. Automobile dependence tends to isolate people in their cars, inhibiting interaction and community coherence. Transit brings people together in stations, towns, and in larger vehicles.

Knowledge Gaps

We need data about the locations of our jobs, homes, recreation, and shopping districts so that they can be analyzed for proximity to each other and to existing transportation services. Consistently collected land use data, surprisingly, remain unavailable. It is by understanding the layout of our daily activities that we can really address the issues of why and how much we have to travel. These data do not include the very important ridership of numerous privately operated mass-transit companies, especially bus lines.

Data Source: NJ Department of Transportation and NJ Transit

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 30, 2007

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