Finite Travel

One of the major impacts of peak oil will be the shrinking of personal miles traveled. The US and other industrialized countries has already achieved peak-travel, with the plateauing of air travel, vehicle miles traveled, and other forms of long distance excursions over the past 5 years. Currently, peak oil has little to do with end of growth in the travel sector, but the high oil prices of 2007/8 certainly accelerated this emergent trend.

A study [pdf] by Adam Millard-Ball and Lee Schipper of Stanford, that Miller-McCune just reported on shows that ‘The U.S. appears to have peaked at an annual 8,100 miles by car per capita, and Japan is holding steady at 2,500 miles.’

Miller-McCune article builds on the Stanford study, but does not really discuss other major factors contributing to peak travel like the overwhelming congestion of our roads and skies. Travel is no longer a pleasant experience for most in the steerage class, and the TSA’s invasion of privacy is only exacerbating the personal discomfort and deprivation suffered.

This has major infrastructure and societal implications. Even as the population grows, folks will need to get around to local destination. The question is, will there be sufficient mass transit or will peak-oil result in the return to an 18th c. pedestrian world?

the biggest impact will be felt in rural and exurban communities that will become isolated in the post-oil world. But cities will also need with logistics of providing for their populations.

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