Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMTs)

In a Nutshell

Reducing VMTs can be accomplished by implementing other tools in the OneSTL Toolkit. These tools include: bicycle and pedestrian programs, carpooling and rideshare programs, complete streets, great streets and transit-oriented development. Below are other methods for reducing VMTs. The US national average VMT has declined in recent years, but traffic emissions continue to affect the environment and public health. Reducing VMTs has the potential to improve regional air quality and shift travel to other transportation options that can promote physical activity and spur economic development.

Practical Solution

The “How To”The “How To”

VMTs can be reduced in several ways, and in fact some of the most successful vmt reductions use multiple methods for reduction. The EPA has an excellent article on Transportation Control Measures. These measures include well-known measures such as bicycle/pedestrian commuting, but it also includes lesser-known programs. For instance, the article advocates for cities putting intentives in place to encourage employers to have flexible work schedules (including telecommuting) for their employees, thereby reducing greenhouse emissions. Another is for cities to improve their response time to traffic accidents. Traffic accidents account for 1/4 of all traffic congestion in the United States. If the response/clean-up time were faster, traffic congestion would drop considerably.

This article from New York State's department of transportation discusses how effective land use planning can be used to help reduce vehicle miles traveled. Several studies on land use planning are cited.

The Discover More tab also has a list of other One STL tools that can help lower VMTs.

Planning & ZoningPlanning & Zoning

Local government action will be part of a broader regional St. Louis plan. At various points in time, the Greater St. Louis region has been a non-attainment area. East-West Gateway provides a thorough review of the history of air quality in St. Louis as well as current goals and programming. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources also provides information on solutions. They also produced a status report in spring 2013.

USDOT's Federal Highway Administration provides the statutory language of several federal laws related to reducing vehicle miles traveled. The laws referenced include the Clean Air Act, the President's Climate Change Action Plan -1993 and the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Improvement Program.

The Discover More tab also has a list of other One STL tools that can help lower VMTs.

Dollars & CentsDollars & Cents

The various economic benefits to reducing VMTs is available throughout more detailed information on other tools in this OneSTL toolkit.Cities and counties may need to invest in infrastructure improvements and/or public transportation improvements. Expenses on public transportation can be recouped through the increase in public transportation users. Individuals who start using different forms of transportation will see savings from not having to purchase as much gas.

Measuring SuccessMeasuring Success

Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled is a unit of measurement itself. A decrease in VMTs carries many benefits, as outlined by resources within this tool on other tabs. Typically a local government would not calculate VMTs themselves. The Federal Highway Administration offers information on the technical methodology on how VMTs are calculated. They also offer a database on their transportation models and VMT methodologies in considerable technical detail.

The EPA explains the various ways to measure greenhouse emissions. East-West Gateway has information on our region's air quality measurements. VMT per capita is a performance measure being used by OneSTL to measure success under the Efficient theme.

Discover MoreDiscover More

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offer resources on the negative health effects associated with air pollution and the case for reducing VMTs. East-West Gateway offers resources on the decline in VMTs within the St. Louis region.

Other One STL tools that can lower VMTs are: