Southern California has always been a key bellwether for transportation trends in the US and in the world. The region that had one of the best mass transit systems through the 1940s became the hub of auto sales and traffic congestion starting in the 1950s. Now that trend appears to be changing course.
Automotive News pointed to several key indicators showing that the love affair with the car is fading…
- Light rail has been expanded 26% in the past eight years with 18 miles more of track coming by 2015. Bike lane networks have doubled to 292 miles. Bus and train ridership is growing – up nearly 5% in May 2013 versus May 2011.
- Even more significant – the total number of passenger cars has declined in Los Angeles. The market rebounded from the recession, but the 2012 sales numbers were 28,000 less than five years earlier.
- Consumers have a lot more options that gain their interest away from traditional cars – electric cars, hybrids, bike lanes, light-rail, and car-sharing plans such as Zipcar are on the rise.
- Toyota and Honda have sold a lot of small-to-midsize cars in this market for several years and are putting a lot of emphasis now on hybrids, natural gas vehicles, and plug-in electric vehicles.
- Traffic congestion is getting worse – LA had its longest congestion-related delays in the US in April. The average driver wasted 5.2 hours, up from 4.5 hours in April 2012.
- Sharing rides is gaining in popularity especially with young people, through social circles, and there’s more interest in bus and rail rides and car sharing.