The median age of the automobile fleet in the United States increased appreciably, by 20 percent, from 7.0 years in 1992 to 8.4 years in 2002. The median age of the truck fleet,1 by contrast, began to increase in the early 1990s but has been declining since 1997 as new purchases of light trucks have increased substantially (figure 11-10). As a result, the truck median age of 6.8 years in 2002 is less than its 7.2 years in 1992.
The age of transit vehicle fleets varies by transit and vehicle type (figure 11-11). The average age of heavy-rail passenger cars and ferryboats increased 28 percent and 26 percent, respectively, between 1991 and 2001. By contrast, the average age of full-size transit buses decreased 3 percent and light-rail vehicles decreased 1 percent over the same period .
The age of fleets as a measure of condition is not very precise. Because of the different characteristics of vehicle fleets across the modes—some serving freight and other passenger, some owned predominantly by businesses, and others by individuals—the measure varies widely.
1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, National Transportation Statistics 2002, tables 1-25 and 1-28 revised, available at http://www.bts.gov/, as of January 2004.
1 This includes all truck categories: light, heavy, and heavy-heavy.