Passenger-Miles of Travel

Passenger-Miles of Travel

Estimated U.S. passenger-miles of travel (pmt) increased 27 percent between 1992 and 2002 to total 5.0 trillion in 2002, an average of about 17,000 miles for every man, woman, and child (box 1-A) [2].

Almost 87 percent of pmt in 2002 was in personal vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickups, and minivans) (figure 1-1). Most of the balance (10 percent) occurred by air. Passenger travel in light trucks accounted for one-third of all pmt. Bus was nearly 3 percent of pmt in 2002, while transit-excluding bus-made up less than 1 percent.

The growth in pmt between 1992 and 2002 varied by mode and vehicle type. While pmt by light trucks grew 39 percent, passenger car pmt rose 19 percent (figure 1-2). Air carrier pmt grew at 36 percent despite a decline in passenger traffic between 2000 and 2002, which most likely occurred because of the economic downturn at the time and the terrorist attacks in 2001. Pmt by intercity train (Amtrak) declined, although there has been modest growth since 1996. Transit pmt has grown since the mid-1990s.

The increase in pmt between 1992 and 2002 occurred for a variety of reasons. While the U.S. resident population grew less (12 percent) than pmt over this period, the economy grew appreciably. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased 37 percent1 and GDP per capita grew 22 percent between 1992 and 2002 (figure 1-3) [1, 2].


1. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts, summary GDP table, available at http://www.bea.doc/, as of January 2005.

2. U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States, section 1, table 2, available at, as of May 2005.

1 Calculation is based on chained 2000 dollars.