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U.S. Passenger-Miles

(Millions)

Dataset Excel: 
Notes: 

Air carrier passenger-miles are computed by summing the products of the aircraft-miles flown on each inter airport segment multiplied by the number of passengers carried on that segment. Highway passenger-miles from 1960 to 1994 are calculated by multiplying vehicle-miles of travel as cited by FHWA by the average number of occupants for each vehicle type. Average vehicle occupancy rates are based on various sources, such as the National Household Travel Survey, conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, and the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey, conducted by the Bureau of the Census. Transit passenger-miles are the cumulative sum of the distances ridden by each passenger. Rail passenger-miles represent the movement of 1 passenger for 1 mile. 

In July 1997, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration published revised passenger-miles data for the highway modes for a number of years. The major change reflected the reassignment of some vehicles from the Passenger car category to the Other 2-axle 4-tire vehicle category. Passenger-miles for passenger car, motorcycle, and other 2-axle 4-tire vehicles were derived by multiplying vehicle-miles for these vehicles by average vehicle occupancy rates, provided by the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (1977, 1983, and 1995) and the National Household Travel Survey (2001). 

In 2011, FHWA developed a new methodology. This methodology takes advantage of additional and improved information available beginning in 2007 when states were first required to report motorcycle data – before that time, the reporting was not mandatory and the data were missing for a few states. Also, the new methodology does not rely on data from the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey which provided critical data for the original methodology (The last VIUS was carried out in 2002).  The data are revised with the new methodology back to the year 2007, so the data from 1980-2006 are not comparable.

The FHWA estimates national trends by using State reported Highway Performance and Monitoring System (HPMS) data, fuel consumption data, vehicle registration data, other data such as the R. L. Polk vehicle data, and a host of modeling techniques.

Vehicle occupancy is estimated by the FHWA from the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) and the annual R.L. Polk Vehicle registration data. For 2017 and 2018 data estimated from 2017 NHTS, 2009-2016 from 2009 NHTS, 2001-2008 from 2001 NHTS, 1995-2000 from 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS), and before 1995 from NPTS, Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS) and Transportation Statistics Annual Report (TSAR). For single unit trucks and combination trucks, 1 motor vehicle miles traveled = 1 person-miles traveled.

2007 data for Bus, Paratransit (Demand responsive), and Other are not comparable to earlier years due to change in the method of data collection and estimation by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Transit data from 1996 and after are not comparable to the data for earlier years or to the data published in previous editions of the report due to different data sources used.

Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.

This edition of table 1-40 is not comparable to previous versions of this table.

Description: 

KEY: R = revised; U = data are not available; N=data do not exist.

a Data from 2007 were calculated using a new methodology developed by FHWA. Data for these years are based on new categories and are not comparable to previous years. The new category Light duty vehicle, short wheel base replaces the old category Passenger car and includes passenger cars, light trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles with a wheelbase (WB) equal to or less than 121 inches. The new category Light duty vehicle, long wheel base replaces Other 2-axle, 4-tire vehicle and includes large passenger cars, vans, pickup trucks, and sport/utility vehicles with wheelbases (WB) larger than 121 inches. This edition of 1-40 is not comparable to those before the 2019 edition.

b 1960-65, Motorcycle data are included in Light duty vehicle, short wheel base, and Long duty vehicle, long wheel base data are included in Truck, single-unit 2-axle 6-tire or more.

c To reduce double counting Motor bus, Trolley bus, and Demand response (commonly called "paratransit" service) counts have been subtracted from Highway, total and Bus because such miles are included under Transit.

d Prior to 1985, excludes Demand response and most rural and smaller systems funded via Sections 18 and 16(b)2, Federal Transit Act. The series is not continuous between 1980 and 1985. Transit rail modes are measured in car-miles. Car-miles measure individual vehicle-miles in a train. A 10-car train traveling 1 mile would equal 1 train-mile and 10 car-miles. 

eMotor bus category includes motor bus and bus rapid transit. Commuter bus included with Motor bus for 1980 to 2010.

fLight rail includes Light Rail, Street Car Rail, and Hybrid Rail.

gFerry boat included with Other under Transit for 1980 and 1985.

h Other includes Aerial Tramway, Alaska Railroad, Cable Car, Demand Response - Taxi, Inclined Plane, Monorail/Automated Guideway, Publico and Vanpool.

i National Passenger Railroad Corporation (Amtrak) began operations in 1971. Does not include contract commuter passengers. Data may include some Canadian Amtrak stations.

j National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) includes an inventory of all trips taken within a 24-hour period by all household members aged 5 or older. For each trip, respondents report trip purpose, mode of transportation (cycling, walking, etc.) and other trip characteristics. Reported trips that did not meet the definition of a trip were removed (e.g. a loop walk trip for exercise or for walking the dog, walk trips to access or egress from public transit). Additional information can be found at https://nhts.ornl.gov/.

Source: 

Air:

All data except General aviation:

1960: Civil Aeronautics Board, Handbook of Airline Statistics, 1969 (Washington, DC: 1970), part III, table 2.

1965-70: Ibid., Handbook of Airline Statistics, 1973 (Washington, DC: 1974), part III, table 2.

1975-85: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Office of Airline Information, Air Carrier Summary, T1: U.S. Air Carrier Traffic And Capacity Summary by Service Class, available at https://transtats.bts.gov/ as of Mar. 25, 2020.

1990-2018: Ibid., Air Carrier Statistics T-100, available at https://transtats.bts.gov/ as of Jul. 15, 2020.

General aviation:

Eno Transportation Foundation, Inc., Transportation in America, Annual Issues (Washington, DC), pp. 40 and 45, and similar tables in earlier editions.

Highway:

Bus:

1985-93: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics Summary to 1995, table VM-201A, minus transit bus categories (Motor bus, Trolley bus, and Demand response).

1994-2018: Ibid., Highway Statistics (Washington, DC: Annual Issues), table VM-1, available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics.cfm as of Mar. 25, 2020, minus transit bus categories (Motor bus, Trolley bus, and Demand response).

All other data:

1960-93: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics Summary to 1995, table VM-201A. 

1994-2018: Ibid., Highway Statistics (Washington, DC: Annual Issues), table VM-1, available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics.cfm as of Mar. 25, 2020.

Transit:

Ferryboat:

1992: American Public Transit Association, personal communication, July 19, 2000.

1993-95: American Public Transit Association, personal communication, Aug. 13, 2001.

1996-2008: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, National Transit Database, Table 19, available at http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/data.htm as of Apr. 26, 2016.

2009-18: Ibid., National Transit Database (Washington, DC: Annual Issues), Annual Database Service, available at https://www.transit.dot.gov/ntd/ntd-data as of Jul. 15, 2020.

All other data:

1960-1995: American Public Transportation Association, Public Transportation Fact Book (Washington, DC: Annual Issues), table 2 and similar tables in earlier editions.

1996-2008: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, National Transit Database, Table 19, available at http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/data.htm as of Apr. 26, 2016.

2009-18: Ibid., National Transit Database (Washington, DC: Annual Issues), Annual Database Service, available at https://www.transit.dot.gov/ntd/ntd-data as of Jul. 15, 2020.

Intercity / Amtrak:

1960-80: Association of American Railroads, Railroad Facts (Washington, DC: Annual Issues).

1985: Amtrak, Amtrak FY95 Annual Report (Washington, DC: 1996), Statistical Appendix, page 4. 

1990-2000: Ibid., Amtrak Annual Report (Washington, DC: Annual Issues), Statistical Appendix.

2001-18: National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), Energy Management Department and Government Affairs Department, personal communications, May 23, 2019.

Walking, Cycling:

U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics and Federal Highway Administration, National Household Travel Survey data, Jul. 15, 2020.

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