Research Reports

Motorization Trends in Minnesota

Principal Investigator:

Jerry Zhao, Adeel Lari, Camila Fonseca, Seraphin C Abou

February 2019

Report no. TPEC-MTFD-R1-2019

Projects: Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness FY19

Topics: Research implementation

The analysis of motorization trends in the state of Minnesota is important because it reveals changes in driver behavior that impact transportation planning and funding across the state. Changes in traveling habits have implications for transportation revenue streams in Minnesota, particularly for roadway infrastructure investment. This report presents an analysis of motorization and highway and roads funding trends in Minnesota between 1980 and 2016. Key motorization patterns include the number of registered vehicles, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and fuel consumption. In addition, this report analyses the evolution of roadway revenues and expenses at the federal, state, and local levels. The analysis in this report includes an overview of the general trends for the state as well as an overview of the changes by county. Data for the analysis come from the Minnesota Transportation Finance Database. The report has several interesting findings about motorization in Minnesota. For instance, the number of registered vehicles has continually increased since 1980, although it has slowed since the 2000s. Over the same period of time, distance travelled, measured by VMT, and fuel consumption increased, although their per capita measures have been decreasing. Overall, Minnesota?s trends are consistent with the national pattern. The persistence of these trends in the future will have consequences in future roadway funding. In particular, fuel consumption and its long term declines due to increases in fuel efficiency standards could cause continuous revenue reductions unless the state roadway funding structure is adjusted.

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