Study says Vermonters drive more, carpool less

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(Host) Vermonters are moving further away from city centers and spending more time driving to work. At the same time, they’re shunning carpools, according to data compiled by the University of Vermont Center For Rural Studies.

Researchers say the trends present major challenges for transportation planners. UVM Professor Fred Schmidt says census figures show the fastest growth is taking place not in Chittenden County, but in outlying areas.

(Schmidt) “In our last decade, 1990 to 2000, has shown dramatic growth in the northwestern part of the state: Franklin County, Grand Isle and Lamoille, all of which is part of the expansion in Chittenden County. The islands, for example – South Hero is really part of the Burlington metropolitan area now.”

(Host) Continued growth means increased traffic. The numbers show that despite sizeable investments in Park and Ride lots, more Vermonters than ever are driving to work alone. But Schmidt says increased use of carpools and the development of light rail systems are important to the state’s transportation future.

(Schmidt) “A lot of our policies have been ill timed. The Champlain Flyer was a wonderful example of using federal money to solve local problems, it just came at the wrong time. Repairs to Route 7 were delayed four or five years and the timing was off, so it wasn’t a fair test.”

(Host) Schmidt also says Vermont’s aging population will have an impact on transportation needs. The median age of the state’s population is among the five highest in the nation.

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