Monday, March 03, 2008

Freeway Traffic Declines on Highway 99

I've been playing around with a traffic data system run by UC Berkeley called the "Freeway Performance Measurement System" or PeMS. Essentially, they collect traffic flow data from CalTrans and use it to try and predict freeway usage patterns and other things.

Out of curiosity, I pulled the normalized vehicle miles traveled for Highway 99 between Elk Grove and Sacramento from January 2001 through February 2008. Notice anything interesting?

(Note: Scales are not zero to illustrate changes)

That's right, Highway 99 traffic levels are at their lowest since 2001. In case you were wondering if drivers switched to alternate routes, I ran the data for I5 as well. Unfortunately, the I5 data only goes back to January 2006, but as you can see, there's little change between 2006 and 2007. If anything, there was a slight decrease as well:

Parsing further, we can see the big decline was in the afternoon:

From personal experience, the vast majority of the northbound Hwy 99 afternoon traffic from Elk Grove was construction related, so it's not surprising to see a decline for 2007. What we're seeing this year is a marked decline in morning commute traffic as well. That does not bode well for the region.


smf said...

I first noticed that traffic was getting less dense in about 2006.

Can't say I am surprised. Construction requires plenty of driving.

Josh said...

Here's another stat for you:

26' Uhaul one way:

Portland to Sac: $286
Sac to Portland: $848

Unknown said...

unemployment is up, which means less commuters, which really would probably mean a VERY small difference, even when you account for construction traffic.
Gas prices are up, so people may be driving a bit less. Wallets are tight for other reasons, which means less consumers on their way to arden mall...
Bottom line, there is quite a bit less disposable income and travel costs are up, so unnecessary travel is down.

Max said...

I guess the data isn't too surprising in hindsight, but it's interesting to see something. I suspected intuitively graphed out so cleanly.

... said...

Less disposible drug money also - fewer runs to the Elk Grove grow houses....

Wadin' In said...

I really, really like this blog.

Max, this is tremendous validation of personal observations. You always find data that matters.

I remember on the SF peninsula after the dot com bubble burst in 2000, people could not believe how empty the freeways had become. It used to be a parking lot 24/7 thru Silicon Valley and suddenly, even commuter hours were flowing smoothly.

Last Friday, I drove north up the peninsula into San Francisco at 7:30 AM. Traffic 3 years ago was a mess. Today, it was pretty smooth sailing all the way. There was even plenty of parking in the City.

Sippn, you always bring a chuckle to this blog. Thanks. When it hurts too much to cry, it is always better to laugh.

I have been making more offers on houses lately. These short sale listings are a joke. I have 3offers which have been out for over a month now and not a peep back from the lenders. I am moving on to more responsive sellers.

I made my first offer for under $50/sf this week. The bank did not reject it, but came back and asked for justification of my price. Easy stuff to do these days. There are many, many beat up houses in decent neighborhoods that sold for $300,000 in 2005 (with 100% financing). Some are worth less than $100,000 today, when priced at 10 times the rent. The asking prices are almost there.

It is a very interesting time. I remember discovering this blog in early 2006, right after a seller rejected my $840,000 offer on his $1,100,000 over priced POS house in Auburn. Today, I have a much nicer house courtesy of Deutsche Bank for under $400,000 (though no extra land the other place had). The Auburn seller still owns the house and her grandchildren rent it from her for $1500/mon! It still looks like a dump.

The $50 I send to Max every quarter seems like a pittance compared to the contribution he has made in my life.