The Real Cause of Congestion?

Jonathan Schlueter of the Westside Economic Alliance passed out some interesting information at this month’s transportation committee meeting, showing the increase in motor vehicle registration over the past 30 years.

In 1975, there were about 2.3 million people living in Oregon. They owned about 386 Thousand cars. That’s one vehicle for every 6 people.

In 2004, there were about 3.6 million people living in Oregon, owning 3.2 million vehicles. Just over 1.1 people per vehicle.

In 30 years, people population grew 56% and motor vehicle population grew 280%, more than 5 times as fast.

There are many factors that prompted this radical shift, including rising incomes, availability of easy credit, and women entering the workforce. But the greatest impact was freeway-caused suburbanization, which made driving a necessity. (I-5 plowed through Portland in the 1960’s).

(another interesting fact: each day there are 121 new motor vehicle registrations in Oregon: 14 in Clackamas County, 5 in Multnomah, and 21 in Washington County.)

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