Is Reduced Traffic Another Bad Indicator?


News, reported recently by the Providence Journal’s Patrick Anderson, that Rhode Island’s highways are getting less usage seems like it could be another bad indicator:

The total miles driven in 2016 was the second lowest in the last six years, only behind the 7.677 billion miles traveled in 2014. Rhode Island driving, which includes trips by both commercial and passenger vehicles, topped 7.9 billion miles in 2011.

Two thoughts come to mind in a negative direction.  First, movement tends to indicate productive activity, which would seem to indicate that Rhode Island is losing ground, economically, and which is certainly in keeping with the stagnation of our employment situation.  Second, to the extent that the reduction in miles driven derives from commercial trucks, that could signal problems for the RhodeWorks scheme, increasing the likelihood of tolls on cars.

One thought that could potentially be positive is that I’d be interested to see how Rhode Island has fared, compared with other states, on the number of people telecommuting.  If, more than the national average, Rhode Islanders are working from home, that could account for some of the disparity in a way that doesn’t portend gloom and doom.