July 25, 2012
Travis County registered vehicles leap by almost half
The number of vehicles registered annually in Travis County jumped by almost 50 percent between fiscal 2002 and fiscal 2012, according tax officials.
About 644,000 vehicles were registered in fiscal 2002, when the county had about 830,000 people. In fiscal 2012, about 945,000 vehicles were registered in the county, when the county had 1.06 million residents.
Vehicles must be registered once every year in Travis County, officials said.
Meanwhile, new cars are still rolling off the showroom floor in Austin, the Austin American-Statesman recently reported.
Austin is growing, so there is "more people to buy more vehicles," Alan Cirota, general manager of Jaguar Land Rover Austin, told the newspaper.
While Austin continues to be a national leader in job creation, a recent report shows most workers face long commutes via public transportation. As a result, more than 70 percent of people in Austin get to work by driving alone.
The rapid growth in both people and cars is causing mobility issues in the Austin region, suggesting that even when road capacity is added, new vehicles will fill the additional space and mobility issues will remain.
In addition, roads in the regional core are not easily expanded.
"Short of tearing up neighborhoods and threatening community icons, there is no simple solution to our congested travel system," Austin Transportation Director Robert Spillar wrote in a June newspaper op-ed.
To address this, the city is working with regional partners to invest in projects that enhance vehicle-moving capacity around the region's central core, allowing through-trips not destined for the city center to bypass the core, such as new Express Lanes in each direction that would provide free access to busses and van pools to increase transit options.
Simultaneously, planners are developing projects and policies, such as Urban Rail and the Downtown Austin Plan, that increase people-moving capacity into the central core, primarily focused on commuter trips.