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Article on driving habits misleading

January 28, 2007

Re "Drivers are burning a little less gasoline," Jan. 25

It is an attractive story line -- that Americans are cutting back on their driving and increasingly traveling by public transit -- but it is misleading nonetheless. From 2004 to 2005, the latest full year for which there is data, per-capita travel by car declined 10 miles in the United States.

This infinitesimal decline was not captured by public transit, which had a per capita increase of 0.4 miles -- less than the Federal Transit Administration considers to be walking distance to a train station. In fact, the small decline in driving was concentrated in rural areas. In urban areas, where transit operates, travel by car increased at more than double the rate of transit.

WENDELL COX

Paris

The writer, a former member of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, is a visiting professor at Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in Paris.

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