Motorization Trends in Minnesota


Camila Fonseca, Raihana Zeerak, Adeel Lari, Jerry Zhao

June 2023

Report no. TPEC-MTFD-R1-2023

The analysis of motorization trends in the state of Minnesota is important because it reveals changes in driving behavior that impact transportation planning and funding across the state. Changes in traveling habits have implications for transportation revenue streams in Minnesota, particularly for roadway infrastructure investment. This report presents an analysis of motorization and highway and roadway funding trends in Minnesota between 1980 and 2021. Key motorization patterns include the number of registered vehicles, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), fuel consumption, and vehicle crashes. In addition, this report analyses the evolution of roadway revenues and expenses at the federal, state, and local levels. The analysis in this report includes an overview of the general trends for the state as well as an overview of the changes by county. Data for the analysis come from the Minnesota Transportation Finance Database. The report has several interesting findings about motorization in Minnesota. For instance, the number of registered vehicles has continually increased since 1980, although it has slowed since the 2000s. However, the number of registered vehicles per capita and per county indicate significant declines in recent years. Similarly, the number of alternative fuel vehicles, particularly electric vehicles (EVs), has been increasing. Distance traveled, measured by VMT, and fuel consumption increased, although their per capita measures have also decreased, particularly since 2020. Lastly, while overall the number of vehicle crashes has declined since 2004, the number of fatal crashes rose significantly in 2021. Overall, Minnesota?s trends are consistent with the national pattern. The persistence of these trends in the future will have consequences in future roadway funding. In particular, fuel consumption and its long-term declines due to increases in fuel efficiency standards could cause continuous revenue reductions unless the state roadway funding structure is adjusted.

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