Opinion: Learning from the National Household Travel Survey

I have read (and even engaged in) much speculation about travel trends over the last few years, mostly based on year-to-year Census estimates and on transit agency ridership statistics. These data sources focus on year-to-year trends. However, another data source is the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) [pdf]. The NHTS differs from the other sources primarily in that instead of being a yearly survey, it is conducted every five or ten years. The most recent NTHS surveys have been in 1990, 1995, 2001, 2009, and 2017. So the NHTS data doesn’t really tell us what happened in the last three or four years; instead, it gives us a longer-range perspective.