Thursday, April 30, 2009

Motor Vehicles in SF: latest numbers from the DMV

The latest from the Department of Motor Vehicles on the number of motor vehicles registered in San Francisco: 379,898 autos, 61,755 trucks, and 20,144 motorcycles/motor scooters, adding up to 461,797 motor vehicles registered in San Francisco.

The number for 2007: 465,905
The number for 2006: 460,150
The number for 2005: 452,813
The number for 2004: 464,903
The number for 2003: 446,184

The average number of motor vehicles registered in SF over the last six years: 458,625. Despite annual fluctuations, the number of motor vehicles in SF is increasing over time in spite of the city's anti-car policies, which is probably due to gentrification. The well-off not only own cars but they have a place to park them.

Some context for the numbers: Who drives on city streets?

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At 1:53 PM, Blogger DaveO said...

Meh... The data's a little too scattered for me to draw any conclusions. Other that that big jump from 2003 to 2004, it looks like noise to me, and possibly just reflects things like population fluctuations and the state of the economy..

At 2:31 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"the number of motor vehicles in SF is increasing over time"

To claim that given the numbers shown would make any statistician roll over in his grave.

1) You're transparently trying to cook the numbers. The simplest argument - in 2007 there were 465,905, in 2008 there are 461,797 - a one percent *decrease*. You try to dismiss this as an annual fluctuation, instead comparing 2008's number against a mean from 2003-2008. That's not really a defined statistical metric, but note that if you remove the outlier from 2003, the mean is 461,114, which is - statistically speaking - the same number as the 2008 number of 461,797.

2) In fact all of these numbers are statistically speaking - the exact same number. A difference of a couple of thousand vehicles in contrast to the total number of roughly 460,000 is only noise against any claims about the "number of motor vehicles in SF". There are plenty of vehicles registered in SF that are not in SF, plenty of vehicles registered elsewhere that are housed in SF, and plenty of unregistered vehicles in SF.

3)Your data does not address variations due to external factors. 2003 was the tail end of the dot com implosion. The dot commers left in 2001-2002, newcomers replaced them. There is big financial incentive for people leaving California to re-register their car immediately. There is a similar financial incentive for newcomers to delay registration as long as they can - no matter what the law says regarding how soon you are *supposed* to re-register. This causes 2003 to be a statistical outlier.

4) There is a big difference between an SUV and a Scooter. Scooters are in fact the beneficiary of anti-car policies - they are allowed to use bike lanes and they are not impacted by parking reductions. Scooters are up by 6% statewide, the car and truck categories are down.


Stick to ranting and raving, leave the math to the professionals.

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

446,184 in 2003 is not like 461,797, since it's a lot lower. The earliest number I have but didn't post is 451,879 for 2000. You can interpret these numbers anyway you want, but it's fair to say that the trend is upward for registered vehicles on the streets of SF, which means the city's attempt to make it as expensive and difficult as possible to drive in SF hasn't succeeded in getting people to give up their cars. Yes, the number of scooters and motorcycles is up, but trucks have held steady and cars are also up.

At 3:30 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"a lot lower" - is that the technical term? I can't seem to find it in any of the IEEE literature.

Rob, you've finally convinced me you have the pure anti-intellectualism that qualifies you for a job on Fox News.

Thankfully you have even less influence than Sean Hannity.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Are we supposed to know or care what "IEEE" stands for? You mean I can be certified as an intellectual if I can bring myself to believe that 446,184 isn't a significantly lower number than 461,797? If I have so little "influence," why do you bother to comment on this blog so often?

At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Anderson does argue a bit like the guys of Fox News fame. Well-observed, MR. Tahoe.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rob. I can't wait for next year's numbers!

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Could you provide some specifics for the slur?

At 4:57 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

I would have guessed you would consider it a compliment...

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Thanks, Rob. I can't wait for next year's numbers!"

Yes, very funny. Note that I provided a link at the end of the post that put these numbers in context. I track this number like I track the homeless count and the number of homeless people who die on our streets every year because it's one away of quantifying the effectiveness of the city's homeless policy. The bike zealots are convinced that they represent a significant present and future transportation "mode," but the annual DMV numbers help to give us all a reality check about what's actually happening on our streets. Add that 461,797 to the 35,400 people who drive into SF every workday to their jobs, the 1,000 Muni vehicles on our streets that have 686,000 weekday boardings, and the more than a million tourists who drive into SF every year and it all provides a factual basis for discussing traffic in the city.

As it is, the bike people who comment on this blog seem to assume that they hold the high ground morally, even though they're usually poorly grounded in the facts. Taking away traffic lanes on busy streets to make bike lanes has to be done very carefully lest we damage our economy that depends on the free flow of traffic, not to mention annoying the hundreds of thousands of people who live and drive in SF.

All this is important as we anticipate the city's release of the final EIR on the Bicycle Plan and before the city starts redesigning our streets based on some PC fantasy about the overall significance of bikes in our transportation system.

At 8:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Census Bureau has replaced the long form with the annual American Community Survey. I'd be curious to see your thoughts on the available results for the 2005-2007 averages for journey to work.

For the 2005-2007 survey:

For the 2000 Census SF (Summary File) 3 sample data:

Funny that the bicycle mode share has grown from 2.0 to 2.2 percent since 2000. That's so little that's likely just statistical noise! That's not speculation -- that's the official government-surveyed number!

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous motor-vehicles said...

The Department of Motor Vehicles in most states is the state agency responsible for licensing of registered drivers, the registration of motor vehicles, and also motor vehicle inspections prior to a sale or annual emissions inspections.Therefore, it has a pretty complex, and also important task, nowadays.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, and I find it helpful in my ongoing attempt to inject some reality into discussions of city traffic, especially with the bike people, who seem to think that cars are quickly becoming obsolete, so why not turn our streets over to cyclists? Around 460,000 motor vehicles registered in SF; 35,000 people commute into the city every weekday; and millions of tourists drive in SF every year; all our goods are delivered by trucks; there are 1,000 Muni vehicles on city streets on any given day, along with taxis and emergency vehicles.

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous marcos said...

So checking back on this a few years later, it turns out that as of Dec 2011 the number of registered vehicles has increased to 466,448.

Given the state of the streets from my bike saddle's perspective and the rampant delay that makes Muni slow and unreliable, I'd wager that the number of vehicles registered in SF has increased further over the past 18 months.

On one hand, the SFBC is participating in the neoliberal remaking of San Francisco to a bedroom community of Silicon Valley with a population eclipsing 1m. On the other hand, the SFBC pretends that these new well paid residents will not own cars and assumes that we can mitigate the impacts of these new autos--delays to transit, safety to cyclists and peds--via a few cheap street improvements.

There is no free lunch, you can pay a good price now now or you or whomever follows you, can pay much more later.

The only way out of this is to hold the construction of new housing, TOD especially, and of bicycle facilities contingent upon the provision of rapid and reliable REGIONAL transit and to mandate the complete mitigation of all impacts of housing and bike improvements on the transit system.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, indeed. Transportation and development are intimately related, which is why CEQA studies always focus on traffic as a serious impact of proposed projects. The same people who have been pushing the bike projects also support the dumb "transit oriented development" idea, as if the city can put a lot more housing units on any street in SF with a major Muni line.

But the local politicians and administrators who're responsible for these dumb policies will all be retired on their generous pensions by the time all these chickens come home to roost.


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