CHART OF THE DAY….This is from the Department of Transportation and shows the number of vehicle miles traveled in the United States. As you can see, travel in the past 12 months is down noticeably, the first time this has happened since 1983. Travel in April is down 1.8% compared to 2007, and cumulative travel for 2008 is down 2.1% compared to 2007.

This isn’t a huge drop, but hey — it’s a drop. One odd tidbit is that the drop is roughly the same across all regions except for one: the Northeast, where travel increased 1.4%. Not sure what’s going on there. Also from the DOT press release:

The Secretary noted that data show midsize SUV sales were down last month 38 percent over May of last year; car sales, which had accounted for less than half of the industry volume in 2007, rose to 57 percent in May. She said past trends have shown Americans will continue to drive despite high gas prices, but will drive more fuel efficient vehicles consuming less fuel. “History shows that we’re going to continue to see congested roads while gas tax revenues decline even further,” she said.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Metrolink broke its single-day ridership record Tuesday and Caltrans announced that freeway use was down 1.5%. Baby steps.

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