Based on four comprehensive transportation surveys in Shanghai, this study examines the latest trends in Shanghai’s travel demand, investigates their social, economic and spatial drivers, and compares the pace of travel demand growth in three periods: I) 1980s to early 90s; II) early 90s to mid 2000s; and III) mid 2000s to now. The demand growth is relatively slow in Period I, and then speeds up in Period II, before returning to a slower pace in Period III. As for trip purpose, Shanghai’s travel is much more diversified with increasing share of non-commuting trips (from 28% in 1995 to 46% in 2009). Spatially, travel demand is dispersed from the central district to peripheral districts because of urban expansion and decentralization, and from Puxi (west of Huangpu River) to Pudong (east of Huangpu River) as a result of the significant economic development of the Pudong New Area. Both spatial diffusion and purpose diversification favor the convenience and flexibility of private motor vehicles. Driven by rapid motorization, vehicle travel is growing at a much faster pace than person travel. Overall in terms of percentage growth travel demand in Shanghai reached its peak growth in 2004 for both person trips and vehicle trips. In terms of absolute number person trip growth has peaked but vehicle trip growth has not. In response to the growing demand, especially rapid motorization, the local government has made tremendous investments in road infrastructure and public transit, and has attempted to manage demand through vehicle ownership control.