Saturday, October 15, 2011

Los Angeles uses public transit more than Portland

Photo by Ross William Hamilton, the Oregonian

Despite a big push to build bicycle lanes and light-rail lines in recent years, the Portland metro area remains nearly as car-dependent as the Puget Sound and Southern California, according to new U.S. Census data.

In fact, when it comes to workers regularly taking public transit, the Portland region's 6.1 percent trailed the Los Angeles area's 6.2 percent, the just-released results of 2009 American Community Survey on commuting show.

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At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Your Neighbor said...

And Portlandians bike more. What's your point?

Compare the 2005-2009 and 2010 ACS and Census tables B08301 ("Means of Transportation to Work") nationwide and you'll see that cycling is the only mode of transportation that increased. Here are the numbers:

2005-2009 (Mode: number)
All: 138,541,405
Car, truck or van: 119,763,043
Public transit: 6,859,705
Bicycle: 687,199
Walk: 3,964,813

2010 (Mode: number)
All: 136,941,010
Car, truck or van: 118,123,873
Public transit: 6,768,661
Bicycle: 731,286
Walk: 3,797,048

So, the total number of counted workers decreased by 1.6 million (a change of -1.16%), and the automobile and public transit figures dropped accordingly (-1.38% and
-1.34%, respectively) while bicycles increased 6% and walking decreased by a whopping 4.4%.

You'll be sad to look at the San Francisco numbers (2005-2009 and 2010) and note that, according to the Census, the total number of workers counted increased 1.35%, autos decreased 4.91%, transit increased 6%, and cycling increased 25.25%, while walking held steady losing only .44%.

I'll let you look up the Portland and LA numbers yourself so you can make a come to a more informed conclusion about whether those cities' transportation policy priorities had an effect on peoples' behavior.

At 6:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

My point is that after years of anti-car propaganda and pro-bike policies, the people of Portland, much like San Francisco, still rely on their cars to get to work. The numbers for the US are in the Census report I link (on page 3).

Note that since 1960 commuters using cars has grown steadily.

In San Francisco itself, the picture is different, since this is a relatively small city geographically. More commuters use public transit, the real alternative to driving in SF, here than elsewhere in the US: 31.9%, but 38.9% drive alone to work, and another 7.4% carpool (from the MTA's San Francisco Transportation Fact Sheet, November 2010).

As the city's bicycle count report told us, 1.9% of city commuters rode bikes to work in 2006, which increased to a not-so-impressive 3.2% in 2009.

The latest bicycle count report also told us that commuting by bike increased a mere 3% over the previous year. Allowing for the fact that the report also admits to some double-counting, that probably means there was no increase at all. The numbers from the next report should be interesting.

By the way, there are now 10,000 more motor vehicles registered in San Francisco than there were ten years ago.

At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Your Neighbor said...

Nobody—except a small minority of idealistic advocates—expects or predicts that everyone will ditch their cars en masse. So you're not proving anybody wrong by saying that "people still rely on their cars to get to work".

The "numbers" that you refer to on page 3 of that PDF, which are really just a graph, tell the predictable story of population growth in a country with little in the way of non-automotive infrastructure. It's pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain why no other modes have taken hold in the US since, well, the 20s. (And the last time I tried to tell you about how automobiles are heavily subsidized you just said "bullshit" without defending yourself and never posted my reply.)

But what's clear from the census figures I cited is that cycling is growing much faster than any of the other modes, and it's growing despite the fact that the total number of workers counted is shrinking. The census and the city's bike report tell the same story, though their methodologies are obviously much different: According to the census, the share went from 2.63% to 3.47% (a 132% increase) between the 2005-2009 and 2010 periods; while MTA's "not-so-impressive" 168% increase comes from lower figures in both 2006 and 2009.

You've implied before that MTA's numbers are inflated because the SFBC tries to drum up ridership around the bike counts, but the census figures are higher. So do you think people are lying to the census, or what? There is literally no reason to believe that "there was no increase at all". You're just completely full of hot air.

At 2:35 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Obviously you haven't read the bicycle count report I linked, which admitted to some over-counting. Cycling has increased, but the percentage of cyclists is tiny---both in SF and nationwide---compared to other "modes." People drive to work because, in this geographically large country, it's the fastest way to get to work.

"2.63% to 3.47% (a 132% increase)"

Pretty weak on the math, Anon. A hundred percent increase would double the 2.63% to 5.26%. The increase you cite is only .84%, which is only a 32% increase.

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Your Neighbor said...

Oh, please; you know what I meant. Your "math" estimates a 0% increase the year after the census registers a 25% increase. Forget weak; that's just stupid.

I have read the bike report. The numbers I'm citing are from the ACS and decennial census, which both have a much larger sample size and are much more statistically valid than a visual count at select intersections during commute hours on one day of the year. Try to stay on the topic of your own blog post.

The conclusion you've drawn is exactly the opposite of what the data suggests: Driving is down, and both public transit and cycling are increasing—the latter much more so. Your insistence of the contrary ("that probably means there was no increase at all") or your childish denigration of bicycling as a legitimate means of transportation doesn't change anything. It just makes you look like more and more of an ideologue.

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Fuck you. I'll let my readers decide who's stupid.


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