Friday, October 02, 2015

More people commuting by car in the US

Pool It

In 1960, 12.1 percent of American workers went to work by transit, which was then largely privately owned. Despite (or because of) public takeover of almost every transit system in the country, transit’s share steadily declined to 4.7 percent in 2000. Then, in 2010, it crept up to 4.9 percent. The 2014 American Community Survey found that it has increased still further to 5.2 percent.

Since 2000, the increase in transit’s share has come at the expense of carpooling, which fell from 12.6 percent to 9.2 percent in 2014. Biking and walking also fell slightly from 3.4 to 3.3 percent. Driving alone, however, grew from 73.2 to 76.5 percent. So the increase in transit’s share did not translate to a reduction in the number of cars on the road. Indeed, using census carpool data and assuming that “5- or 6-person carpools” have an average of 5.5 people and “7-or-more-person carpools” have 7 people, there were 104.2 million cars commuting to work in 2000, 110.8 million in 2010, and 117.6 million in 2014...

Rob's comment:

What about commuting in San Francisco? I posted those numbers the other day. 

Streetsblog's usual biased interpretation of those numbers: 

As San Francisco’s economy booms, a lot more people are commuting, and very few are doing it in a car...The numbers show a clear trend: Transit, walking, and bicycle commuting are each growing markedly faster than solo car commuting.

Not surprising that Streetsblog celebrates the fact that "solo car commuting" declined as a percentage of all commutes in the city. On the other hand, it increased from 159,000 in 2006 to 164,000 in 2014, which you won't learn from Streetsblog's account. As did commuting by "car, truck, or van," from 190,000 in 2006 to 198,000 in 2014. That doesn't seem like "very few" to me.

"Public transportation" commuting---the only realistic alternative to driving for most people---is way up since 2006 in SF, a welcome trend. Another welcome trend: walking to work increased dramatically, perhaps because more people are living near downtown, which makes it practical for more people.

"Bicycle commuting" did increase in the city, but not enough for Streetsblog to celebrate, since it only increased from 2% of all commutes in 2006 to 4% in 2014, a nine-year period during which city residents were subjected to intense anti-car, pro-bike propaganda from City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition.

Actually, according to the city's numbers in the last Transportation Fact Sheet (page 3), it's a lot worse than that: commuting by bike in SF was 2.1% in 2000, which means it has only increased 1.9% in 15 years.

Streetsblog caps off its account with a block quote from Tom Radulovich's anti-car front group, the SF Transit Riders Union:

“In the midst of a population boom and a changing climate, San Francisco more than ever needs to dramatically decrease the amount of single-occupant vehicles on the road,” said Ilyse Magy of the SF Transit Riders Union. “For this mode shift to happen, we need a Muni that can not only handle the extra capacity but also get people to where they are going more efficiently. Otherwise commuters will choose the faster and more convenient option, which unfortunately is often driving.”

That's the biggest problem the anti-car movement has: those wicked motor vehicles are so often "the faster and more convenient option."


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