Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Commute Times Getting Shorter 

Journey-to-work data from the Census Bureau's 2005 American Community Survey indicates that average commute times have fallen by 48 seconds since 2000. This flies in the face of those who claim that urban sprawl makes commute times longer.

The data also reveal that the share of commuters who usually take mass transit to work has not changed and is about 4.7 percent. Carpooling and walking to work shares declined but the share of people who work at home increased from 3.3 to 3.6 percent. The share of people who drive alone to work increased from 75.7 percent in 2000 to 77.0 percent in 2005.

The Census Bureau asks people how they "usually" get to work. A Department of Transportation study (scroll down to table 1.22) found that people who say they usually take transit often drive, while people who say they usually drive almost never take transit (you can also download the full report and find table 1.22). To correct for this, transit numbers need to be reduced by about 23 percent. So on any given day, only about 3.6 percent of commuters actually take transit to work.

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