The Census Bureau just released a report on the commuting behavior of Americans in 2009. The commuting report is part of the American Community Survey, and it details the average commute time for Americans along with their mode of transportation. Although seven-tenths of Americans living in metro areas reside within 3/4 of a mile of public transit, only 4.9 percent of workers regularly took mass transit to work in 2009. Nine of the ten cities on this list have less than 15% of the population commuting on mass transit. If those are our highest statistics, perhaps Americans need a bit of a mass transit education along with additional infrastructure support.
The New York City metro area topped the list with the most mass transit commuters – roughly 1/3 of the population uses public transportation to get to work. Coming in a very distant second was the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metro area, where 14.6% of the population hops on mass transit daily. The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area is a close third, with 14% of the population on the metro and buses daily.
The list quickly descends from 11% in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metro area (fourth place) to 8.2% in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area (tenth place). To round out the disheartening numbers, 76.1% of Americans drove alone to work in 2009 and just .6% rode their bikes. Foreign-born workers were also twice as likely to hop on the train as native workers — with a 10.8% mass transit rate for those not born in the US. Although it may not be practical to install enough infrastructure to allow everyone in the US to travel to work by public transit — think of all those wide open spaces — we can certainly do more to convince people within major metro areas that the subways, the trains, the buses, the ferries and the commuter rails are their friends.
Lead photo by Hyku