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Commuting Mode Share in the 30 Largest U.S. Cities

Everyone already knows Jacksonville can be a pretty dismal place for commuting if you're not married to asphalt, SUVs, and carbon monoxide clogged highways. However, Metro Jacksonville takes a look at how Jacksonville stacks up with the largest cities in the country, in terms of commuting mode share. While the results aren't great, they aren't as bad as expected either.

Published July 11, 2012 in Transit      9 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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The charts below illustrate commuting mode share changes that occurred between 2000 and 2009 (from the 2000 Census and 2009 ACS) in the 30 largest municipalities in the country. Note this data is limited to cities themselves and not metropolitan areas.

Only nine cities were able to reduce their share of 'Driving Alone' trips. Led by Boston, and followed by Seattle, Portland, Washington, and San Francisco. Texas cities seemed to encounter the greatest hurtles, with Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth in the top five for increases in driving alone trips. Baltimore and Las Vegas also saw significant increases.

In terms of other mode shares, Portland kills everybody in bicycling increases, while cities with very established transit networks (D.C., Boston, NYC) saw the greatest increases in transit use. Interestingly Detroit led off in terms of walking increases, with Boston and SF behind. Nashville saw the greatest drop in walking, while Baltimore recorded a significant transit drop.

Second, it's hard not to notice that Boston appears to be doing something right. Beside the largest reduction in driving alone trips, the city ranked in the top three for every other category including increases in walking, transit, and bicycle mode shares. Other cities that consistently ranked well included Seattle, Portland (except oddly in its transit share), Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.

(click on image to enlarge)





Jacksonville: Mode Share Changes 2000-2009 by Point Change

(One Point = 1% of All Commuting Trips)

Total Auto: -1.05

Total Non Auto: -0.48

Driving Alone: 0.34

Carpooling: -1.39

Transit: -0.38

Biking: -0.02

Walking: -0.08





Quote
Overall, the percentage of people commuting by automobile declined by 3.4%, and the mode share of those using non-automobile modes decreased by 2.0%. It was possible for both to decline because of an increase in people not traveling to work at all but telecommuting.

Though these numbers show little change in use for automobile and transit overall, they do provide some clue as to the effects of rail investments. When comparing cities that have no rail lines with those that have existing lines or have invested in new ones, a correlation between rail and transit use is apparent. Cities with no rail saw far smaller declines in automobile mode shares than their rail counterparts; they also saw declining non-automobile mode shares, compared to increases in the rail cities. These differences were especially considerable when considering rail cities outside of Texas; excluding them, transit saw no mode share change, whereas single-person commuting by car decreased (albeit by a minuscule amount).

This may indicate that rail lines can play an important role in encouraging the population to try modes other than the automobile. The non-automobile mode share, which includes transit, biking, and walking, is particularly interesting from this perspective because it may reflect the number of people choosing to live in areas where it is acceptable to use transportation other than the private car. Is this conclusive evidence that rail works better than bus service to encourage people out of their cars? Not necessarily, but it’s certainly a part of the overall equation.

Looking city-by-city, modal share changes reflect some overall trends. Automobile usage continues to decrease in the nation’s older, densely developed cities: The places recording the largest declines in overall car share were, in order, Washington, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Chicago. Those with the largest declines in non-automobile share were largely sprawling cities, including, in order, Columbus, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Las Vegas, and Nashville.

Source: The Transportpolitic







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9 Comments

Debbie Thompson

July 11, 2012, 12:05:39 PM
If you build it, they will come.  :-)

Jason

July 11, 2012, 12:49:24 PM
I think the most telling part of the article is that there has been very little change at all here in Jax.  Goes to show that sticking to the status quo does nothing to advance our city.  Shouldn't we be doing SOMETHING? ANYTHING!?

I'm looking forward to the benefits of the mobility plan.  That will be the "Something" we need.

fieldafm

July 11, 2012, 12:58:09 PM
I thought this was particularly interesting and goes in line with what many say around here:

Quote
This may indicate that rail lines can play an important role in encouraging the population to try modes other than the automobile. The non-automobile mode share, which includes transit, biking, and walking, is particularly interesting from this perspective because it may reflect the number of people choosing to live in areas where it is acceptable to use transportation other than the private car.

Fixed transit attracts choice riders.  Dense walkable communities command premiums.

I-10east

July 11, 2012, 09:31:27 PM
'Carbon monoxide clogged highways' is a lil' too dramatic for J-ville; It's not like were on the other side of Interstate 10 in LA somewhere.

BackinJax05

July 12, 2012, 12:19:30 AM
One reason the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority "T" works so well is most of it was built LONG before cars. In most other cities, rapid transit is an afterthought.

Actually, from what I've read, Jacksonville, Miami, & Tampa had pretty good streetcar systems before they were thoughtlessly ripped up. Oh sure, Tampa has a trolley now, but it doesnt go anywhere. Its a multimillion dollar tourist attraction no one uses, much like the fish tank by the cruise ship terminal.

thelakelander

July 12, 2012, 06:20:45 AM
'Carbon monoxide clogged highways' is a lil' too dramatic for J-ville; It's not like were on the other side of Interstate 10 in LA somewhere.
Lol, most of LA is carbon monoxide clogged.

Ocklawaha

July 12, 2012, 08:34:01 AM
One reason the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority "T" works so well is most of it was built LONG before cars. In most other cities, rapid transit is an afterthought.

Actually, from what I've read, Jacksonville, Miami, & Tampa had pretty good streetcar systems before they were thoughtlessly ripped up. Oh sure, Tampa has a trolley now, but it doesn't go anywhere. Its a multimillion dollar tourist attraction no one uses, much like the fish tank by the cruise ship terminal.

Tampa's streetcar creates all of the attraction that a Jacksonville streetcar would have running from Bay and Newnan to the to a cruise terminal at the old Ford plant. This might have been a good decision for tourist traffic but it does next to nothing for the area residents. The Jacksonville Skyway on the other hand actually covers about half of the CBD and then it simply dead ends. Tampa's streetcar suffers logistically even as a tourist attraction as traverses a section of the city among the least likely to be used as a travel corridor between point A and B. In Jacksonville we have a logistical advantage as our entire downtown core is at the center of virtually all travel corridors be it Arlington to Riverside, or New York to Miami.

Jacksonville's sole disadvantage is the disconnect between FDOT/JTA and the needs and desires of the citizens. Yes they have public meetings and the typical dog and pony shows, but for the most part these are not two-way exchanges of information venues.

BackinJax05

July 12, 2012, 11:51:49 PM
^ Well, we could always extend the Skyway from Central Station, down Bay Street, and up to the old Ford Plant in anticipation of a cruise ship terminal. ;)

Adam W

July 19, 2012, 03:26:26 AM
People will stop driving if you give them an incentive to stop driving. That incentive could be quicker commutes, not having to wait in traffic, not having to pay for parking, etc. But there has to be some incentive.

The whole issue of how incentives drive human behaviors is one of the main premises behind the Freakonomics books.

You cannot just "build it and they will come." That mentality has been shown to fail. People like driving their cars. They see it (in part) as part of who they are and link it to a sense of personal freedom, among other things.

Cities like Boston, DC, SF, NYC, etc are places where it really, really sucks to drive. And the cost of parking is prohibitive. And it really, really sucks to commute (though if I understand from the beginning of this story, this is article was not really about metro areas and commuting as such). But in places like that, riding a train is a no-brainer.

I think we all know that driving in Jacksonville during rush hour can suck pretty bad, but it's rarely as bad as it is in those other places.

You can build railways, but you need to address the issue of changing peoples' perceptions and working to change peoples' behaviors as well. And you need to offer some incentive to use the railway. And as long as Downtown Jax is basically a ghost town, you need to understand that ridership will be very low for a long time, but commit to seeing the project through to completion (and beyond). And you need to make sure that a real Downtown redevelopment project is part of the overall plan, so we actually start getting businesses back downtown. I think that last place is the place to start. But it cannot be ignored.
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